Professional Beauty
Professional Beauty


Better shape up

If you’re thinking of expanding your treatment menu this year, then why not opt for a low-tech, high result option like facial cupping? While in the wellness world “cupping” is nothing new per say, facial cupping is a different take on the traditional practice, growing in popularity thanks to its ability to sculpt the face and leave it glowing using a small suction cup.

Leading facialist Antonia Burrell gives us the lowdown on what facial cupping is and how to link it in with the other services you offer in salon.

How does facial cupping work?

Cupping is a non-invasive technique that uses suction cups on the skin to promote circulation, relieve muscle tension and sculpt the face, using the key principle of negative pressure. “Usually in facial massage, you’ve got positive pressure going on, which is when you use something like a rose quartz roller or your hands to put pressure on, in and down into the skin to boost circulation and aid lymphatic drainage,” explains Burrell.

“In facial cupping, you’re doing the opposite of this. You’re using the suction cups to apply negative pressure on the skin, which is gently pulling and lifting the facia, opening it up.”

Burrell says the method allows therapists to work the skin at a deeper level, delivering effective lifting to areas that get very tense, like the masseter muscle (which runs through the rear part of the cheek from the temporal bone to the lower jaw on each side), the jaw line, forehead, neck, décolletage and around the eyes.

“The masseter muscle is the biggest muscle in the face – it holds on to a lot and informs a lot,” says Burrell. “What facial cupping does is help to lift that muscle back up, using a different technique to stimulate blood flow to that area in a deeper, more effective way then if you were pushing (aka positive pressure) because everything is being lifted.”

Which client types would benefit from this treatment?

Facial cupping is an ideal non-invasive treatment for clients who don’t want to undergo more serious procedures to add definition and tone back into their face. “I use this technique on a lot of clients who have tension in their cheeks – from where they grind their teeth, or on those with lines and texture on their forehead and neck that they want addressed. Cupping will refine and redefine these parts of the face,” says Burrell.

Cupping works well as a standalone treatment and can be performed up to 30 minutes at a time, and clients can even see you as often as once a week to have it if they wanted too. However, the key with facial cupping is consistency in treatment, as Burrell explains.

“Yes, facial cupping helps to stimulate collagen, even out skin tone and smooth the texture of the skin, which is definitely great for anti-ageing effects, but it also takes away the memory from those muscles and that’s the important bit. When we express ourselves, there are lines that naturally occur around the mouth, eyes and brow area, and if you don’t do anything about them then they are going to stay and get deeper. This is why you have to regularly work on the facia underneath these areas to prevent it. Prevention is always better than a cure.”

Facial cupping can also be combined with other services you offer to deliver even better results for clients. “You can team it up with other non-invasive treatments like ultrasound, radiofrequency, mesotherapy, microcurrent and microneedling, it just depends on when you do the cupping in the appointment time,” says Burrell.

“If I was doing a microneedling treatment on a client, for example, I would want to really stimulate the skin before I do it. I would do facial cupping first to get the blood circulation and warmth going in the skin, then I would do short needle microneedling. It’s all about the power of consultation.” 

How does facial cupping differ to body cupping?

Your clients may have heard of cupping therapy on the body before – an ancient Chinese treatment that aims to improve the flow of qi (energy) by placing warm cups, usually made of glass, onto the skin. Skin tissue is drawn up into the cup, increasing blow flow and loosening the connective tissue, and thought to stimulate healing, too. However, facial cupping differs to traditional cupping in several ways, as Burrell explains.

“Facial cupping doesn’t leave the client with that deep bruising – in the circular shape of the cup – that cupping therapy on the body does because the suction on the cup isn’t as strong and they are made from a softer, more flexible material. This technique is also much gentler because you don’t leave the cup on the skin, which causes the bruising, instead you’re constantly moving the suction cup, drawing and sculpting,” she says.

"Facial cupping helps to stimulate collagen, even out tone and smooth the texture of the skin"

“However, you need to have a deep understanding of anatomy to do this treatment and your cups need to be quite firm (not too bendy) in order to deliver a better level of sculpting. If you don’t learn the technique properly then you could end up with bruising on the face.”

Burrell will be launching her own one-day Babtac-accredited facial cupping training course later this year. “To take part, you need to have insurance and be fully qualified with at least six months’ experience in a salon environment, so you feel confident handling a client’s face,” she says.

If you’re keen to learn the technique, email with the subject line, “Professional Beauty & ABHS Facial Cupping Course”. PB

Antonia Burrell is a top facialist and has her own skincare line, Antonia Burrell London.

This article appears in the February 2021 Issue of Professional Beauty

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This article appears in the February 2021 Issue of Professional Beauty