Does Facial Cupping Really Work?

facial cupping

Does cupping your face really bring out that inner glow? 

If you’ve been wondering what the buzz around facial cupping is all about — and whether it’s something you should really consider — you’ve landed the right spot! 

Facial cupping is a holistic service that has been gaining popularity. Many people who try it notice improvements in their skin, especially in terms of texture and elasticity. Plus, it makes for a great way to relax and destress.

If you’ve been looking to reward your skin, that has been enduring weather conditions as well as succumbing to wrinkles, this is your cue to try facial cupping. Read right through this facial cupping guide to learn about this ancient technique — and why it’s worth a try.

What is Facial Cupping?

Cupping (of all forms, including facial cupping) is an ancient Chinese practice in which a practitioner places heated, dome-like suction cups on different areas of your skin. This is usually the face, but can also be the body. Mostly, the suction cups are made from glass, and can sometimes be ceramic, bamboo, or plastic.

This practice aims to increase blood flow under the skin — and relieve all your muscle tension. Because it has Chinese roots, its aims are also traditional; suctioning is done to stimulate the flow of “Qi” (pronounced as “chee”), which is a Chinese word translating to life force.

You can think of facial cupping as a deep-tissue massage. You begin by first applying a serum to cleansed skin (this helps reduce friction and prevent any marks/bruises). Next, facial cups are moved across the face in different motions, specifically upward and outward. Gentle suction is created in the cup by squeezing it onto an area of the face. This draws blood to the area — thus increasing blood flow. This is repeated onto different areas of the face, working from the base of the neck, and along the jawline, cheeks, and forehead.

Generally, there are two types of cupping. In “wet” cupping, the skin is pierced, so blood flows into the cup. In contrast, “dry” cupping doesn’t require any piercing. Facial cupping practices stick to dry cupping — your therapist will gently move the cup around your skin. Doing so creates stimulation and draws blood around the face.

Benefits of Facial Cupping

The natural — and non-invasive — treatment of facial cupping is great for the skin in more ways than one. As such, it has many benefits (though these are reported anecdotally, as scientific research is limited).

facial cupping benefits
  • Improves blood circulation. Cupping stimulates blood flow to your facial tissues. This increases the circulation of blood, which, in turn, delivers more oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells.
  • Helps with lymphatic drainage. Facial cupping may help drain lymph nodes in the face (by moving excess fluids/toxins from the tissues). This can reduce fluid buildup — and decrease puffiness. As such, you can expect the process to enhance your body’s natural detoxification processes.
  • Stimulates collagen/elastin production. By increasing blood circulation, cupping stimulates the facial cells responsible for producing collagen and elastin. Both of these are proteins that help maintain skin elasticity (and firmness) — giving you a radiant and youthful complexion.
  • Reduces facial tension. While your therapist performs cupping, the suction produced helps release tension in your facial muscles. This lends to a relaxed appearance, and potentially reduces the chance of fine lines/wrinkles.
  • Promotes a natural facelift. Because facial cupping improves muscle tone and reduces sagging, some people claim that it can provide a natural facelift.
  • Enhances the absorption of products. Increased blood circulation means your skincare products will be better absorbed into your skin — so you can expect more effective results.

At the end of a successful procedure, you will be rewarded with a radiant glow and brightened skin as well as feelings of relaxation in your facial muscles. You will also notice how the imperfections on your skin (especially scars and fine lines) are minimized. If you experience puffiness, this will be reduced — and healthy oil production will be encouraged. Plus, any skincare products you use later on will be more effective.

Facial Cupping Risks

Facial cupping is generally a safe practice, especially when done by professionals. However, there’s one main risk that comes with it: bruising. If you leave the suction cup in one place for too long, you may develop marks on the affected area. In extreme cases, one can end up with broken capillaries.

facial cupping for acne

To prevent this from occurring, the trick is to be gentle. Continuously glide the cups over your skin, not stopping for too long at one spot. As you do so, apply a controlled amount of pressure (the suction should only result in a moderate pulling that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable). Also, using a cleansing oil beforehand helps reduce friction and easily move the cups around. Tip: Be sure to use soft techniques for the process. And if you’re not familiar with these — or the process in general — allow a certified therapist to do it for you.

Professional vs. At-Home Facial Cupping

Getting facial cupping done by a professional is the best way to go. This is because practitioners have experience with different skin types and facial structures — and understand the nuances of the procedure. So, if you’re looking for a targeted and incredibly beneficial cupping process, consult a professional near you.

