Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
If you have TikTok, you might have come across the 5 minute face lift hack — and the results are impressive to say the least. Then there's the obsession with gua sha facial massage tools, a centuries old technique that can help relax muscle tension and reduce puffy skin. Of course, we can't forget skin icing: using ice cubes or ice globes to bring down swelling and redness. Lately, though, TikTok's beauty enthusiasts can't get enough of the frozen cucumber hack, which they claim makes dull skin glow.
What is TikTok's frozen cucumber hack and why has it gone viral?
Basically, people are ditching their jade rollers and gua sha tools for a chunk of frozen cucumber. The #frozencucumber hashtag has 5.3 million views and counting, and while a handful are obviously to do with food, the majority are skincare related. Massaged around the face for a couple of minutes (just as you would a facial roller) some TikTokers say frozen cucumber can help "remove blemishes" and "brighten" under eyes.
Admittedly, they are big assertions for a simple salad ingredient, but others mention frozen cucumber helps reduce puffy eyelids and swelling, while the cool sensation works to bring down inflammation. Interestingly, TikTok's Audra Jeang even says that frozen cucumber hydrates skin and provides acne-relief, and TikToker Emily Dombrowski reports immediate brightness after just one go. She also has a trick for making sure it's as hygienic as possible: cutting off the end and re-freezing til you use it next.
What are the benefits of using frozen cucumber on skin and can it help reduce puffiness & redness?
With more than 96% water, cucumber is naturally moisturising, while research cites it is rich in other buzzy skincare ingredients. Dr Kemi Fabusiwa, medical doctor and director of Joyful Skin, explains, "Cucumber has long been used in the skincare world particularly underneath the eyes due to its cooling properties and high levels of ascorbic acid," otherwise known as vitamin C. This ingredient is known to brighten skin over time, increase collagen levels and help to protect skin against environmental aggressors, such as pollution. Dr Fabusiwa continues, "Due to these characteristics, cucumber will likely have some benefit to the skin in dampening down inflammation and brightening dark spots," but she says it's much better to keep your kitchen ingredients in your stomach rather than on your face. "This is because of the high levels of acids in some foods, which can cause significant irritation if used inappropriately," adds Dr Fabusiwa.
Similarly, TikTok doctor Dr Karan Raj mentioned that cucumber has a high water content, so might help hydrate skin and make it look fuller, but that's more likely if you eat it and drink plenty of water. Just like the skin icing trend, the frozen element could be the real game-changer here. "The ice in the frozen cucumber might cause blood vessels in the skin surface to constrict," wrote Dr Raj on TikTok, which temporarily reduces puffiness and redness. This might even help reduce the size and discomfort of inflamed acne, which TikTok's skincare enthusiasts attest. However, Dr Raj said, it might be better to eat the cucumber instead.
Does the frozen cucumber hack actually work?
Using a gua sha tool is the best part of my skincare routine. It helps relax my jaw, which typically holds tension, and aids the absorption of serums and creams. As soon as I spotted the frozen cucumber hack, I knew I had to try it. Firstly, skin icing was transformative and made my skin glow. Secondly, cucumber is cheap.
I sliced off a fifth of a large cucumber (ensuring it was big enough to hold comfortably) and froze it overnight inside a small plastic bag to keep it clean. Most days, I wake up with puffy skin, lips and eyes but throw in the warmer weather and awkward sleeping positions, and it's a bit more noticeable to me. One morning, after cleansing my skin with the NEOSTRATA Mandelic Clarifying Cleanser Gel, £23, I smoothed the frozen cucumber over my face in upwards and circular motions. As you can imagine, it was uncomfortably cold at first, but the warmth of my skin meant it melted quickly.
Sure, some TikTok hacks are faddy, but this felt incredible. Unlike jade, quartz or amethyst rollers which can squeak or snag on skin, the cucumber glided so easily. It was so soothing and relaxing, I closed my eyes and imagined myself undergoing a pro facial for a couple of minutes. While it didn't do anything to brighten up my skin (and is unlikely to after just one go), it did help soothe my swollen lips, cheeks and eyes, and reduced a couple of red spots ever so slightly. The difference isn't much to shout about, though.
Things get very slippery as the cucumber defrosts, but it felt just like a serum on my skin, so I massaged it in with my fingertips. That said, I have to admit I'd rather use a hyaluronic acid or vitamin C product such as CeraVe's Hyaluronic Acid Serum, £17, or La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C10 Serum, £38, as the skin-quenching effects are much better. Dr Fabusiwa agrees: "Instead, stick to a tried and clinically tested serum for safer more effective results," she says.
While it felt amazing, reusing cucumber might not be as sanitary as using a jade roller or gua sha tool, as the smooth, non-permeable surface makes them much easier to clean. With tools like these, you can be rest assured that you won't be smearing bacteria around your face, which could potentially lead to breakouts. There's also a chance the cucumber could turn to mush if it's being thawed, handled and frozen multiple times, and that could get a little messy.
Aside from those little gripes, frozen cucumber is definitely something I'd incorporate into an at-home facial, especially in the summer. You won't find anything as soothing or relaxing, but I'd throw it away when done.
Which skincare products or tools can help reduce puffiness and redness?
If frozen cucumber isn't for you, you might like the Nurse Jamie UpLift Facial Massaging Beauty Roller, £55, which is like a workout for your face. The hexagonal barrel and tourmaline quartz stones feel like expert fingers pummelling your skin. Combine it with the iS Clinical Hydra Cool Serum, £50, for a facial experience. Or you might like to stick to gua sha. Try the Honey Belle Rose Quartz Gua Sha, £21, which works with any hydrating cream or serum and slips over skin easily.
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