Can cucumbers really combat puffy eyes?

The image of cucumber slices over eyes has become synonymous with facials and beauty treatments – but are there any genuine benefits to the ritual? 

Scroll through Instagram or online ads for facials and you will see this image time and again.

But while we all know it probably feels nice and relaxing, have you ever wondered if this really can cure those bags under your eyes, or is it just for show?

Why cucumber is popular in skin treatments

The natural soothing effect of cucumber has long been touted in Ayurvedic medicine and the science shows these fruits do contain some powerful ingredients.

“Cucumber is very good for you,” Brisbane naturopath Johanna Gibson says.

“They’re very high in water content, which is obviously hydrating.

“They’re really high in antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals as well, like vitamin C and K, and potassium.

“Plus, there’s the fibre. Basically, they are really good at regulating your digestive system.”

There is also evidence cucumber extract in moisturiser can help hydrate the skin, and sooth irritations including sunburn.

Are cucumber slices really beneficial for puffy eyes?

Despite packing a punch when it comes to nutritional goodness, experts agree applying cucumbers directly to your eyes might feel relaxing – but it will have few long-term effects.

“This is such an interesting topic, as cucumber has been used in skin remedies dating back to antiquity,” Melbourne dermatologist Katherine Armour says.

“Anecdotally, cucumber does have soothing properties, and can temporarily relieve puffy eyes, and possibly even dark circles.

“However, there is a real paucity of scientific data to back up these anecdotally recognised traditional claims.”

Johanna agrees cucumber is unlikely to have an impact if applied externally.

“It certainly looks luxurious, and I don’t see anything wrong in doing it whatsoever, but I think you get the biggest benefit from cucumbers by eating them,” she explains.

Good remedies for puffy eyes

For people who suffer from puffiness and dark circles around their eyes the bad news is it mostly comes down to “the genetic side of things”, according to Johanna.

She suggests a holistic approach by focusing on your diet and getting plenty of rest.

“Everything starts in the gut,” she says.

“So, it’s really good just to go back to basics – eat whole foods, watch your sugar and alcohol intake, and get a good amount of sleep.”

When it comes to directly treating the skin around your eyes, Katherine recommends some other products that may yield better results.

“Eye gels, or standard moisturisers containing anti-inflammatory antioxidants such as niacinamide, vitamin C, lycopene, ferulic acid, resveratrol, and liquorice root extract may be helpful in this context,” she says.

“Ice packs or cooling eye masks which fit the eye area are also a good option.”

Written by Alex White.