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I Tried 'Facial Cupping' to See If I'd Get Skin Like Kim Kardashian

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Michael Phelps upped the interest in cupping as a way to relieve sore muscles when people spotted him at the 2016 Summer Olympics with purple circles all over his body. But when Kim Kardashian posted a Snapchat photo of herself preparing to get a cupping facial, I was more than intrigued.

I had already fallen in love with body cupping, so when I heard that there was a cupping facial available in NYC, I couldn't make an appointment fast enough. If you're still a little confused about what cupping really is, it's an ancient practice that involves creating a vacuum seal on the skin using cups that are placed on various parts of the body. The premise is that this type of strong suction draws out toxins from your tissues, improves circulation, and relieves pain. I've done it several times on my body and have personally found all of the above to be true; nothing else provides as much relief for my chronically tight shoulders and back. So I was ALL about seeing what it could potentially do for my face. (Hm, I wonder if I would try a breast milk facial next?)

I visited Ildi Pekar Skin Care for a 75-minute treatment (which cost $330). While owner and skin therapist Ildi Pekar created the protocol for this particular treatment, she's quick to note that facial cupping goes back to ancient times. Like cupping on the body, the goal is to stimulate circulation and remove toxins for a radiant, glowing complexion. "Grayish, dull skin often comes from the lack of circulation and toxin accumulation and stagnation," says Pekar. "By using this suction technique, we can guide nutrients to the surface of the skin, reenergizing and refreshing it, while also draining toxins and improving both the health and beauty."

Back to the actual facial: It began like any other facial, with a deep cleansing and exfoliation. Pekar then utilized magnetic therapy, moving a wand with a magnetic tip across my face. The pulsing sensation was gentle, rhythmic, and relaxing, and an important prep step before cupping, she says. "The magnetic therapy opens up the lymphatic system, stimulating the drainage that's so important after cupping."

Next came the main event. While body cupping can often leave pretty significant dark marks on the skin, thankfully the same does NOT happen on your face. (Trust me, I made sure to ask about that several times.) "Because the cups are continually being moved across the skin, there's no bruising," says Pekar. She began with the right side of my face, using slightly larger cups along my jawline and cheek. The suction was incredibly gentle and the whole effect was soothing and relaxing—I almost fell asleep! She then moved on to my forehead and finished using a smaller cup under and around my eyes. Before she repeated the sequence on the left side of my face, I took a quick peek in the mirror to see if I noticed a difference. Real talk: I did. The skin that had been cupped looked plumper, firmer, smoother, and much more radiant. After cupping the left side, Pekar completed the facial with a vibrating face mask to further help flush out any remaining toxins.

I left feeling not only completely relaxed, but with skin that looked fresh, glowy, and healthy. While the instant results might make this seem like a good option before a big event or special night out, Pekar cautions that it's best to steer clear of alcohol and unhealthy food after a cupping facial, as putting toxins back into your system can undo the results of the treatment. What you do want to drink lots of, though, is water. This is super important, and if you stick with a healthy diet and lifestyle, the visible results can last up to two weeks, she says. I've been trying to follow her advice and now, six days after my facial, I can still see a difference in how my skin looks and feels. What's also nice about this treatment: With the exception of pregnant women, Pekar says anyone can safely try this facial and reap its benefits. "The anti-inflammatory effects make it a great option even for those with conditions like acne or rosacea," she says. The bottom line: It's definitely a splurge, but based on my experience, a cupping facial will have some noticeable and exciting effects on your skin. Thanks for the rec, Kim K.

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