Thumb through a beauty magazine or a luxury resort brochure and you'll probably see the serene image of a recumbent woman wearing a pristine robe and artfully wrapped towel turban, face slathered in a luscious cream mask... with perfectly shaped cucumber slices carefully positioned over her eyes. But is there more to this iconic image of spa luxury and blissed-out relaxation?
Cure or cliché?
Many anti-aging formulations feature cucumber extract to help bolster claims that include hydrating, skin lightening, pore tightening, and wrinkle reduction. These benefits would be due to cucumber's relatively high levels of skin-loving nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin K, caffeic acid, and antioxidants that counteract the skin-aging effects of UV rays, HEV rays, and environmental pollutants. The challenge is using the appropriate technology to deliver those molecules into targeted areas to counteract signs of skin aging. But can you really get a wide range of benefits like this from a solitary cucumber slice? Unlikely.
Peeling Away the Facts
Science does support the claim that chilled cucumber slices reduce undereye puffiness and swelling. The key word here is "chilled." Ask yourself what happens if the cucumber isn't chilled? —Not much. It's the cool temperature and high water content of a chilled cucumber slice that provide the soothing, de-puffing benefits. When skin is cooled down, swollen blood vessels constrict, slowing blood flow and reducing the excess fluid that causes puffiness and inflammation. The cooling effect is also because cucumbers consist of over 96% water, and when placed over the eyes, cucumber slices give off water that evaporates at room temperature, relieving inflammation and irritation.
But do you need a cucumber for that? A cold compress over the eyes would provide similar benefits. Why not go a step further and consider the selection of effective eye creams that contain a team of peptides, amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and natural botanical extracts to soothe, de-puff, brighten, firm, and lift the eye areas?
Food on Your Face
Beyond using chilled cucumber slices as a vehicle for de-puffing and soothing, look for cucumber extract in skin-soothing anti-aging masks. But why stop there? Strawberry extract contains collagen-boosting ellagic acid. Raspberry extract provides strong antioxidant protection against UV and HEV rays. Black currant extract is rich in omega-6 fatty acid for enhancing elasticity. Avocados provide mega-moisture and diminish inflammation. Pumpkin has beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc to clarify, brighten, and counteract premature signs of aging.
So Here's the Dill
Bottom line? Puffy eyes, irritation, and swelling are caused by two specific culprits: compromised blood flow and fluid retention. Chilled cucumber slices boast hydrating and cooling properties that really can soothe and reduce swelling—as a quick fix. Plus, the refreshing smell and feel are attractive for individuals in search of a healthy, pampered spa experience.
Still, for long-term benefits, look to cooling eye masks that also include advanced and effective anti-aging ingredients... and don't forget your beauty sleep.
Founder, formulator, and CEO of Le Mieux Cosmetics and PurErb Herbology-based Skincare & Aromatherapy, Janel Luu has over 35 years experience in the beauty industry as an educator, researcher, and formulator. She has taught over 37,000 skincare professionals and physicians on topics ranging from anti-aging cellular technology to centuries-old Meridian techniques.
Dermascope Jan 2019