Summer Skin-Saver: Cucumbers!

Summer Skin-Saver: Cucumbers!

Fresh, crunchy cucumbers are not only low in calories and high in fiber—they're also full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can feed your complexion from inside and out. Here's how:

Refresh and protect.

Cucumbers contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, two antioxidants that, when applied to the skin, help fend off wrinkles, sun damage and more. Vitamin C builds collagen and elastin, protein fibers that give skin its youthful plumpness. "Caffeic acid inhibits cancer cells and protects skin cells exposed to UV radiation," says New York dermatologist Amy Wechsler, MD. No wonder many spas offer hydrating face treatments made of crushed cucumber. Home version for kitchen divas: In a blender, barely puree half a cucumber and 2–3 tablespoons of plain yogurt—it should be thick, not drippy. Pat all over your face and neck, sit back for about 15 minutes, then rinse and relish how good your skin feels.

Deflate puffy peepers
Chilled cucumber slices act like delicate mini ice packs, relieving puffy eyes. One reason: Cukes are 90 percent water, which helps them stay chilly even on hot spots. "Their cold minimizes the swelling by constricting the blood and lymph vessels that bring fluid to the eye area," says Dr. Wechsler.

Get the red out
Cucumbers' natural anti-inflammatories calm and soothe skin reddened by rosacea or sunburn. "Place thin, cold slices on the 'butterfly' region of your face, starting around your nose and spreading out onto your cheeks—or anywhere there's redness," says Dr. Wechsler. After a 15-minute lie-down, remove, then apply a light moisturizer.

Pamper every inch
If you're feeling adventurous, try this super skin softener used in Korean bathhouses. Grate a whole cucumber—including the dark green peel, which is rich in skin-friendly potassium, magnesium and copper, says Dr. Wechsler. Stir in just enough milk and safflower oil—two other skin wonders—to make a thick soup, and warm it in the microwave. Then, using a loofah, scrub down your whole body with the mixture and shower off (make sure your drain's got a good strainer). Your skin will feel satiny soft, and your bath and body will smell amazing.

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