In contrast, there are plenty of kits available to try facial cupping at home, too (you can think of this as a DIY process). If you’re just beginning your journey, consider purchasing a kit that has cups of different sizes. This allows you to try the various sizes and choose the one that suits you — and the targeted area — best. Also, be sure to thoroughly read all the instructions given on the kit and exercise caution. This helps avoid over-suctioning (and its resultant bruising). In a few attempts, you will find what works best for your facial structure and skin.

How to Do Facial Cupping 

Because this facial cupping guide aims to be your one-stop shop, let’s have a quick look at the various techniques of facial cupping.

Facial Cupping for Wrinkles

  1. Cleanse your face and apply a facial oil (or serum).
  2. Select a small-sized cup from your kit. This can also be medium-sized, depending on the surface area of your wrinkle-prone skin.
  3. Squeeze the cup and place it on the targeted area. Once placed, release it to create a ‘suction’.
  4. Glide the cup — and allow your wrinkle lines to guide its movement. (Preferably, this should be in an upward or circular motion.)
  5. Repeat the process for 5 to 10 minutes. If you have multiple areas on your skin with wrinkles, you’d want to do the same process on each.
  6. Finally, apply a hydrating moisturizer (or an anti-aging serum) to nourish your freshly cupped skin.

Facial Cupping to Plump Lips

  1. Apply a generous amount of lip balm (or oil) to your lips; make sure they’re nice and smooth once done.
  2. Place a small cup on your lips, squeezing and releasing it to create a gentle suction.
  3. Move the cup in a circular motion around your lips. Don’t forget the lipline!
  4. Continue doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. For a plumping effect, you can try puckering your lips while suctioning.
  6. Finally, apply a moisturizing lip balm.

Facial Cupping for Nasolabial Folds

  1. Cleanse your face, followed by applying a serum/oil (especially to the nasolabial fold area).
  2. Place a small cup on the side of the nasolabial fold next to your lip area.
  3. Create a gentle suction — and move the cup along towards the ear. As a rough measurement, this will form a circular arc.
  4. Repeat on the other side; if you have two cups, you can do it simultaneously on both sides.
  5. Keep doing this for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Finish up with a hydrating moisturizer.


What does cupping do for your face?

In one word: wonders! Facial cupping boosts your blood circulation and stimulates the production of proteins essential for skin health. At the end, you will experience an improved (and radiant) skin tone and less puffiness. If you’re after a bright, youthful appearance, facial cupping is worth a try.

How often should you cup your face?

The answer really depends on your personal preference. Generally, cupping your face once a week should be enough. However, some people do it as often as three times a week, or as little as once a month.

Does face cupping leave marks?

Face cupping shouldn’t leave bruises, but there may be slight redness within the first few minutes of the process. (In fact, having slight redness means there was enough pressure for the process to promote blood flow and bring blood up to the skin surface — one of the main purposes of cupping.)

Is facial cupping good for acne?

Because facial cupping helps with lymphatic drainage (and has antioxidant effects), some people claim it is effective for acne. But scientific research is limited. We recommend trying it for yourself to see if it works for your acne.

How Long Does it Take for Facial Cupping to Work?

facial cupping at home

How long it takes for you to see results really depends on your skin, and whether you do it yourself or get it done professionally. Some people see results within the first few days/sessions, while others may need a few weeks. Generally, you should be able to notice pleasant differences in your skin after 3 weeks of a consistent facial cupping routine.

Facial Cupping vs Gua Sha

Both facial cupping and gua sha have their roots in East Asian medicine and aim to promote blood flow (by applying targeted pressure) — but their techniques vary. The former uses cups to create a suction on your skin, while the latter uses a flat tool to scrape the skin. (Learn all about body gua sha here.)

Facial Cupping vs. Jade Roller

Another popular skincare technique is jade rolling; this involves massaging your face with a smooth (and cool) jade roller. Again, both jade rolling and facial cupping aim to improve your skin health (by improving circulation and reducing puffiness), but with their own unique mechanisms. Cupping relies on creating a suction, while jade rolling involves massaging your skin.


Wasn’t this facial cupping guide a cup-full of holistic fun? If your answer is in the affirmative, wait till you try it! With the right (read: gentle) techniques and consistent routine, facial cupping will bring the skin appearance you’ve been longing for. The best part? It’s a completely natural process, and, when done right, can yield results similar to expensive treatments.


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