Cupping is a form of alternative medicine that has, according to some findings, been around since 300 AD. But of course, since the Rio Olympians were flashing their alien looking bruises around on their perfectly sculpted bodies all summer, anyone who has previously used the therapy is now clearly jumping on a bandwagon with good old Michael at the reins #TeamPhelps #FourMoreYears
But before there was Michael, there was Gwyneth...
Somewhere in the mix of all this, there is me, Katie, a girl who developed the CUTEST version of adult acne and searched high and low for a cure.
I never had to deal with acne in high school, so when it started cropping up in my last few years of design school, I was perplexed, but also attributed it to the mixture of not sleeping/dining hall pizza/Franzia stashed in someones locker that we drank out of Dora the Explorer Dixie cups.
But as I rounded my early 20s and headed into my mid with a much cleaner diet, better sleep habits, and a (somewhat) consistent exercise routine, my skin didn't seem to improve in the slightest. I sought out all the doctors--dermatologists, gynecologists, endocrinologists. I had blood work done only to tell me that everything was coming back A-OK. And yet, every doctor gave me a different pill. Birth control, antibiotics, topical retinoids, even a medication that is meant to lower blood pressure but is also used to treat female hormonal acne.
And after 3 years of this, with skin that actually kept getting significantly worse, I finally decided to give a very polite "fuck you" to modern medicine, and started seeking out alternative methods.
The super great thing about cystic acne is it is LITERALLY written all over your face. And even if you try and cover it, you're still left with cakey, bumpy skin that is usually dry and flakey from all the crazy shit you've put on it.
Thanks to my medical degree (aka Google), I started researching a holistic approach. I cut out dairy. I started taking magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, discovered that vitamin K was a thing. I started washing my face with oil. I stopped washing my face. Charcoal masks. Manuka honey masks. If there was a blog about it, I read it (and tried it).
When I reached this point in my acne travels, I was beyond frustrated. And people LOVED to give me unsolicited advice.(yesIknowProactiveworkedforAdamLevinebutITRIEDITGETOUTOFMYPIMPLYFACE)
So, thanks to my sister and my cool new brother-in-law who also used to suffer from acne, I started dabbling with a naturopath (or the Witch Doctor as my dad called her). And while that specific approach didn't work for me, it is the road that eventually lead me to acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
More specifically, me consuming food that my body is sensitive and/or allergic to, creating tiny permeations in my gut lining, through which all the inflammation from my body trying to break down these substances it doesn't like seeps out, and subsequently, due to my genetic predispositions, exits my body through the skin.
This sounding a little cray? Yeah. Try dating with a pimple beard for 2 years and you'll be thinking "cool, great, absolutely, how do we fix it?"
The rules were simple (and terrible). No wheat, no dairy, no sugar, no delicious. And for a girl who talks about cake on a daily basis, this was a hard one to stomach (ha).
Along with dietary changes, I had to drink the Chinese herbs that taste like bitter dirt. Like nasty, have to hold your nose while you drink and it still doesn't help how disgusting it is, dirt. AND receive needles and cupping once a week.
And now here I am, almost two years later, with (almost) completely clear skin. And yet I am finding myself in another skin related situation that people just LOVE to comment on.
My cupping marks are always on my back, but when they are on my neck and shoulders, they are visible. To me, it's like a tramp stamp--I forget they are there, but everyone else takes note.
Basically, I don't like to run around Los Angeles with a sign on me that says I GO TO PURE BARRE AND USE ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE AND SINGLE ORIGIN COFFEE IS MY LIFE SOURCE. Even though I am obsessed with all these things.
So heed this warning my internet amigos. Cupping, acupuncture, and all other natural treatments are FUDGING AWESOME. But The Olymipcs has shed a big old spotlight on it, so if you are going to wear a bathing suit, wear your cupping marks with as much confidence and joie de vive as that lady I see at Barney's with tape on her face from her most recent nose job every time I go.
You know who I'm talking about.