Is it truly a “spa day” if you don’t end up with cucumbers on your eyes? Debatable.

Also up for debate: whether cucumbers slices really do anything or if it’s just a cuke. Here’s what you need to know about the science behind this self-care staple.

Fast facts: Using cucumbers on your eyes

Why do people put cucumbers on their eyes?

Cucumbers slices are typically used to lessen dark under-eye circles and puffiness.

What are the benefits of using cucumber on your eyes?

Cucumber slices could help moisturize the skin around your eyes, lighten dark circles, and reduce swelling. How can they pull this off? Cucumbers are filled with plenty of water, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folic acid.

How do you use cucumber on your eyes?

Chill the whole cucumber in your refrigerator for at least an hour. When you’re ready to use it, wash and pat dry. Slice it into thin slices and apply the slices to your eyes for about 15 minutes. (Peeling is optional.)

What are the side effects of using cucumber on your eyes?

Unwashed cucumbers can have lingering pesticides or bacteria that could cause eye infections. It’s also possible to be allergic to cucumbers. You can do a patch test by putting a cucumber slice on your inner wrist to test for a reaction.

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People put raw cucumber slices on their eyes to reduce puffiness and dark circles. They also use them to give the skin a dewy, refreshed look. Cucumber extracts are even used in cosmetics (like eye lotions and gels) for the same reasons.

Since raw cucumbers contain lots of water, the slices feel cool on your eyes when you apply them. That can work like a cold compress — especially if you chill the cucumber before using it.

Resting a veggie over your eyes encourages you to close them during your self-care routine. That can help you relax and unwind.

There’s evidence that cucumbers can be beneficial for your skin. But if you’re looking for major results, just two slices prob aren’t going to cut it.

Research suggests cucumbers are good for your skin

Cucumbers are high in vitamin C (an antioxidant) and folic acid (a B vitamin).

Vitamin C might help stimulate new cell growth in the skin around your eyes. Folic acid might help fight puffiness and reduce swelling. How? It may help stimulate the antioxidants that fight toxins in your skin. That may clean and soothe damaged skin.

A 2012 research review also suggested that applying cucumbers to your skin can reduce dark circles. That’s thanks to the vitamin K it contains. Cucumbers might also brighten your skin because they can inhibit an enzyme called tyrosinase. Tyrosinase makes your body produce more melanin (a pigment that darkens your skin and helps protect it from UV rays).

Less tyrosinase = less melanin = less color.

But there isn’t evidence two slices have all these benefits

It’s unclear whether simply applying slices to your eyes will work magic. There aren’t any current studies that confirm slices are enough for you to see the beneficial effects. What evidence does exist? Cucumber juice, seed extract, and flowers can all be good for your skin when they’re used as added ingredients.

Eye gels or creams that contain cucumber can moisturize the skin and, according to at least one 2010 study, might even help prevent wrinkles.

If you want to try cucumber slices on your eyes, here are the steps to follow.

  1. Put the whole cucumber in the refrigerator for at least an hour before you use it.
  2. Thoroughly wash your cucumber. (This can remove any bacteria or pesticides that could harm your eyes.)
  3. Slice the cucumber into 1/2-inch slices.
  4. Rinse the slices under cold water.
  5. Get comfy with your head tilted slightly back and apply a cucumber slice to each eye.
  6. Relax for about 15 minutes.
  7. When the cucumber slice becomes warm against your eye, flip it over.

Pro tip: Try applying the cucumber slices at the same time as you use a face mask.

All parts of the cucumber are generally considered safe to use on your skin.

Check for a cucumber allergy

However, it is possible to be allergic to cucumbers, so test it out first. Try laying a slice of cucumber on your wrist to see if there’s a reaction. If your skin gets red, discolored, or itchy, remove the cucumber and don’t use it on your eyes.

Always rinse your cucumber before using it

It’s really important to you use a clean cucumber on your eyes. Any lingering bacteria could put you at risk of developing an infection. You also shouldn’t reuse cucumber slices for the same reason.

Cucumber slices alone might not be enough to reduce dark circles or puffy eyes. Here are some other things you can try.

  1. Look for products with cucumber extracts. Many skin and eye care products contain cucumber ingredients, which might help you see results faster.
  2. Drink chamomile tea. Chamomile also helps reduce inflammation and swelling in your body.
  3. Apply tea bags to your eyes. Tea bags can cool your eyes as the liquid evaporates when applied for 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Avoid excessive salt in your diet. Salt can make puffiness worse, including around your eyes.
  5. Exercise. Puffiness around your eyes is often the result of a buildup of lymphatic fluid. Exercise can help drain some of that fluid.

Cucumbers have been used as part of self-care for a long time and there’s no reason to stop. There is some science to suggest that they can cool your eyes, reduce swelling, and make your eyes brighter. Just make sure you use clean, peeled cucumber slices. Gels and creams with cucumber as an ingredient work too.