Every movie with a makeover scene before the big night out has people putting slices of cucumber on their eyes. It’s none of the most famous beauty stereotypes. So how come the cucumber became the embodiment of beauty treatment?
Many clichés are based on truth but to get it across in a tick, some parts are exaggerated. As for the humble skin care ingredient cucumber, there are a couple of reasons why it’s a skin care superstar.
Did you know that cucumbers have a high water content? Between 94% and 96%? Read on how cucumbers can improve your skin texture, tone, and overall complexion – without weighing on your pockets.
- A little bit on the ingredient
- Characteristics and properties
- Uses in traditional medicine
- Culinary use
- An age-old favourite in skin care
- How to add cucumber to your routine
- How to prepare fresh cucumber juice
A little bit on the ingredient
The official scientific name of cucumber is Cucumis sativus. It’s a widely cultivated creeping vine plant belonging to the same family as melon and zucchini (Cucurbitaceae).
They’ve been cultivated for at least 3000 years. Its origins are from India and were probably introduced to Europe by the Greeks and Romans.
Characteristics and properties
Even though we treat cucumbers like a vegetable, they’re fruits. Remember that a cucumber consists of 94%-96% of water? At first glance, it seems a joke that it’s often called a superfood if it only consists of water, right?
But it’s the remaining 4%-6% that’s what makes it so valuable as a food and for skin care. It contains
- Lignans (precursor to phyto-oestregens)
- Vitamin K
- Carbohydrates (mono-, oligo-, and polysaccharides)
- Antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamin B and C
With such a high level of water content and its nutritional profile, it’s a great natural ionic drink after sports. It helps regulate the water balance in your body. The best way to replenish your body (especially after strenuous exercise) is in fact not by drinking water but to consume water through foods. And cucumbers don’t just provide the water you need but also nutritional elements that it needs to fortify and regenerate itself.
Uses in traditional medicine
Cucumbers were valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as an ingredient or food with exceptional healing power.
It’s considered a cooling food that helps clear heat. This is meant literally: You’ll feel cooler after you eat (enough) cucumber in summer. It can be also taken in what TCM considers warm or hot in your body.
For example, if you have too much heat in your body, you may feel (nonexhaustive list)
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive sweat
In such a case, heating cooling foods (and avoiding warming foods) can help. Cucumbers can also help clean your body of toxins and purify your blood.
Cucumbers are a relatively low-calorie food coming at about 15 calories per cup. They can be eaten raw and added to salads, cold soups, dips, or in juices and smoothies. Cucumbers can also be pickled.
An age-old favourite in skin care
Whether you’re a man or a woman, your skin is old or young, you’ve got dry or oily skin, cucumber is a superfood for your skin.
It’s not only because cucumbers consist of up to 96% of water. The carbohydrates also are important. Just like hyaluronic acid, these carbohydrates are sugar molecules. They form a protective gel-like layer on your skin that attracts water from the environment and retains it. The sugars found in cucumber are remarkably similar to those found in Aloe vera. This leads us neatly into
If you don’t have aloe vera at hand, you can substitute it with cucumber. It has a cooling effect and along with its anti-inflammatory properties, it can also soothe your skin.
Well, its cooling and anti-inflammatory properties of cucumber can also help to ease redness, swelling, and irritation caused by insect bites and rashes. It’s quite similar to aloe vera, it helps calm down irritated or sensitive skin.
Protect against environmental damage
Since cucumbers contain a high level of antioxidants such as vitamin C and caffein acid. You want to add antioxidants into your diet as well as your skin as ways to prevent oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are produced by your body when you’re exposed to the sun, smoke, or environmental pollution. They can damage your cells and lead to premature wrinkles or changes in your skin tone.
Combats premature ageing
The antioxidants in cucumbers can make them a powerful anti-wrinkle ingredient. For one, it has vitamin C that’s known to stimulate new cell growth. Then it also contains a range of vitamin A, B, and other antioxidants including lignans. Vitamin A, B, and C are some of the best vitamins you can use for your skin, with vitamin A being the queen in skin care.
Even out skin tone
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has several key roles to play in skin care. Aside from its vital role in boosting collagen (if you want to know why this protein is so important, check out 7 Ways To Improve the “Bounce” And “Spring” In Your Skin), it’s known for improving skin tone.
Vitamin C is a popular ingredient in products promising to enhance skin brightness and lift dark spots.
How to add cucumber to your routine
Many well known skin care brands use cucumber extracts in their formulation like since forever.
If you prefer the DYI route, adding a cucumber step to your routine is also easy. Since cucumber is made up of 94%-96%, it combines well with anything that’s also water-based such as Aloe vera, citrus juices, and honey.
You can make your own toner, face packs, or go with the classic cucumber eye treatment. You can also freeze a piece of cucumber – about the size of an ice cube. Use the frozen cucumber just like an ice cube to reduce puffy eyelids and swelling.
How to prepare fresh cucumber juice
If you go the DYI route and want to use fresh cucumber juice, choose a fresh and organic cucumber. You want to choose and use only pesticide-free cucumbers. Find a small to mid-sized cucumber with dark green skin but without signs of yellowing. A small size cucumber gives you enough juice to refrigerate for 24h. If you want to keep it longer, it’s best to freeze it.
Take your cucumber and wash it well, then chuck it into your food processor and blend it well. If you don’t have a blender, you can also grate it. Cucumber skin contains 85% of water and the pulp is made up of more than 97% of water. If you leave the skin on, you get higher content of nutrients, but it’s up to you to use it as a whole or peel it.
Let it sit for 15 minutes to separate the juice then pour it through a strainer to remove any solid bits, including seeds.
Now you have cucumber juice that you can use as a base in your face packs or apply it as is on your face. You can leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse it off or you can even leave it on your skin. This is up to your preference.
Since the juice is raw and unprocessed, it’s highly prone to bacteria and other microbes. This is why you should keep it fresh in the refrigerator for no more than a day.
If something is good enough for your smoothie, then surely it’s good for your skin as well. Cucumbers make a great low-calorie snack and can soothe your skin, as well as help combat, signs of ageing. What’s not to like?