We like to keep on top of all the current skincare trends and go-to treatments over here at Goodglow, and we also enjoy letting our readers know when a trend is nothing but hype – which, a lot of the time, tends to be true. Today I’m going to be discussing face cupping for acne scars – if you’ve never heard of it, cupping is an ancient therapy used in China and the Middle East. It’s a slightly quirky method that involves applying a suction device to the skin which triggers the body’s skin tissue repair process to improve the appearance of scars, wrinkles, and other skin damage.
I’ve discussed the treatment of acne scars a lot on this blog, and recommended everything from retinol to acne supplements. In this article, I’m going to go over some of the claims and benefits of this ancient alternative therapy, and give you an objective analysis of its efficacy. So – should you try face cupping for acne scars? Let’s take a look.
Table of Contents
What is Face Cupping?
Face cupping is an ancient therapy used to stimulate the skin, promote skin regeneration, and promote skin healing. It originated in ancient Egypt but is widely used throughout the world today as an alternative therapy for scarring, wrinkles, and to improve and enhance overall skin health.
How Does Face Cupping Work?
Face cupping works by applying a suction device to the skin: this increases blood flow to the skin, which encourages skin repair and skin healing. Face cupping also triggers what is known as “sterile inflammation” – a trauma response by the body which results in lots of platelets and other healing properties rushing to the face to repair the “damage”. This trauma response also inadvertently helps heal existing skin damage, such as scars, wrinkles, and fine lines.
Facial Cupping Benefits
Advocates of face cupping claim that the therapy offers a diverse range of general skincare benefits. Here are some of the most significant benefits of facial cupping:
- Promotes Skin Healing
As face cupping stimulates regenerative cells and skin healing, the therapy promotes skin renewal and cell regeneration. By triggering the body’s “trauma response,” the cupped skin is filled with healing blood platelets, and the skin begins a process of repairing the damaged tissue: this means that any visible skin damage on the treated area (acne scars, wrinkles, or fine lines) will also be subject to the same healing process, leading to the gradual improvement of their appearance.
- Relaxes Tension in the Muscles
Face cupping isn’t just a procedure that helps with the aesthetic aspect of your skin; it also promotes relaxation and decreases stress. We all know that stress can contribute to oxidative damage, so keeping it to a minimum is essential.
- Stimulates Collagen-Producing Skin Cells
Face cupping stimulates the same cells in the body that produce collagen, which leads many advocates of this alternative therapy to believe that face cupping increases collagen production. While there’s no concrete data on this, as face cupping does target the same cells responsible for collagen, we can safely believe that the therapy does at least stimulate these cells and keep them healthy and active.
- Aids In Strengthening The Skin
As face cupping floods the skin with healing properties and platelets, this procedure strengthens the skin’s barrier. Having a strong skin barrier helps to keep bacteria off your skin, (preventing acne breakouts) while also helping to protect your skin from external damage, oxidative stress, and other free radical damage.
- Controls Oil Production
While face cupping is traditionally seen as a treatment for visible skin damage, it can also help regulate oil production. Wet cupping (which I’ll explain in a moment) has proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, meaning that those of us with acne-prone skin can benefit from healthier, soothed skin that is less prone to inflammation (and therefore less prone to overproducing oil and cystic acne breakouts.)
- Helps Diminish Acne Scarring
As face cupping triggers increased blood circulation and the body’s “trauma response”, this initiates a process of self-healing in the treated area. This means that treating an area where you have visible acne scars can help improve the overall appearance of your scars, while flooding the skin with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Increased Product Absorption
As I laid out in one of my other articles about acne scars, there are certain oils and natural skin products that can help with the treatment of visible scarring. One benefit of face cupping is that it helps the skin absorb these topical products, leading to an overall increase in their efficacy and faster results for the improvement of acne scarring.
So, Does Cupping Help Acne?
Studies have shown that cupping helps acne – not just in the regulation of oil production, but in helping to improve the appearance of visible acne scars. When it comes to treating acne, some therapists find that wet cupping (which I’ll explain below) is incredibly effective at treating acne, especially if the acne is caused by inflammation (i.e. cystic acne.)
Wet Cupping vs. Dry Cupping
When it comes to choosing a cupping method for treating acne and acne scars, studies have shown that wet cupping is significantly more effective than dry cupping. This is due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that come with wet cupping: wet cupping produces higher levels of “myeloperoxidase,” a term describing the process of ridding the body of oxidants. (Oxidants damage the skin and cause the collagen to break down.) So, with its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and oil-regulating properties, it’s safe to say that facial cupping is a great alternative method for treating acne and acne scars.
