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Curious about cupping? So was I. As a copywriter who makes a career out of sitting at a desk all day long, my posture is pretty pissed at me most days—leading to chronic back, shoulder, and neck pain. When I started up weekly deep tissue massages, my masseuse asked me at the end of our session if I had ever tried cupping. That’s where my exploration into the world of this traditional medicine began.
If you’re a novice to this healing practice like I was, here are a few things to know before you book your first appointment!
While I’m well versed in the art of deep tissue massages, I knew essentially nothing walking into my first cupping session. What exactly *is* cupping, anyway?
Think of it as the opposite of a massage. Stay with me. Instead of applying pressure to the muscles, cupping uses suction to lift your fascia—if you didn’t know this word don’t worry, neither did I—which are the connective tissues in your body and your muscles. This suction creates healthier fascia, which equals more flexibility and improved muscle recovery.
Don’t let the red marks fool you; cupping isn’t painful. I’ll be honest, going into my first session I was pretty nervous about how my sensitive skin would react. I can honestly tell you that while the sensation was odd, it didn’t hurt at all.
You’ll feel a tightness in the area of the cup, and usually, the sensation is really relaxing. For my first experience, my practitioner used glass cups—instead of silicone—and a (completely safe) fire cupping technique. In total, the whole thing took about 10 minutes. Think friendly octopus.
Starting my research into cupping was overwhelming. There are several different methods, but the ones most practiced are:
- Moving Cupping: This form of cupping involves the practitioner applying oil to your skin before putting on the cups and then sliding them up and down your back. This is usually the type of cupping I do because it has a larger focus on the back.
- Fixed Cupping: For this type of cupping, the cups are applied and left in specific areas for a few minutes. This tends to be a stronger treatment, bringing up a lot of stagnation in the body, so it’s not always recommended for first-timers.
There are many types of cupping with glass, silicone—and even bamboo cups—used. Don’t know where to start? Talk with your practitioner at the beginning of your session. I spent 5 to 10 minutes before even laying down chatting with my practitioner about all of my symptoms so she could figure out the best technique. Don’t be afraid, speak up for your wellness!
Probably the biggest deterrent from starting cupping was seeing the gnarly marks people posted on their Instagram after a session. While my first experience looked like that friendly octopus went to town on my back, I was pleasantly surprised that it faded after 4-5 days.
My practitioner shed some wisdom on the subject, telling me that it all depends on the person and how static their fascia is. For me, I’m very tight (hence the back pain and constant need for massages), so it takes a little longer to fade back to normal. But for others with more active fascia, they don’t even show any marks, or it can fade after a day. Regardless of how long it takes, I like to think of it as a wellness badge of honor–a symbol of my lifelong commitment to improving my well-being, marks and all.
Last, but certainly not least, finding an experienced practitioner who you trust is key. I’ve been getting deep tissue massages for a little over a year now and only found two practitioners that I’ve connected with. When you feel a good vibe, and can fully trust someone with such an important task of your everyday wellness, keep them in your weekly routine.
While I know appointments like deep tissue massages and cupping are a privilege not everyone can partake in, they have both done amazing things for my physical and mental health. Not only has cupping helped improve my fascia and overall circulation, but it also has been an active part of my self-care routine and shown me that I am worth the work.
Interested in cupping? Book your first appointment on the Mindbody app! Prioritize your wellness and find a service you love, wherever you are.
Summer is officially here, and with that, there are so many fun activities that will motivate you to get outside to stay in shape and strive for those post-quarantine fitness goals. But before you decide to get outside to enjoy some walking, yoga, swimming, or hiking, remember these best practice skincare habits to protect your skin from common skin concerns, such as, sunburns, chafing, and excessive dryness.
Here, board-certified Dermatologist, Dr. Bottiglione, shares some advice to help your skin stay healthy as you embark into the great outdoors.
When going outside, the sun is going to be your biggest culprit for damaging your skin. While the sun boosts benefits like vitamin D production, take notice when your skin is overexposed to the sun’s harmful rays as it becomes dangerous. When overexposed to direct sunlight, the skin is irritated, causing sunburns, dryness, and sensitivity that can increase the chances for wrinkles and skin cancer as we age.
Luckily, staying inside when it’s so pleasant outside is not the only skincare alternative to avoid the sun’s damaging rays. Here are a few simple tips to prep your skin before stepping outside.
Opt to protect your skin with a clinical-grade sunblocking lotion of 15 SPF or higher.
