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Photographer: Shana Novak; Stylist: Michelle Longo; Hand model: Divya Sethi; Designer: Lauren Park

What’s good enough for your salad must be good enough for your skin right?

In your gut, cucumbers deliver inflammation-fighting vitamin C and caffeic acid, and when applied to your face, these same nutrients can provide a positive effect for rejuvenating your complexion.

Cucumber benefits for skin:

  • antioxidant activity
  • skin nourishment (as a juice)
  • soothing and cooling effects
  • reduce swelling
  • alleviate sunburn

Cucumber is 96 percent water, making it a hydrating addition to DIY skin treatments as well as being generally safe for sensitive skin due to its lack of harsh, potentially irritating ingredients.

If you’d like to add it to your routine, here are some ideas for how to do so:

1. Apply a cooling eye treatment to help with puffy eyes

We all lead hectic lives and many of us get less sleep than we need (or would like). Because of this, puffy eyes are something we all experience at one point or another. Luckily, cooled cucumber can aid in de-puffing the eye area as well as provide some cooling relief for general irritation.

The juice of a cucumber can not only reduce swelling in the eye area, it can also soothe damaged skin and make your eyes look and feel refreshed. This is due to cucumber’s vitamin C and folic acid content.

But don’t forget the eye cream after! Cucumber doesn’t have the power to moisturize the eye area based on water content alone. To lock in the hydration, you should follow up your cucumber eye treatment with an eye cream of your choice.

2. Mist a DIY toner to soothe burnt or damaged skin

Sometimes, even on our best sunscreen days, we still get sunburnt. A homemade cucumber toner can help with the damaged skin, providing a cooling effect.

Make your own cooling toner (based off this recipe):

  1. Wash, peel, and slice a cucumber and add to a pan with enough water to cover the cucumber pieces.
  2. Heat over a low flame for roughly 5-7 minutes before transferring the contents to a blender or food processor and blending until smooth.
  3. From there, pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or squeeze with a cheesecloth to remove any unblended pieces.
  4. Transfer the remaining liquid to a spray bottle or other sterilized container.
  5. Feel free to add a teaspoon of rose water or witch hazel to amplify the hydrating and healing mixture.

Note: Don’t keep the mixture any longer than 3 to 4 days. Without preservatives, the mist can go bad.

3. Make a cucumber mask to help with irritated and acne-prone skin

Cucumber is also extremely beneficial to those with irritated and acne-prone skin. Infuse the soothing ingredients of cucumber water with bentonite clay to create a mask that can protect against skin irritation and swelling.

For acne-prone skin,cucumber juice can help dilute potent essential oils like tea tree oil. This way you can fight breakouts without drying out or stinging your skin. Cucumber can also be rubbed directly on the skin, over acne spots, or even put under a sheet mask while waiting.

4. Wash your face with cucumber water

For a simple morning wash, mix cucumber water with other beneficial ingredients like aloe vera, green tea, or castile soap. (Plus, if your tap water source is questionable, cucumber water may be a good swap.)

You can also splash your face with cucumber water to feel refreshed and awake at any time of day.

5. Create a DIY cucumber body lotion

Creating your own cucumber-based body lotion is quick and easy. Take your regular DIY lotion recipe and instead of normal water, use cucumber water.

Hello Glow uses a mixture of aloe vera, vitamin E, and coconut milk to create an all-natural hydrating body lotion. If your skin is happier with thicker, gel-based lotions, try this one by Thought.

6. Relax with a hydrating cucumber mask

Since cucumber is 96 percent water, you can mix it with other natural ingredients to create a mask that helps to exfoliate the skin and soak up cucumber’s soothing qualities.

Use kitchen leftovers: A mixture of cucumber, honey, and yogurt combine to create a hydrating and delicious-smelling mask. Feel free to get creative, adding ingredients like oats to the mix for calming and exfoliating properties.

7. Eat, drink, and stir in your skin care

Water is something your body needs to perform vital functions — from regulating temperature to maintaining a healthy digestive system — so adding sliced cucumber to the water you drink is an amazing way to hydrate. Especially if you’re not fond of the taste of plain water.

Want to get straight to the chase and not worry about your DIY treatments growing mold? Try professionally-formulated products instead. You’ll find it labeled as the ingredient “cucumis sativus.”

And if your skin really drinks up cucumber, make sure it’s one of the first few ingredients on the list. This increases the likelihood of potency.

Best cucumber products to try:

You may have read suggestions that pure cucumber is a miracle product, but so far, most research has only been performed in controlled labs and on cells or mice.

In those cases, researchers also apply cucumber extract — a more concentrated form — and not plain cucumber.

Here are some things plain cucumber can’t do for your skin:

  • Whiten your skin: There are no studies that show that cucumber can help to lighten or whiten skin. Lightening dark spots happens with dead cell turnover (exfoliation), and production of new skin cells.
  • Hydrate your skin: Water alone is never a sufficient moisturizer, and the same goes for cucumbers. For any DIY cucumber treatment, it’s important that you follow up that step with a hydrating moisturizer. In fact, researchers found that a cucumber formula without moisturizer resulted in decreased hydration.
  • Give your skin enough vitamins: While cucumbers do contain vitamins C, K, and B as well as antioxidants, given that cucumbers are 96 percent water, the chances of receiving high enough doses of these vitamins for serious skin concerns is questionable at best.

Chances are you’ll need way more cucumbers than we normally have left over from making a salad to get a verified skin boost. And if your beauty is about being sustainable, clean, and green, eating cucumbers and sticking to store-bought might be your best bet.


Jennifer Still is an editor and writer with bylines in Vanity Fair, Glamour, Bon Appetit, Business Insider, and more. She writes about food and culture. Follow her on Twitter.