Facial Cupping Side Effects
So, with all the benefits of facial cupping laid out, what are the drawbacks? Here are some of the most common – and some less common – side effects that might incur with a facial cupping treatment:
During and after your treatment, you might find that you suffer from intermittent dizziness. This is due to the increased movement of blood flow in the body, and should subside quickly.
Face cupping can also provoke sensations of nausea, especially when face cupping for the first time. This is normal, and will subside. If it persists for longer than 12 hours, contact a medical professional.
If you have a blood disorder such as anemia, or you bruise very easily, I’d advise against face cupping, and I’d recommend speaking with your doctor before proceeding with the treatment.
Does Cupping Therapy Leave Scars?
Facial cupping won’t leave scars, however you are at risk of bruising yourself if you take the DIY route. Bruising from facial cupping can last a few days and impede your results – it’s imperative to follow the given instructions and not overuse the treatment.
Facial cupping can also lead to mild, temporary marks on the face where the cupping was done; these fade quickly and are nothing to worry about.
Salon vs. DIY Facial Cupping Treatment
So – now you understand the benefits of facial cupping, and you might be interested in undergoing the treatment. There’s only one question left – do you perform a DIY facial cupping treatment yourself, or go to a salon? I’ve laid out the pros and cons:
Benefits Of Facial Cupping At A Salon
While you might find it cheaper and easier to do a DIY facial cupping treatment at home, going to a salon and having the treatment performed by a professional is often the more sensible option. Having your facial cupping done by a professional is beneficial in the following ways:
When using a salon professional, you’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy professional results. Cupping can be quite fiddly and you need to keep the cup moving constantly as to avoid scarring – a professional who carries out the treatment often is going to be much more efficient than someone carrying it out on themselves at home.
Limited Side Effects
A professional will be able to assess your personal needs and not overdo the procedure unnecessarily, leading to bruising or side effects.
Facial Cupping At Home
If going to a salon is outside your budget or simply not an option, you can do a DIY cupping treatment at home using cupping tools. This pair of cupping tools by Skin Gym is easy to use, affordable, and simple to clean with a small suction device, ideal if you’re a beginner.
How To Do a DIY Facial Cupping Massage
If you’ve bought a cupping tool (I highly recommend the one above if you’re a beginner or novice) here’s how I recommend using it for optimal results:
- Prepare your skin. Skin prep is essential to avoid bruising or damaged skin, so you’ll want to adequately prepare your skin for the treatment. Clean your face with one of oru recommended acne washes, and pat it dry.
- Apply a light oil to the skin. You’ll need something to lubricate the skin to make the cupping process easier – I’d recommend a skin oil with proven skincare benefits, such as black seed oil
- Using a light pressure, press the cupping tool to your skin, and glide it over your face for around 10 minutes, keeping the device moving constantly.
How Long Should I Cup Acne Scars?
When face cupping, it’s essential to not leave the cups on the skin for any extended period of time. You want to keep the tool moving constantly around the face, using a face oil to keep everything running smoothly. Ten minutes of face cupping is enough to see visible results, although a salon treatment might take longer.
When it comes to the frequency at which you perform the treatment, once a week is recommended to maintain results. Some users, upon seeing the instantaneous results, will want to cup every day to maintain the results – it’s vital that you don’t do this, no matter how experienced you become. Cupping once every week is enough to see great results.
Facial Cupping Cost
Facial cupping can be a relatively inexpensive DIY procedure, in which case you can expect to spend around $50 in total, with the cost split between buying the equipment and buying any accompanying skincare products to use alongside it. However, for a professional face cupping treatment, you can pay anything from $60 to $200, depending on your particular skincare concerns and the quality of the salon.
Verdict: Should You Try Face Cupping For Acne Scars?
Overall, the efficacy of facial cupping, combined with its non-invasive nature, makes it an affordable, alternative therapy for treating acne scars. I’d recommend doing a bit of research on the subject if you’re going to perform the cupping yourself, perhaps by watching some Youtube tutorials in order to master the technique. However, I’d also advise you to remember that acne scarring treatments won’t fix acne itself, and it’s essential to look at the causes of acne alongside treating any visible skin damage. You can take a look at my eBook, Unmasking Acne, for more advice on treating your acne from within with the right diet and lifestyle choices.