Cucumbers: Food for Your Skin
Little white ones, round yellow ones, and of course don’t forget the green ones, long and short. At every farm market stall we look, cucumbers are starting to pop up. And that’s a good thing, in so many ways.
They’re great tasting, low calorie, and packed full of compounds that make them a highly anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer food. Combine that with the fact that cucumbers are packed full of water (96%), vitamins, and minerals, and it’s easy to understand that cucumbers are hydrating and nourishing. We’ve already looked at how staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet are good for you, and good for your skin.
But did you know that cucumbers can be used directly on your skin? It’s true.
Have you ever seen those commercials where the woman has cucumber slices covering her eyes?
Do you know why she’s doing that? It isn’t just because it makes a good visual. It’s because cucumbers has several properties that are beneficial for your skin. Use of them in your beauty products help revitalize, rejuvenate, and firm the skin. The effects of cucumber when used on the skin include:
- Lightening of the skin – the effect is subtle, but there. Allowing fresh cucumber (slices, pure, mask, etc) to sit on your skin, gently lightens the skin, and can reduce the appearance of dark eye circles, redness from acne, dark scar tissue, and blotchy skin from sun exposure, and unwanted tans. Because cucumber is all natural, and very gentle, it is suitable for daily use, without causing irritation, to achieve an accumulative effect.
- Anti-inflammatory effects – Cucumber can help soothe sunburn, rashes, insect bites, acne, and irritation. Allowing cucumber slices, pure, or juice to sit against the skin where these ailments occur can help to soothe them, and reduce their duration. In some cases, it may even alleviate them entirely.
- Mild astringent properties – Cucumbers contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and caffeic acid. These two acids allow cucumbers to reduce water retention and swelling. That means cucumbers can help alleviate puffiness or swelling due to exhaustion, crying, insect bites, water retention, etc.
- Maintaining the youthful appearance of your skin – Cucumbers contain enzymes that slow down the destruction of elastin (a protein that gives your skin elasticity), and hyaluronic acid (a substance that helps your skin use it’s your own body’s moisture to stay hydrated from within). These are both substances that work together to make your skin youthful and healthy.
- Works as a skin toner – Used directly after cleaning skin, but before applying a moisturizer, toners provide extra hydration, help further clean pores, restores the slightly acidic pH balance of the skin, and helps your skin absorb your other skin care products. Toners are water based, and rubbed on the skin in small amounts. Some people use a few drops spread by their hands, while others prefer to apply a small amount to a cotton pad and gently rub it over the skin. The most common places to use a toner are the areas where people tend to get acne – so the face, and possibly the neck, the chest, and/or the back. Because cucumber is mild and gentle, and will not strip all your natural oils from your skin, a cucumber based toner will help give your face a bright, clean look.
Adding cucumber to your skincare regime has many wonderful benefits for your skin, and making use of those benefits can be as simple as placing a few slices on your skin for several minutes. You can also puree a cucumber and freeze the puree into small cubes. The cubes can be used one at a time, as they are thawed, by spreading the puree on the skin in the desired location. You can also juice a cucumber, and either freeze the juice in cubes, or keep the bottle in the fridge (use within 5-7 days). To use the juice, simply place a small amount onto a cotton ball.
If you don’t have the time or desire to deal with cucumbers in all their natural glory, be assured that more and more body products are incorporating cucumber: Lotions and creams, masks, toners, and even soap.