Why Cucumbers Reduce Under-Eye Puffiness
Between the visions of happy spa-goers covering their eyes with cold cucumbers and the luxurious look of a pitcher filled with cucumbers and ice-cold water, it’s easy to think that cucumbers have the ability to heal and restore vitality– but now, dermatologists and aestheticians are in a position to prove it.
Cold cucumbers are really, really effective at quelling puffiness and discoloration in the under-eye area. The vegetable’s high water content hydrates the skin as the cool temperature decreases the flow of blood to the space around the eyes. Together, the additional hydration and reduced blood flow can soothe the sensitive under-eye skin and alleviate swelling– the pernicious cause of latter-stage wrinkles that often appear around aging eyes.
“If puffiness is accompanied by irritation, home remedies like cucumbers or chamomile tea can help reduce the inflammation and swelling,” Austin-based dermatologist Dr. Gregory Nikolaidis once told the Huff Post Beauty. “Cucumbers have powerful antioxidants and flavinoids that are thought to reduce irritation. And they need to be chilled for a reason, as he points out that “cold cucumbers or tea bags also work in part by the cooling effects of evaporation, and are best applied for four to five minutes.”
Of course, genetics may contribute to wanton under-eye puff, but lifestyle choices like not sleeping enough, smoking, and drinking are all also responsible for people having bags under their eyes. Still, a cucumber’s potent combination of lymph-soothing antioxidants (which are thought to reduce irritation) and their cooling effect (which reduces swelling) make them an ideal remedy in the short term.
When cucumbers are grown organically (e.g., in your backyard) these soothing properties are enhanced, as organic and non-GMO produce has been shown to produce a higher amount of flavinoids and more potent antioxidants. Plants produce antioxidants in order to protect themselves from stresses (like insects) that are removed with the use of chemical pesticides and the kind of irradiation that is applied when produce is shipped across the country or internationally. In the course of these long journeys from garden to consumer, many nutrients are lost. (Listen to the NPR story, below.)
Overall, fresh garden cucumbers make a better skin ally– the vegetable contains a number of B vitamins (B1, B5, and vitamin B7, also known as biotin, which is very good for hair) that are known to help ease feelings of anxiety and buffer some of the damaging effects of stress, which ultimately wreaks havoc on our skin. Cucumbers are also rich in two of the most basic elements needed for healthy digestion: water and fiber. This, combined with the antioxidant content and the cooling effect they can have on our eyes when applied topically, make them the ultimate garden superfood– a simple green vegetable capable of healing us on the inside and out.