What is TikTok’s facial cupping trend and how does it work?

It’s latest beauty trend to take over TikTok, and it’s even been compared to Botox but is facial cupping really all it’s cracked up to be?

Facial cupping is having a moment – on TikTok at least, with 6 million views and counting. But like many of the tricks, trends and techniques on the social media platform, it’s not new. The ancient technique has long been used in Middle Eastern and Chinese medicine and has been popular in the western world for body aches and pains for years.

On this week’s Healthy-ish beauty-themed podcast our host Felicity Harley quizzes Beauty Editor Kelsey Ferencak on how it works and what the benefits are.

Q: Why is facial cupping so hyped right now?

A: We all know about the ancient technique often used on parts of our body, especially on the shoulders and back, but the popular practice has now moved to our faces and is going viral on TikTok – hence it’s resurgence. Gwyneth Paltrow has long been sprucing facial cupping for its youth-boosting and detoxifying abilities.

Q: People say it’s similar to Botox – is that true? What are the benefits?

A: Unfortunately not. Botox relaxes and inhibits muscle movement. Facial cupping is said to help increase blood circulation to stimulate collagen production – which could help to smooth the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but I wouldn’t compare it to Botox.

Other benefits are said to include brightening the skin, sculpting facial contours and decreasing puffiness – as well as releasing muscle tension and tightness, which is why it’s also said to be good for TMJ and teeth grinding.

Q: How does it actually work?

A: It depends if you’re doing it yourself or if you’re getting it done professionally. But essentially instead of leaving the cups static like you would in a body treatment, they’re moved around in different directions to stimulate different skin layers, blood flow and lymphatic drainage.

During a body-cupping treatment glass cups are placed on to either wet or dry skin, which creates a suction effect and often uses heat from a flame. But nowadays the technique is a lot more modern using plastic and silicone cups which have a self-suction mechanism through a pump. It works to bring blood to the surface of the skin and is said to relax muscles, reduce pain and help flush toxins.

Facial cupping is a little gentler and involves much smaller cups (usually silicone) which create a pull on the skin through suction – and don’t require a pump or flame, they’re used in tandem with skincare like oils and serums to provide slip. You may have seen them being used for at-home cellulite treatments and lymphatic drainage.

Q: Are there any side effects or risks, like bruising?

A: There can be if you’re doing it yourself, which is the case for many things like this. If you don’t get the pressure right, or you pull too hard you may cause bruising, redness, and in worse cases broken capillaries.

Q: What’s your expert opinion: worth it or not?

A: I’m going to say not worth it. It depends on what you’re using it for – if it’s for depuffing, sculpting and lymphatic drainage it may help, but I recommend seeing a professional first and asking them for the full rundown, and even seeing what your results are like following treatment. I find a lot of these tools are often used incorrectly so leave it to the pros until you know what you’re doing, or think about what you’re actually trying to achieve and if there is a better solution-focused treatment/ product.