Cucumber is a nutritious vegetable that's also used for promoting healthy skin. Chilled cucumber slices can be used to reduce puffiness around your eyes, while cucumber juice or mash is commonly used to make natural face masks. Other vegetables, fruits and plants can be substituted for cucumber and provide your skin with similar benefits. Consult with your dermatologist about the safety of applying plant products to your face.
Using chilled or frozen cucumber slices provides a common and natural method of reducing inflammation around your eyes. Cucumbers are often the right size to encompass the entire area around your eyes and they're relatively cheap. Any cold substance will help reduce swelling because blood and lymph vessels constrict when subjected to a chill, but size, availability and cost are all important factors. As such, good replacements for cucumbers include sliced and chilled yams, potatoes, zucchini and eggplant. Further, special plastic eye covers are available that contain gel and can be frozen or chilled.
Cucumber is a rich source of silica, a mineral that helps to strengthen the connective tissues in your skin. Cucumber is also full of water, which hydrates your skin and helps it to maintain elasticity. Further, cucumber is slightly astringent and can clean the excess oil or sebum from your face, which helps reduce the incidence of clogged pores and blackhead formation. Many fruits and vegetables contain a high percentage of water, but some contain other medicinal properties that make them adequate replacements for cucumbers in facial masks.
Aloe vera juice is highly astringent and is commonly used in skin care and cleansing products. Aloe vera also displays antiseptic properties, which deter the proliferation of bacteria and other microorganisms that contribute to skin infection or irritation. As such, aloe vera is a worthy replacement for cucumber in facial mask recipes.
Avocados don’t mimic many of the medicinal properties of cucumbers, but they're commonly used within natural face mask recipes because of the essential oils they contain. Avocados are rich in omega fatty acids, which help to moisturize your skin and retard inflammation. Avocados are also rich sources of vitamin E.
Mangos are rich in vitamins A and C, which are both powerful antioxidants that deter the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C -- ascorbic acid -- is also required for your body to form collagen, the connective tissue that gives skin its stretchiness. As such, mangos are used in some natural face cleaning recipes, although their higher sugar content leaves a sticky feel on your skin.
- Nutrition and Wound Healing: A Vital Role in Wound Management; Wendy Reardon
- Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine; Simon Mills and Kerry Bone
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.