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!