Hey, so ever since seeing Michael Phelps’s spottily bruised back at the 2016 Summer Olympics, cupping has always been something that piqued my interest. Since then, this trendy treatment has been everywhere—even Kim Kardashian has posted Snapchats trying the procedure out—and after realizing it can be done DIY-style at home, I’ve finally decided to give facial cupping a go.
Prior to an at-home attempt, I realized it might be helpful to get some advice from a pro. I turned to Lora Condon, a.k.a. The Beauty Buster, a NY/NJ/AZ Licensed Esthetician that’s won tons of awards for her magic and been featured in mags and sites galore. She’s also the Co-creator of the all-natural Beauty Buster Skin Care line. I knew if I trusted anyone to take my cupping virginity and not leave my face looking Phelps-bruised, it would be her.
When I arrived at my cupping facial, Lora gave me a rundown on everything I needed to know about the treatment, and answered my number one burning question: no, unlike body cupping, this wouldn’t bruise my face—that is, so long as it was done correctly.
The more serum applied, the less risk of having a face full of cupping marks.
Assuming you’re not a Lora-level expert, you’re probably wondering: what does facial cupping do? “The main purpose of cupping is to drain the lymph fluid,” Condon explains, which helps to give definition to the face, plump up the muscles, and help said muscles get their full extension and get the blood flowing through them. “We never want to have stagnant lymph in the body, and especially in the face, she explains, “We always want to be pushing it down to the lymph nodes and extracting it from the body.”
The cups might look like props for a fun Instagram story and nothing more, but in reality, getting the body’s oxygen and the lymph moving in the right direction is super important for healthy insides. Plus, there are tons of beauty benefits as well.
“For aging and lines, it’s going to help get that muscle to have a full range of motion, and plump it up so the lines are softened, as well as getting new oxygen, vitamins and minerals to that area,” says Condon. She also notes that those focused more on acne than anti-aging can find cupping useful as well: “It can definitely benefit acne clients because you’re getting that oxygen flowing to the area, which kills bacteria, and your draining the lymph nodes, which is the garbage disposal system, and you’re draining those toxins and garbage from that area back into the body. So, it can help the skin heal faster and from the inside out.”
Some bonus areas cupping can also perk up? Your brow game and your Kylie pout. “People really love that get more definition in the chin, a lifting in the brow, and de-puffing under the eyes”, says Condon. “We can also do the “Kylie Jenner,” where we get the big cups and suction the lips a little for bigger lips.” She also tells me this can help reduce the appearance of smile lines, which she insists I don’t have, but my selfies tell another story, so I keep this trick in mind.
How It’s Done
All you need to start cupping is a kit (for my at-home attempts, I picked up the Lure Essentials Glam Facial Cupping Set for only $30 on Amazon). An important note: this comes with two larger cups and two smaller, and while the kit says they’re all for the face, Lora assures me that the smaller cups are the only ones I should be using on my face, and that the larger are great for the chest—which is where the process starts. Apply a generous amount of oil all over the face; I used Condon’s Beauty Buster Secret Weapon Anti-Aging Serum, but any non-sticky oil that won’t clog pores and will allow the cups to glide will do the trick.
While you might be tempted to go straight for those fine lines in your forehead, “You always want to start with the chest and neck and drain that first, so that when you drain the face it has some place to go, and it doesn’t just get logged up as a backlog of lymph fluid.” You want to start down there to get that fluid moving, so when you drain the face down the neck, it has some place to go, and doesn’t get clogged before it reaches the armpit area, where the lymph nodes are.
Once the oil is applied and you’re ready to cup, the trick is to work your way out and down, using light pressure. “A lot of people at home aren’t going to take the time to do it correctly, and think it’s silliness, or just something fun, like ‘oh, I’m going to stick them on my face and take pictures!’,” says Condon. “You really have to loosen up the muscles first, you really have to do three passes, and you really want to push the lymph fluid towards the lymph nodes.” To loosen things up, she recommends first suctioning the areas without gliding, to get that oxygen flowing. When suctioning and gliding, always pinch the cups and move quickly, making sure enough serum has been applied so the cups don’t stick in one spot too long and leave marks. Glide over each area just three times, and then work your way up and out with light pressure.
When to Do It
The aesthetic benefits of facial cupping aren’t permanent, but they do make a difference if you’re someone really focusing on the appearance of their skin. “Nothing’s going to disappear, but people can do this the night they go out somewhere—and then give yourself like, two hours because you’re going to be pink because you flushed it,” she says.
Condon recommends at least 72 hours between cupping sessions, noting that too much could be unnecessary, and end up being more hurtful than helpful. As far as where in your routine to fit it in, the order should go as follows: cleanse, exfoliate, cup, and follow with a mask. After my cupping facial, she treated me to the Xo8 Cosmeceuticals Placenta Stem Cell Mask, which left me super glowy.
After the facial, my skin felt glowy and fresh, and I admired my slightly more supple lips and less noticeable smile lines. It wasn’t as extreme as a laser or extraction treatment, but my skin itself looked and felt healthier—sometimes, the best part of a treatment is the knowledge that you’re doing something good for your skin. Condon refers to this as “the ritual of taking care of yourself,” and I totally see what she’s saying. Cupping was great for my complexion, and while I was worried my at-home attempts would be stressful, they were surprisingly therapeutic. I look forward to cupping every few days now, not just for my skin, but my sanity. It’s a little extra “me time,” with built-in aesthetic and bodily benefits.
Thanks to Lora Condon and her team, and I hope you guys enjoyed taking more of an in-depth look into this treatment! Let me know if there are any other beauty procedures you'd want me to cover here on the blog.