Monday, February 8, 2010

Cucumber extract

Cucumber extract (INCI: Cucumis sativa extract) can be found as a powdered extract or a liquid extract, but both are water soluble. You can use the powder at 0.5% to 1% or the liquid at your supplier's suggested usage (probably 1 to 50%). I'll focus on the powdered extract for this post...

Cucumber is considered emollient, soothing, astringent, and hydrating. It's generally suggested for normal to oily skin because of the astringency. It's also considered an anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant, although some people can be sensitive to it (so is it really an anti-irritant?) We also find astringent and analgesic properties in cucumber. So let's take a look at cucumber to see if it can live up to all these expectations!

Cucumber extract contains tons of polysaccharides, polyphenols, glycosides, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals, all of which offer awesome qualities to our products.

We find polysaccharides in aloe vera: They offer hydration, emolliency, and anti-inflammatory properties by creating a light gel barrier on the skin. In cucumber extract, they will behave the same way, offering an increase in hydration on the skin and moisturizing.

We find tons of polyphenols in cucumber in the form of gallic acid, coumaric acid, caffeic acid, and trans-cinnamic acid, amongst others. As we know, all of these are fabulous anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories. Gallic acid also offers speedier wound and burn healing. Coumaric acid offers anti-bacterial and anti-fungal features, as well as possible UV protection. Caffeic acid offers fungicidal and post-sun exposure properties. Cinnamic acid good post-sun exposure and possible AHA like properties. We also find p-hydroxybenzoic acid, which is very closely related to salicylic acid, and behaves like a very effective anti-inflammatory and analgesic.

Cucumber extract contains triterpene glucosides called cucurbitacins. These are found in squashes like pumpkins and melons. These glucosides are amongst the most bitter substances found in the world, but they have been bred out of a lot of these fruits. Cucurbitacins are highly oxygenated triterpenoid compounds that might cause some sensitivity to some people (I re-iterate - is it really an anti-irritant?) The one found most commonly in cucumbers is cucurbitacin C. It behaves as a very effective anti-inflammatory and analgesic.

So is cucumber extract a good addition to our products? Does it live up to the claims? Yep, it does! Cucumber extract contains some awesome anti-inflammatory and analgesic ingredients, all of which will reduce redness and inflammation, so it can be considered soothing. It contains astringent ingredients, which will make our skin feel tightened after use. And it contains polysaccharides to create a light gel like layer on our skin that keeps water in and offers a lovely feeling of emolliency.

You'll want to use cucumber extract at 0.5% to 1% in the cool down phase of your creations. Add a little warm water to a small container with your extract, let it dissolve, then add at 45˚C or lower (when you add your preservative or fragrance oil).

Before you ask, yes, you can use fresh cucumbers for body care...but stick to using the slices on your eyes after a long night on the town! Including the pulp or seeds or fresh, unpreserved juice in your creations can result in serious contamination, especially if you fail to use preservatives. If you are using fresh cucumber, consider the shelf life to be the same day. Yes, I know places like Lush claim to use it - I don't know how they manage to keep it from going really bad, so you won't be seeing a post on that topic any time soon.

While we're still on the topic of cucumbers, I can't resist including this link for using cucumbers for skin care from the Hints for the Toilet pamphlet!

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with cucumber extract!

13 comments:

Meaue said...

I made an awesome eye cream with cucumber extract. It does everything you said it does. I love the astringency around the eyes - really helps the puffiness and bags. Does make for an ugly color, though....

Li said...

I've been wondering about how Lush do things to. They have massage bars with fresh fruit and no preservative?

Anonymous said...

OK Susan, I have to ask - are those special seeds you use to grow cukes in the shapes of hearts and stars? Are they real cucumbers?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Meaue! The green is one of the reason I use it less than something like green tea. A green facial lotion not that attractive!

Hi Anonymous! I didn't take the picture - I'm a swiper. Bad, Swift!

Hi Li! That's one of the reasons I put that comment. There are one of two possibilities - they are using extracts and calling them fresh, or they have some supersecret way to preserve fresh things!

Sandy said...

"...or they have some supersecret way to preserve fresh things!"

How about that they're most probably lying through their teeth and just haven't been called on it yet? Big time companies won't call them on it because they don't want THEIR products disected (tit for tat thing). Small companies won't call them on it because it's VERY expensive to do so. And gov. agencies like the FDA, Health Canada and whomever for EU, Australia and Japan just don't have the manpower, money or in some cases even the actual authority to pick a product apart and prove they're lying. JMHO

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sandy! I was trying to be diplomatic...and I agree with you. I have heard things about large companies who claim to be preservative free or "all natural" that have serious mould and ick problems. I get really frustrated when I see an anhydrous bar containing fruit - how the heck did you manage that, unless it was "fresh banana oil" for instance. And unless something had to be peeled or mushed up to get in there, in my humble opinion, it's not fresh!

And then you get people who defend not using preservatives by pointing to large companies and stating "well, they don't". Well, they might not, but do a quick search for those companies and see how many people have bought rancid lip balms or mouldy lotions and you'll see that "fresh" or "non-preserved" doesn't work!

BunBun4life said...

hey if I juice some cucumbers is the juice good for your stomach N stuff?? ;o I've heard drinking cucumber juice helps keep your insides 'fresh' haha I dont know how to word what I read, but, you know something along the lines that it cleanses through your bladder, etc., as well, and good for the prostate in males. Would love to hear about that

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi BunBun4Life. This is a cosmetic chemistry blog, not a nutrition blog, so I really don't have any information for you. I can't see any reason not to eat large amounts of cucumber, but that's mainly because it's one of the only vegetables I'll eat. (And yes, I know it's probably a fruit, but it counts as a veggie in my books!)

Jeannine said...

Hi, Susan! Love your blog! Is there a way to incorporate cucumber into an anhydrous formula? I want to make simple eye serum with glycerine, an oil, and cucumber. Thanks in advance!
Jeannine

Jeannine said...

PS - my question is more about the appropriate way to incorporate cucumber as an ingredient, and having the formula be properly preserved. I'm trying to avoid adding a preservative, so I know adding anything with water is a no-go. Is it possible to infuse cucumber powder into an oil, or into glycerine?

Techmonster said...

Jeannine -

From what I understand, Cucumber EXTRACT is strictly water soluble, so it won't blend well with a strictly anhydrous mixture. Susan's advice above was to use Cucumber Seed Oil for anhydrous mixtures, and you'll reap the same bennies as from the extract. Cheapest price for Cuke Seed Oil that I have found is $2.06 per Oz,when purchasing a 16oz container. Found that price over at essentialoilco dot com.

pat bortolin said...

Hi Susan, to let everyone know that SunriseBotanics.com has cucumber peel botanical extract starting at 9.49 100 gr. it's on my list for next order, Voyageur doesn't carry it? Thanks for all your knowledge cheers Pat

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Pat! Voyageur carries it!