This Cucumber Trick Reduces Irritated Skin— and TikTokers Are Raving About It

But does it actually work? Skincare experts explain.

Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

Even though cucumbers have been used topically for centuries, TikTok users (not surprised) have recently found a new way to use the vegetable during their skincare routine — and you'll be pleased to know how easy it is to pull it off.

The frozen cucumber hack has been making waves on TikTok for the past few months as a DIY alternative to using gua shas or cryotherapy. TikTok users have been putting a cucumber in their refrigerator or freezer until the fruit becomes chilled or frozen, and then massaging it onto their skin for a few minutes to reduce puffiness, redness, and irrirated skin.

"This is a really interesting hack because the frozen cucumber, or really any frozen item, will give some relief to things like redness, puffiness, or skin that feels irritated, dry or rough," Jennifer Wener, P&G senior skin-care scientist for GoodSkin MD, tells InStyle.

But while this DIY sounds like a great alternative to relieving irritated skin, does it actually work and how long do you have to do this trick to see results? We talked with a couple of skincare experts to find out.

How Do You Do the TikTok Frozen Cucumber Hack — and Does It Actually Work?

Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, FAAD, a board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist at the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York and clinical instructor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, says if you want to do this TikTok beauty hack at home, you'll need to buy a cucumber, wash and dry it, cut one end off and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Then you'll "apply the cut end of the chilled cucumber onto skin and gently massage to de-puff," she adds.

"Because cucumbers are made up of more than 90% water, not only will it act on concerns like puffiness but it will also help give some immediate relief to skin that could be dry or flaking," adds Wener.

Since cucumbers are known for their anti-inflammatory properties they are believed to decreased inflammation in part due to the presence of flavonoids and tannins in cucumbers. "It is thought that cucumbers may inhibit pro-inflammatory enzymes like COX-2. (Side note, inhibition of COX-2 is the mechanism of action of several prescription medications used to decrease inflammation and pain,)" says Dr. Murphy-Rose. "They can also soothe sunburns and can reduce swelling under the eyes." This is because the chilled cucumber can constrict blood vessels, which can decrease circulation to a certain area.

How Can You Incorporate This Hack Into Your Routine for Best Results?

"The best way to incorporate this into your routine would be to first cleanse your face then apply the frozen cucumber," says Wener. "Once the immediate benefits of feeling cool on your skin have gone away, you'll want to wash again (to get rid of any residual stickiness) and then complete your skincare routine."

According to Wener, this is the best way to combine acute (immediate) benefits with longer lasting ones, like "visibly reducing fine lines and wrinkles or keeping your skin hydrated for 24-hours," she says.

How Often Does Someone Need to Do the TikTok Frozen Cucumber Hack to See Results?

One of the reasons why this beauty hack has gone viral on TikTok is because the results are seen and felt almost instantaneously. "Using a chilled cucumber topically just once may show subtle improvement right away: reduced puffiness, redness and irritation. The soothing sensation is immediate," says Dr. Murphy-Rose

And the good news is, over the course of a couple of days or weeks, you may notice your acne subtly improving, the dermatologist adds.

However, Wener explains that while the results will be instant, they may not stay around for very long. "This hack really only works on the surface of your skin so as soon as your skin warms back up, you'll most likely start to lose those instant benefits," says Wener. "A great way to keep the visible benefits even longer is to tie it to a great skin-care routine."

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Are There Any Concerns One Should Have When Using This Frozen Cucumber Trick?

While the idea of massaging a frozen cucumber across your skin might sound nice, you risk burning yourself if you immediately use the cucumber after taking it out from the freezer. "Cucumbers are approximately 95% water and ice formation may burn skin if applied directly from the freezer," says Dr. Murphy-Rose. "A cucumber chilled in the refrigerator is a better choice."

Aside from that, the only other concerns you may want to be mindful of are the sticky, residual feeling that can be left on your skin after using the cucumber and making sure you're not reusing the same area of the cucumber over and over again for sanitary reasons, says Wener. "You will want to cut off the portion that has come in contact with your skin and discard it before refreezing the remaining cucumber," she explains.

And, of course, if you're allergic to cucumber, don't try this TikTok beauty hack. However, if this is the case for you, don't fret. One of the skincare products you may want to consider adding to your routine is a chilled gua sha to help replicate the cooling effect you would receive from doing the frozen cucumber hack. "Another great natural anti-inflammatory ingredient to try is aloe. You can chill topical aloe vera gel in the refrigerator and apply it to skin for soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits," Dr. Murphy-Rose explains.

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