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Facial Cupping 101

Looking for an all-natural, inexpensive, easy way to perk up your skin? Read on to learn about the possible benefits, how-tos and tips to safe and effective facial cupping.

Facial cupping has been shown to improve circulation, oxygenation to the skin [1][2][3] which can provide anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and positive immune and neuromodulatory (nerve balancing) effects [3][4]. Another way cupping may benefit our skin is by increasing nitric oxide (NO) levels which has been shown to improve collagen synthesis[5], wound healing and skin repair [6][7].

Cupping has been used throughout history in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of health conditions, but has been shown in studies to benefit chronic pain [8], blood pressure, diabetes, herpes zoster, acne, facial paralysis, asthma and arthritis [10].

Cupping How-tos

  1. Wash and clean your face. Remove all makeup.

  2. Lightly massage or tap your face in an up and outward direction to release tension.

  3. Apply a light layer of oil (ex. Jojoba, rosehip or marula oil) to your face.

  4. Squeeze the cup to create suction, place the cup down on your skin then release. Note: the closer to the opening of the cup you squeeze the more suction you create.

  5. Following the arrows in the diagram:

  • Start by placing a cup in the middle of your chin and gently guide the cup along your jaw bone in an upward and outward direction.

  • Using the cups, gradually work your way up the cheeks to the top of your cheekbones, always working in an “up and out” direction. Avoid cupping around the upper and lower eyelids. You can cup along the orbital bone (top of your cheek bone) and the brow bone.

  • Along the forehead, cup in an upward direction, from your eyebrows up to the hairline.


  • Cupping may enhance skin absorption of nutrients. Following cupping use tissue to pat and absorb any excess oil from your face and apply vitamin C or vitamin E serums or oils.

  • For ideal results, cup until your skin develops a light pink flush indicating increased blood flow.

  • DO NOT:

    • leave a cup with suction to sit on the skin. This will cause blood vessel breakage and bruising, KEEP THE CUPS MOVING.

    • Cup over broken skin or infected skin. If you see bleeding or pus, don’t cup.

Cup care

  • Cups can be washed with a mixture of liquid dish soap and warm water, allow to air dry.

Looking for some additional ways to improve your skin health? Read my previous blog "Defending Your Skin Against Time" or feel free to reach out if you have more questions about facial cupping or staying well. It's also "Naturopathic Medicine Week" and I'd like to invite you to join me on Instagram to celebrate!

In health & wellness,

  1. Zhou Y, Cao F, Li H, Huang X, Wei D, Wang L, Lai P. Photoacoustic imaging of microenvironmental changes in facial cupping therapy. Biomed Opt Express. 2020 Apr 6;11(5):2394-2401. doi: 10.1364/BOE.387985. PMID: 32499932; PMCID: PMC7249831.

  2. Li T, Li Y, Lin Y, Li K. Significant and sustaining elevation of blood oxygen induced by Chinese cupping therapy as assessed by near-infrared spectroscopy. Biomed Opt Express. 2016 Dec 12;8(1):223-229. doi: 10.1364/BOE.8.000223. PMID: 28101413; PMCID: PMC5231294.

  3. Cui S, Cui J. [Progress of researches on the mechanism of cupping therapy]. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2012 Dec;37(6):506-10. Chinese. PMID: 23383463.

  4. Lowe DT. Cupping therapy: An analysis of the effects of suction on skin and the possible influence on human health. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017 Nov;29:162-168. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.09.008. Epub 2017 Sep 14. PMID: 29122256.

  5. Aboushanab TS, AlSanad S. Cupping Therapy: An Overview from a Modern Medicine Perspective. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2018 Jun;11(3):83-87. doi: 10.1016/j.jams.2018.02.001. Epub 2018 Feb 7. PMID: 29436369.

  6. Frank S, Kämpfer H, Wetzler C, Pfeilschifter J. Nitric oxide drives skin repair: novel functions of an established mediator. Kidney Int. 2002 Mar;61(3):882-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1755.2002.00237.x. PMID: 11849442.

  7. Han G, Nguyen LN, Macherla C, Chi Y, Friedman JM, Nosanchuk JD, Martinez LR. Nitric oxide-releasing nanoparticles accelerate wound healing by promoting fibroblast migration and collagen deposition. Am J Pathol. 2012 Apr;180(4):1465-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.12.013. Epub 2012 Feb 3. PMID: 22306734.

  8. Lauche R, Cramer H, Hohmann C, et al. The effect of traditional cupping on pain and mechanical thresholds in patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain: a randomised controlled pilot study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:429718. doi:10.1155/2012/429718

  9. Al-Bedah, Abdullah M N et al. “The medical perspective of cupping therapy: Effects and mechanisms of action.” Journal of traditional and complementary medicine vol. 9,2 90-97. 30 Apr. 2018, doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2018.03.003


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