Why Do Spas Put Cucumbers On Your Eyes?

Life is pretty stressful, and sometimes we go and solve that with a spa day. If we can afford it. Otherwise there’s always doomscrolling, talking to ourselves, and maybe having our brains so cooked we drive home from work without even putting music on the stereo. But on the topic of spas, there’s a pretty common pop-culture image of having cucumbers on your eyes while relaxing—which might prompt you to ask why do spas put cucumbers on your eyes?

Does It Work?

Apparently, yes. It’s not all shenanigans put forth by “big spa” to get people buying more cucumbers. Before use as a skincare-thing, cucumbers have been used for medicinal or therapeutic purposes for a long time. They’ve been used as a cooling agent to treat sunburn pain or inflammation. Contemporary studies seem to back up the use of cucumbers for their health benefits, as they can help brighten the skin or prevent wrinkles. 

If you’re wondering why specifically there’s something about putting cucumbers on your eyes, it’s because cucumbers can help with the dark circles we get when we’re tired. 

Further Reading: Why Do We Get Bags and Dark Circles Under Our Eyes?

Is There Anything Actually Special About Cucumbers?

All this might have you wondering what makes cucumbers specifically so special. For starters, cucumbers are very rich in water, which is what makes them a decent enough cooling agent. It’s like putting a cold washcloth on yourself, it can reduce inflammation by causing your blood vessels to constrict. 

But if that’s all cucumbers were good for, we’d be seeing more washcloths than cucumbers in pop-culture. One is reusable, after all. They’re also pretty rich in vitamin K, which is generally taken as a treatment for those dark circles you can get under your eyes. 

Cucumber juice is also often described as something that can help with skin elasticity—and by proxy wrinkles. It’s rich in ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which a few clinical studies have shown to help with skincare. It also can block some pigment production in the skin, which is why you often see it as an ingredient for treating dark spots. 

If you’re into skincare, you’re probably vaguely aware of hyaluronic acid. It’s in a lot of skincare products as a means to maintain more youthful skin. What makes hyaluronic acid molecules special (at least for your skin) is their ability to bond with a lot of water molecules, and its ability to penetrate into your skin. A common figure for the water-bonding with hyaluronic acid you’ll see is that these molecules can hold up to 1,000 times their own molecular weight in water. Put together that just makes hyaluronic acid really good at moisturizing you. Though potentially it can slow down the wound-healing process in some cases. It can also work too well, as hyaluronic acid just draws moisture from everywhere—and that can include you. Cucumber juice apparently prevents hyaluronidase from breaking down into hyaluronic acid, so we guess it’s commonly mixed with hyaluronic acid to moderate stuff. 

See if you know who’s making all the cucumbers here.