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Even if your Instagram feed isn't populated by natural skin care brands and beauty tutorials, there's a good chance you've seen videos of women gliding palm-sized gemstones along their cheeks or rolling jade cylinders across their foreheads.
But why? Well, facial manipulation (also referred to as facial massage and myofascial release) has recently become a popular technique for creating a naturally plump, bright, and youthful complexion - without the botox.
Similar to the idea of the FaceGym, these non-invasive methods act as a tightening and toning workout for the complexion.
A little gentle movement goes a long way in increasing blood flow, which, according to NYC-based holistic aesthetician and skin care expert Britta Plug, is the "life force" that helps detoxify the lymphatic circulatory system and increase cell turnover.
Plug says that when we age, decreased circulation of nutrient-rich blood (fuelled by the lymph, which is responsible for detoxifying waste from the skin on a cellular level) can be caused by tension in the muscles and fascia.
Poor lymph flow can present as dull skin, an accumulation of blackheads and milia, and/or stubborn hyperpigmentation, among another dozen common skin concerns.
Thankfully, there's cost-effective ways to get that lymph movin.' My new favourite? Facial cupping.
In even better news, it's a technique you can perform at home for cheap. Get ready to meet your new favourite beauty hack.
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Historically, cupping therapy has been a part of numerous ancient healing systems including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Unani, traditional Korean, Tibetan and Eastern Traditional Medicine.
In other words, cupping is nothing "new" — but it's seeing a resurgence thanks to newfound interest in alternatives to cosmetic injectables.
Like any other facial cupping set that's made of high quality silicone, it gently pulls the skin away from deeper layers of fascia to smooth wrinkles, fine lines, and revitalize the look of skin.
Why should I try facial cupping?
The answer could be a simple "because it really works!" but there's more to it than that.
Think of it this way: when you use a foam roller on sore, tight muscles, they feel soft and limber afterward. Plug says that this self-administered myofascial release is exactly what cupping does for the face; it lifts and tones the supportive layer of connective tissue right under the skin.
Yong-Yow reasons that "microtraumas" caused by suction from facial cups encourage the body’s healing response, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the skin while sending platelets, white blood cells, and other healing and inflammatory responses to affected areas.
In short, you can say "goodbye" to uneven tone, discolouration, dullness, puffiness, and wrinkles and "hello" to increased elasticity, firmness, hydration, and relaxation (really, the release that comes with the jawline is like no other).
How do I do it without hurting my skin?
After cleansing, you'll want to warm your preferred facial oil in your hands and massage it into your entire face to provide a slippery surface.
TCM expert and Kungfu Apothecary founder Amanda Schuler recommends using facial cups one to two times a week (especially for more sensitive skin types). If you prefer including them in your daily skin care ritual, use them once a day, either in the morning or at night.
Using the sweeping technique, gently squeeze your cupping tools on both sides to create suction, then in an upward motion from chin to temple, glide them along in light, easy strokes.
The staccato technique can be used to provide deeper release and focus on a specific area, and it requires you to release suction from your cupping tools in short, quick bursts.
It's important to remember that you never want to leave a cup in one area for more than a second or two, since the suction is strong and the skin is delicate. This will help to prevent bruising.
And it goes without saying that small cups must be used for targeting the fragile eye area, though they can also be used to plump the lips.