It’s no secret that veggies are good for you. But in this case—and on TikTok—we’re not just talking about eating them. They also have amazing skincare perks when you use them topically, beyond the latest moisturizer infused with a garden variety of vegetables. The frozen cucumber face hack, for example, has been gaining traction. Unclear what that is? Essentially, a frozen cucumber is massaged all over the face for a lifting effect. But should you really be swapping your ice roller for a frozen cucumber?
Read on for everything you need to know about the frozen cucumber hack taking over TikTok.
What are the perks of the TikTok frozen cucumber hack?
Using a frozen cucumber on the skin provides the complexion with many benefits. “Cucumber itself is packed with vitamins (vitamin C, Vitamin K and folic acid to name a few), minerals and nutrients that are soothing and nourishing to the skin,” says Joie Tavernise, esthetician and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare. “They have been shown to reduce irritation and inflammation, soothe acne-prone skin and reduce the size of impending pimples before they emerge, as well as delivering hydration since they are comprised of 95% water.” Additionally, frozen cucumber helps to tighten and reduce the appearance of large pores.
It’s not just the cucumber itself that delivers perks—it’s also its cool temp. “Introducing a low temperature to the skin will cause a few things to happen: the blood vessels to constrict to reduce redness, inflammation and puffiness will subside, undereye dark circles will appear brighter, and you will feel instantly refreshed and more awake,” Tavernise says.
Then there’s the massage, since those movements on your face and neck move excess fluid, or lymph, towards the lymph nodes so that the body can process and eliminate them, Tavernise explains. Fluid in the skin can sit and worsen with age, hormonal changes and allergies, so it’s essential to manually move this fluid in order to keep it from becoming stagnant.
Finally, skincare doesn’t get cheaper than this. “It is a low-cost method that is simple to use,” Tavernise says. “It is also a good choice for those who want a skincare routine that is minimal when it comes to active ingredients and want to avoid purchasing facial tools.”
Exactly how frozen should the cucumber be?
Not too frozen! Rebecca Marcus, MD, board certified dermatologist and founder of Maei MD, recommends a very cold cucumber over a frozen one. “Cucumbers have a high water content, and therefore when frozen, they turn into basically a block of ice,” she explains. “Although I don’t expect that a frozen cucumber would damage the skin, especially when applied in a sweeping motion, it would probably be uncomfortable, especially for the hand holding the frozen cucumber. A very cold cucumber would have the same vasoconstricting effect as a frozen one, but would be more comfortable to use.”
To prep your cucumber, Tavernise suggests starting by selecting a cucumber, cutting off one end, placing it in a clean plastic Ziploc bag and putting it in the freezer for at least one hour. Since cucumbers have a very high water content they can freeze quickly. Once it is very cold to the touch, remove the cucumber from the plastic bag and wrap the intact end in a clean paper towel so that it’s easier to maneuver. Let the cucumber sit for a few minutes so that it warms up slightly; you don’t want to risk a burn from using it straight out of the freezer. “For reference, you should be able to press slightly into the cucumber before using it on your face,” Tavernise says. “If you press on it and it is so hard that it will not move, wait a few more minutes before starting to massage your face. One more thing: make sure to always wash your face before starting to prevent the spread of any possible bacteria.”
How to use a frozen cucumber for facial massage
To reap the rewards, it’s all about having the right touch. “Use long strokes in an upward, outward motion,” Dr. Marcus says. “Avoid pulling down on the skin and use only very light pressure.
An easy place to start is in the center of your forehead. “Touch the cucumber to your skin firmly, but not too hard, and begin creating small circles,” Tavernise says. “You want to move outward from the center towards your temples. Keep in mind that all of your movements should be towards your lymph nodes, so you should always start in the center and work your way outward.” For your eyes and cheeks, move towards your ears, still using small circular movements. For the jawline and neck, use firm, swooping movements towards the earlobes and down the neck towards the shoulders.
It only takes about five to 10 minutes before you’ll see results. “Keep in mind that these results are temporary, however, and as soon as your skin warms up the effects will be lessened,” Tavernise says. “Even though the results do not last, this is still a great practice for the morning to wake up, or prep your face for your skincare regimen. It is important to keep a mindful watch on your skin when you start using this method. No two faces are alike, so there is a chance, albeit low, that your skin will have an adverse reaction to the cucumber.” Start by using this method once to see how your skin reacts, and from there it’s safe to do it a few times a week, before big events, or when you need a pick-me-up.
Try a frozen cucumber alternative
No cucumber? No problem. “When it comes down to it, your hands can be your best tool,” Tavernise says. “A simple facial massage can be very effective in moving the excess fluid towards the lymphatic system.” And there’s always tools like facial rollers, gua sha and ice rollers.
This is also where trendy skincare fridges come in to mimic the cooling effect of a frozen cucumber. (Of course, you can use your regular fridge, too.) “Put your products, such as serums, eye creams and moisturizers, in the fridge to keep them cold,” Tavernise says. “When applied, they will instantly soothe and de-puff skin for a brighter, glowing complexion.”
Should I trade my ice roller for the frozen cucumber hack?
Not so fast! “In my opinion, an ice roller would be a more convenient way to partake in this trend,” Dr. Marcus says. “The shape of the ice roller is designed specifically to glide over the contours of the face, and the material used to make an ice roller is designed to minimize friction when in contact with the skin, minimizing the chance of pulling or tugging at skin.”
Although Tavernise loves the frozen cucumber hack, she agrees that there are better ways to achieve the same results. “I love incorporating cold tools like gua sha and facial rollers into my routine,” she says. “I trust these to be more sanitary because I can thoroughly clean them after use, unlike a cucumber.”
Ultimately, a solid skincare routine will bring better results than pulling a cucumber out of your freezer. “Taking the time to invest in a skincare product regimen in the morning and night will lead to lasting positive changes in the skin,” Tavernise says. “When you create a consistent routine, you give the products a chance to work in your skin, and the time you take to massage them in is a wonderful way to put some self-care into your day.”