A Dermatologist Weighs In On the Frozen Cucumber Skin Hack Going Around TikTok

Find out if the beauty trend really reduces puffiness and clears acne.

TikTok True or False: Frozen Cucumber for Skin
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If you're perpetually on the hunt for easy, affordable ways to recreate a spa-like experience at home (without a hefty, spa-like price tag), you can count on TikTok to come through with countless ideas. For instance, chances are you've spotted clips of people massaging their faces with chilled cucumbers while scrolling through the app lately. A modern twist on the classic cucumber-over-the-eyes spa treatment, TikTokers the world over claim the crunchy salad staple works wonders on skin when frozen, including reducing puffiness and dark circles, helping with acne, and diminishing signs of aging.

It seems plenty of people are loving this hack as videos with the hashtag #frozencucumber have 37.5 million views on TikTok right now. It entails freezing a cucumber (peeled, unpeeled, or sliced) and then massaging the water-rich veggie directly onto the skin.

Beauty fan Mireya Rios tried the hack, with her first video on the subject racking up more than nine million views. She has since made the practice part of her daily skin-care routine, according to more clips she's posted, noting how the cucumber hydrates her skin while also reducing puffiness and the appearance of blemishes. User @lisa.beautify also shared a video, suggesting followers use a frozen cucumber on their skin daily for a glowing complexion. It has garnered a cool three million views.

While it might sound like a self-care dream, is the frozen cucumber hack safe? And if so, is it even effective? Below, a skin-care pro explains whether or not healthier-looking skin can be found in the produce section.

What is the frozen cucumber skin-care hack?

There's no one specific method or set of guidelines for this TikTok beauty hack. Many users simply place a cucumber with at least one side sliced open in the freezer. Once it's adequately chilled, they apply the open end directly onto clean, dry skin as you would an ice roller. Some rub it around in circles while others make broad upward strokes for about 10 to 15 minutes, according to a slew of videos on the app.

While most users opt for this method, there are videos of people chilling cucumber slices before applying individual pieces to their face like a face mask. If using sliced cucumbers, you can simply let them sit on your face as you enjoy a few minutes of relaxation. This technique takes out the massage element.

No matter how you do it, applying frozen cucumber to your face will definitely feel cold, but many users say it's refreshing. Just be sure to avoid reusing the same part of the cucumber on your skin more than once. TikTokers suggest slicing off the end, tossing it after each use, and gently wiping any residual cucumber flesh from your face.

Does massaging a frozen cucumber on your face for better skin work?

It turns out that cucumbers are chock-full of skin benefits, but when applied topically, such as many TikTokers advise, those benefits might be pretty temporary, Michele Koo M.D., board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Dr. Koo Private Practice, tells Shape. "Cucumbers contain cucumulosic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties, calming redness, acne, and puffiness," she says. "They are also made of 90 percent water, which moisturizes and protects the skin, [and] they contain minerals and vitamins that act as antioxidants."

As for whether or not the frozen cucumber hack actually works, Dr. Koo explains why it might not be the skin-care cure-all some have been touting it to be. "The anti-aging benefits would be minimal since the topical absorption of the vitamins and antioxidants is likely fairly minimal," she says. "However, the cooling and moisturizing effect is extremely effective for decreasing swelling and redness."

Frozen cucumber may also help with inflammation from acne, according to Dr. Koo, who notes doing this hack daily could result in reduced scarring from new blemishes. It will likely have a "minimal" impact for existing acne scars though, she says. And don't expect to wake up free of under-eye circles after giving this TikTok beauty trend a try. "The cooling effect will definitely help puffiness, but this will most likely have very little effect — short- or long-term — on dark circles," she says.

If you're still game to give it a try, Dr. Koo agrees with TikTokers who recommend applying chilled cucumber flesh directly on the skin. "The key is to peel the cooled vegetable so the flesh sits against the skin to benefit from the water, minerals, and vitamins," she says. "The amount of absorption through the skin is limited, but the moisture and coolness do act as anti-inflammatory agents."

Is massaging a frozen cucumber on your face safe?

Avoiding freezer burn is paramount here, says Dr. Koo. "I feel a chilled, not frozen, cucumber would be far safer and more effective for decreasing puffiness and inflammation," she explains. "The frozen cucumber held for more than a few seconds at a time can actually burn the skin, similar to a frostbite, which could cause significant skin damage and irritation." In fact, some TikTokers do note mild discomfort from the chill. To get around this, Dr. Koo suggests using a peeled, refrigerated cucumber rather than a frozen one.

Additionally, you'll want to be careful when trying this hack while you're dealing with acne. "If the active breakouts are really inflamed and tender (red and angry), the skin will be too fragile to apply a frozen cucumber," says Dr. Koo. "This may actually damage the skin," she continues.

The TL;DR? As long as you don't have irritated active breakouts and use a chilled cucumber rather than a frozen one, this hack is safe to try for a few minutes at a time, according to Dr. Koo.

Massaging a frozen cucumber on your face improves skin: True or false?

TikTok True or False: Frozen Cucumber for Skin
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While you might not notice major, long-term benefits from using a chilled cucumber for skin care, this TikTok hack may offer short-term relief from puffy, inflamed skin. Just avoid using a cucumber that's too cold and be careful if you have an active breakout. (Next up: TikTok Users Are Putting Preparation H Under Their Eyes, and Dermatologists Have Thoughts)

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