Most of us are familiar with the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice of cupping, which attaches inverted cups onto the body’s acupuncture points to clear blockages of qi.
The reddish or purplish rings that appear are the proud battle scars of cupping well done; the colours indicate the degree of blood or qi stagnation in that area of the body. Little redness shows healthy circulation, whereas a deep purple bruise would mean an unhealthy level of stagnation.
But when it comes to cupping for the face, let’s just say: we’re thankful that it gives similar benefits including better blood circulation and the flow of qi – sans the bruising.
What is facial cupping?
Picked up by glow-getting celebrities like Kim Kardashian in more recent years, facial cupping has its roots in TCM (some say, it originated from ancient Egyptian practices).
That’s right, facial cupping is an alternative therapy that gives the skin a glow-from-within by boosting circulation, stimulating the lymphatic system, reducing inflammation, and relaxing the facial muscles – these are benefits that are similar to regular cupping on other parts of the body.
Facial cupping is hailed to give plumper, fuller, and healthier skin. Plus, since it encourages detoxification and reduces swelling, your face should also appear more chiselled than before, which is not unlike with gua sha or bojin therapies.
What’s the difference between facial cupping and cupping?
The big difference between facial cupping and cupping on other parts of the body is that you won’t see any bruises show up on the face.
After all, although there’s not much that people won’t try for a rosy radiance, having to stroll through the streets with painful-looking purplish marks on our faces later isn’t really what most would deem worth the glow.
Carried out using a small flexible suction cup instead of a large, sturdy glass cup, facial cupping is easier on the skin.
Additionally, instead of leaving the cups in place for some time, the cup should glide continuously over the skin to prevent bruising. You might be surprised to find out that leaving the cup on the skin for as little as five seconds can already cause discolouration.
Both types of cupping (for the body and the face) work in similar ways, but facial cupping leads to plumper skin, reduced fine lines, and a toned face. Cupping, on the other hand, typically aims to reduce aches and pains in the body.
How to do facial cupping?
Facial cupping can be done at a salon or on your own at home with a kit. It’s easy: a facial cupping kit comes with a larger flexible suction cup and a smaller one.
The tinier cups let you grab (gently) at the skin around your eyes, above your eyebrows, and target the fine lines and wrinkles on your forehead; the bigger cups let you massage and tone your face more easily. Here’s how:
Step 1: Apply oil to your face. Greasing your skin is an important first step because it helps the cups to glide effortlessly over the skin without being rough or damaging to it.
Antioxidant-rich facial oils like argan oil, which is high in vitamin E, are good for fighting free radical damage for more youthful-looking skin; aloe vera oil is a packed-with-antioxidants option that’s also antibacterial and astringent, making it great for sensitive skin types too.
Step 2: Use the large facial cups to glide from the inner to outer sections of the face, along the sides of your face, and down to your neck. For example, you can start on the sides of your nose, sweeping it up along your cheekbones to just before your ears, and then downwards along the sides of your face, to the jawline.
Think: upward and outward, then down to “flush” the toxins from the face out along the neck.
Step 3: Switch to the smaller cups for the eye area. Using the smaller cups, grab under the brows and slide outwards, as well as at the sides of the eyes and moving outwards.
For the areas under the eye, you can just press and let the cup go in quick motions, like little dots, from the inner corner to the outer corner of the eye. This helps to stimulate blood flow and collagen production, thus, plumping the skin under your eyes.
Watch a video tutorial here:
Best facial cupping sets to get
Grace & Stella Facial Cupping Massage Set
Besides facial cups in three different sizes, the Grace & Stella Facial Cupping Massage Set also comes complete with a bottle of jojoba oil and a silicone pad.
The silicone pad can be used to sweep the anti-inflammatory jojoba oil all over your skin, as a comfy start to your facial cupping regimen.
The Grace & Stella Facial Cupping Massage Set retails for RM61.15 on iHerb.
Skin Gym Facial Cupping Set
For those who’ve never done facial cupping before, Skin Gym’s Facial Cupping Set makes a good starter kit. The set comes with a pair of smaller cups and a second pair of larger cups, as well as clear instructions on how to use them.
Skin Gym Facial Cupping Set retails for RM150 on Sephora.
Vivibuy Cupping Face and Neck Set
This facial cupping set features two micro-cups for your eye area, as well as two bigger cups for your face and neck.
Deep cleanse your skin with the help of the set’s easy-grip silicone exfoliating brush before you start your facial cupping routine, for skin that’s truly aglow from the inside out after.
5 Stars United Silicone Cupping Face and Neck Set retails for RM8-10.20 on Shopee.
Oudi Line 2-piece Glass Facial Cupping Set
For those who enjoy the smooth, cool sensation of gua sha against the skin, you might prefer this style of facial cupping tool, which features a silicone “balloon” and a glass opening.
Just the same, you should press down on the silicone walls, and then release as you slide the “cup” against your skin.
Since Oudi Line’s larger facial cup has a 2.2-inch diameter, it’s large enough to easily massage your neck and decolletage too.
Oudi Line 2-piece Glass Facial Cupping Set retails for RM90.79 on Amazon.
WTHN Face Cupping Kit
These minimalistic, elegant facial cups will add to an at-home spa experience, as you wind down with fragrant facial oils, plumping facial massages, and cool jade rollers just before bed.
The larger cup can be used on the cheeks and jawline, and the smaller cup on the forehead and around the eyes.
The set also includes an instruction manual and a cute lil’ canvas bag, so you can store your facial cupping tools in sophisticated style.
WTHN Face Cupping Kit retails for RM182.32 on Revolve.
500-miles Cupping Therapy 7-Piece Set
With this seven-piece cupping set, you won’t run out of cups to use to relax and tone your face and body!
The large cups can be used to boost blood circulation in your neck and chest area, whereas the medium and small ones will help plump the skin on your face and delicate eye areas.
Since the set is available in light pink and light blue, why not choose a colour that makes your wind-down routine something all the more to look forward to?
500-miles Cupping Therapy 7-Piece Set retails for RM74.97 on Amazon.
DelicateShy Black Silicone Facial Cups
Get your facial cupping essentials – the largest cup for toning the body, the large cup for the neck and décolletage, and the two smallest cups for the face – in this one set, so you can give yourself a perk-me-up from head to toe.
DelicateShy Black Silicone Facial Cups retails for RM1.36 – RM7.36 (per cup) on Shopee.
FeelFree Sport 4-Piece Glass Facial Cupping Set
These facial cups’ purple balloons provide you with ample room to grip and squeeze down on as you perform your nighttime ritual, so you don’t have to fumble about with micro-cups that are way too difficult to hold with your “fat” fingers.
By cupping the skin, you increase circulation and boost oxygen levels at your skin cells – you’ll flaunt a “lit from within” glow soon enough.
FeelFree Sport 4-Piece Glass Facial Cupping Set retails for RM112.58 on Amazon.
DoSense Pro Facial Cupping Set
Before you begin applying facial oil to your skin in preparation for cupping, make sure you do this key pre-first step: cleansing. As with any other skincare ritual, starting with clean skin is a must to ensure that your pores don’t get clogged with dirt and grime.
It’s a bonus, then, that DoSense Pro’s Facial Cupping Set comes with a konjac sponge to help you up the ante on a soothing pre-cupping cleanse. Make sure that you wet the sponge enough so that it becomes soft before you sweep it over your skin.
DoSense Pro Facial Cupping Set retails for RM133.12 on Amazon.
Featured image credit: WTHN, @skinbyhelen/TikTok