“Anytime you go outside, you need to apply sunscreen to your skin,” advises Dr. B. “Ensure you apply sunscreen to the full body and reapply often. In the morning, after cleansing your face, is the best time to apply.” He recommends a spray for oily skin, or the Dermatologist’s Choice Sunscreen Enhanced Moisturizer for dry to combination skin types that needs a little extra hydration.
The key is the more intentional you are about proactively protecting your summer skin, the healthier it will be. It may sound simple, but your skin will be happier when you take a preventive approach rather than a reactive approach—for example, applying the sunscreen moisturizer before a walk to help to avoid the treatment of a sunburn after. When prepping your bag for the fun day ahead, make sure to add sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water.
Now the real excitement begins! However you decide to get your fitness outdoors, we have the skincare routine you need or a carefree and healthy day.
Deep breath. Like our favorite flow, these skincare tips will keep our mind—and our skin—at ease. If you take your yoga practice outdoors, wear an SPF shirt, and lay your mat under a nicely shaded tree to help shield you from excessive sun exposure.
“Avoiding direct sunlight and wearing protective clothing is smart to protect your skin from sun damage. Even if you are going for a relaxing walk or doing just a few sun salutations. Staying out of the direct sunlight will reduce your risk of sun damage and wrinkles.” - Dr. B
Swimming is one of the best cardio and strength training workouts, while also an enjoyable activity during the summer. Whether you are swimming in open water or laps in the pool, the excess amount of water with exposure to pool chemicals and environmental pollutants can cause skin irritation and dryness. To keep your skin hydrated and protected, Dr. B. recommends applying the Dermatologist’s Choice Pre-Bath Oil to your skin before entering the water. This will seal your skin’s protective barrier to avoid skin irritation from chemicals and debris. He adds, “The Pre-Bath Oil is what I give to all my patients with eczema or dry skin. It is the only thing that will protect and also deeply hydrate the skin.” Just apply this serum before you put on your sunscreen, and you're good to go!
With warm temperatures during the summer months, it’s the perfect time for hiking and exploring the mountainous outdoors. It is essential to take the necessary steps to avoid your skin becoming sunburnt, irritated, or breaking out. “Wearing a hat with a large brim that will shade your face and neck is key. A baseball cap is just not enough for the sun protection you need. After your hike, it is important to clean your face and pores of sweat, dirt, and toxins with Dermatologist’s Choice Glycolic Peel Cleansing Pads to avoid breakouts from occurring,” Dr. B. warns. Keep them in your bag for easy cleansing after a hike.
One of the biggest skin concerns cyclists or runners usually bring to dermatologists is chafing. Even if you’re just cruising along the seaside or taking a cycling class, those tight clothes and friction can cause some intense irritation and redness. “When you have an issue with chafing, you need to protect your skin. You need armor over the skin. Beeswax, for example, is thick to coat the skin and protect it. Another effective option is the hydrating Dermatologist’s Choice Pre-Bath Oil. For best results, moisturize your skin, and then add a piece of clothing to cover it (that is actually like armor),” Dr. B. shares. Are you a runner? Feel free to use this tip too before your next mile or 30.
At the end of your activity, the real results of that skin preparation set in. But sometimes, you need a little extra support afterwards. After any good workout, cleansing off the sweat, dirt, toxins, and irritant is paramount. Dermatologist Choice pH Balanced Cleanser helps to gently but effectively remove sweat, oil, and restore the skin’s natural pH levels.
Did you end up getting a sunburn, or is your skin dry from the elements? Soothe with the Pre-Bath Oil with natural oils like sunflower and jojoba oil for deep hydration and healing.
“Sun damage can manifest in multiple ways. Most often, you will notice a sunburn first, which can then lead to irritated skin—and over time, sun damage increases the appearance of wrinkles.” For safe measure, at night regenerate sun-damaged skin with Dermatologist's Choice Ultra Anti-Aging Cream with 15% non-neutralized glycolic acid to your skin. This powerful dermatology treatment rebuilds the collagen and exfoliates fine lines, sunspots, and acne on the skin. “Do not apply the Ultra Anti-Aging Cream on a sunburn or irritated skin,” Dr. B. shares. These are long-term habits to aid in maintaining your best skin health.
Capture your best skin with everything you need this summer with the Dermatologist’s Choice Skin Kit, and get 20% off your order with code MB20 at www.dermchoice.com.