There are certain beauty rituals that continue to be passed down from generation to generation, and one of those more famous ones belongs to thinking that cucumbers reduce undereye puffiness. It's likely you've done this at some point, not to mention offered up this bit of advice to others, but what's the science behind it? Do cucumbers really reduce puffiness, or is it just the fact that they're cold?
In this week's edition of Beauty Myths, we turned to Dr. Gregory Nikolaidis, an Austin-based dermatologist, as well as Dr. Debra Jaliman, New York dermatologist and "Skin Rules" author, to break down the specifics behind the causes of undereye puffiness and the oft-referenced method of applying cucumbers to reduce the swelling.
"Temporary puffiness around the eyes is often caused by a buildup of lymphatic fluid," says Dr. Nikolaidis. "In these cases, doing things to promote lymphatic drainage like massage or exercise helps more than cosmetic creams. People who sleep on their stomach will do better if they sleep with their head elevated. Avoid excess salt or foods that contain excess salt like soy sauce or pizza. Drinking plenty of water can help flush out the swelling and puffiness."
While it may be a no-brainer that a low-sodium diet will help keep puffiness at bay, it is easier said than done. Naturally, it's around this time we grab a cold cucumber, slice it up, throw a few on our eyes and hope for the best. And while the coolness factor admittedly feels pretty good, how effective is this technique?
"If puffiness is accompanied by irritation, home remedies like cucumbers or chamomile tea can help reduce the inflammation and swelling," says Dr. Nikolaidis. "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."
But it might not all be to blame on diet choices, there are other reasons at play. "Genetics may contribute to this, but lifestyle choices are also a factor," says Dr. Jaliman. "Not sleeping enough, smoking and drinking are also responsible for people having bags under their eyes." As far as any measures that may help stave off puffiness in the morning, both doctors mutually agree on a good night's sleep.
Conclusion: Cucumbers contain antioxidants which are thought to reduce irritation, while the cooling effect reduces swelling.
For Beauty Myths, we've enlisted the help of pros to help debunk and demystify some of the most popular advice out there. Do you have a myth you'd like us to investigate? Let us know in the comment section, and check out previous questions in the gallery below.