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19 Apr

Is Cupping The Secret To Super-Smooth Legs?


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When you have T-2 days to leave for vacation and you've done little to get yourself into swimsuit-ready shape, you begin to get desperate. And creative. Self-tanning is the first line of defense, of course — everything looks slimmer when it's a shade or two tawnier. But beyond a drastic deprivation diet, it seemed like there were few options at my disposal until I remembered a quirky box that had been sitting on my desk for a week or two. Cheeky Physique's Cheeky Cups have a slightly silly name and bright-pink packaging emblazoned with lots of cellulite-fighting promises that belies their intense effectiveness, so I didn't ever think I'd really ever have a use for them.  

The at-home massage cups are a riff on cupping — a suction-massage technique used for centuries as a detoxifying, circulation-boosting healing method, primarily to aid in pain relief. But it turns out that a happy side effect of boosted circulation is a smoother, toned surface — cellulite, it seems, can be tamed by suction. Who knew? This at-home version is crafted from soft plastic, a modification of the glass cups used by traditional practitioners. They looked squishy and not as drastic as the glass cups I'd seen in umpteen alternative health stories over the years (Gwyneth Paltrow put cupping on the map in 2004, when she wore a backless dress to a premiere which displayed the telltale round circles left from the intense suction), so I wasn't prepared for the major discomfort I felt when I attached the large-size cup to my thigh. Following the instructions, I pressed the center of the cup down with my thumb and attached it to the skin above my knee, which I'd generously doused with oil, as directed. Ouch. The model in the how-to video on the brand's site did not look as pained as I felt dragging the cup up and down my leg and butt in the prescribed zig-zag pattern, making sure to spend extra time on the dimply part of my upper thigh. No pain, no gain, right? 

How does cupping work? The effect of the suction lifts the skin's connective tissue and reduces trapped fluid to reduce retention, eliminating puffiness and dimpling. It's a cheat, for sure, but it works. Visualizing my svelte legs in a bikini helped me get through massaging my second leg, and I noticed that my legs looked visibly red — all that blood flowing to the surface made my skin glow pink. There was an energizing effect that I didn't anticipate, I almost felt like I'd had a massage, though an intense one. My skin absolutely looked smoother and more toned (so much so that I wished I'd taken a before/after picture, even though that is so not my style). The results were actually so great that I considered, for the first time, using the smaller cup in the set on my arms, as suggested, even though, truthfully, I'm pretty happy with the way they look.

Had I found my miracle 'get bikini-ready in a snap' cure? Kinda — the treatment was really efficient and totally offered real results. How likely am I to use the cups on a regular basis? TBD. But they really do work in a quick-fix situation, so you can bet I'm packing them in my suitcase, along with my tiniest bikini.