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Cool As A Cucumber: The Skincare Brand You NEED to Know About

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at OSU chapter.

Taking care of our skin is one of the most important things we can do, but finding the perfect skincare products can honestly be a hassle. There always seems to be a new product to try, but it comes with the gamble of making our skin worse or not having effective results — it’s an overall daunting process of trial and elimination in which time and money are wasted.

Headshot of Eda and Serra, founders of Cool As A Cucumber brand
Photo by Cool As A Cucumber

Eda and Serra Levent, two sisters based out of New York, know exactly what that’s like. Both struggling with acne throughout their lives, they’ve bought the latest and greatest products, sought help from dermatologists, gone to estheticians, changed their diets and have even tried alternative treatments like acupuncture to obtain healthy and clear skin.

None of these tactics had long-term effects, though, so they finally took matters into their own hands.

From their lived experiences, conducting their own research and personal passion, Eda and Serra Levent have created their own skincare brand with products and reference tools to help young adults obtain the healthy and clear skin we desire.

Becoming Cool As A Cucumber

During COVID-19, everyone was met with a shocking lifestyle change. Serra was working at Tiffany & Co. while Eda was attending business school. With the physical and psychological stresses of this time, the sisters experienced their skin go through horrible breakouts.

“You switch from putting on your face, getting dressed, getting out the door and going to meetings and classes where you’re never looking at your face,” Serra said. “Then you switch to a Zoom world where we’re looking at our faces for eight hours a day, and all I can see are the zits on my face.”

Eda expressed that a battle came with letting her skin be bare and free or putting on a full face of makeup to feel confident and presentable during her Zoom classes. She said it felt weird to put makeup on without leaving the apartment, but she also felt a need to wear it.

Hitting this rock bottom set the foundation for the sisters’ skincare enterprise. Immersing themselves in a journey of deep research, Eda and Serra learned more about acne and skincare than they ever had in their lives.

“We went back to the mid-60s and found a book by this dermatologist who is basically the father of retinol,” Eda said. “He dealt with a lot of acne and was obsessed with finding a solution.”

The biggest takeaway that the sisters had from conducting this research was the realization that they had been tackling skincare by going to isolated pockets of expertise (e.g., going to dermatologists, getting patches and facials, speaking with dieticians). They learned that to effectively combat acne and obtain healthy and clear skin, one must discover the personal triggers of their skin and tackle them all at once.

“The reality is acne’s so complex and multifactorial.”

Serra Levent

“The reality is acne’s so complex and multifactorial,” Serra said. “You have to understand which rocks to turn, find your own triggers and then tackle them all at the same time.”

Once the sisters compiled their research data, they knew the information had to be housed within an accessible brand with effective products, thus the creation of Cool As A Cucumber.

Cool As A Cucumber branding image
Photo by Cool As A Cucumber

The Products

With most products being geared towards teen acne, and younger skin already being more resilient, Cool As A Cucumber is a brand that focuses on adult acne and skincare.

“Acne is kind of thought of as this rite of passage for teenagers, but no one really talks about dealing with acne in your 20s and 30s,” Eda said. “I’m one of the lucky souls dealing with acne and wrinkles at the same time.”

Cool As A Cucumber branding image
Photo by Cool As A Cucumber

The first of the sisters’ products is the Soothe OperatorTM silky gel cleanser. When in use, this cleanser suds a little, but does not produce foam as other products do. This is due to it being sulfate-free, as sulfate is a known acne irritant. As a double threat, this product is strong enough to strip away makeup, SPF and dirt from the day while also being gentle enough not to strip the skin of its essential nutrients. Apple extract is the main ingredient in this product, giving hydration back to the skin. This leaves the skin feeling soft and clean rather than tight and dry.

Cool As A Cucumber branding image
Photo by Cool As A Cucumber

The second product is the Balancing ActTM exfoliating acne treatment serum, which is made up of a salicylic acid and mandelic acid duo. The salicylic acid helps with exfoliation, as it sinks into pores to clear out oil build-up within skin cells, while the mandelic acid helps with hyperpigmentation.

“Once you’re done with active acne, you still have a mark that stays there for months, and you don’t feel like you’ve recovered because you can still see it,” Serra said. “Mandelic acid helps with that.”

Cool As A Cucumber branding image
Photo by Cool As A Cucumber

The third — and brand favorite — product of Cool As A Cucumber is the HydralixirTM quenching gel serum. This is a very light, greenish-yellow gel that has been thoughtfully formulated to hydrate the skin on multiple levels.

“In terms of hydrating, we sat with our group of chemists and talked about what the mechanisms of hydration in the skin are and how we could make a well-rounded product that tackles all those different mechanisms,” Serra said.

The first mechanism tackled was to bring hydration from the outside into the skin. The second was to make sure that the hydration is transferring between cells once it gets into the skin, and the third method was to keep the hydration inside of the skin so it doesn’t evaporate back out.

As a result, HydralixirTM was made with two super ingredients, a multi-hyaluronic acid blend and mango leaf extract. The hyaluronic acid blend is used at four different molecular weights, meaning that it travels to different parts of the skin and pumps in hydration from multiple levels. The mango leaf extract helps with improving the functions of the skin barrier, such as regulating oil production and balancing skin microorganisms.

The mango leaves used to obtain the extract are also sourced with ethical and traceability efforts. They are harvested from Koro, a village in Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa. Only 10% of leaves from these mango trees are collected at eye level once fruiting periods and the wet season are over. This process prevents any disruption to the mango trees’ natural cycles, contributes to preserving local biodiversity and ensures new harvests for the following years.

Testing and inclusivity

When considering how to make effective and safe products for everyone to use, Eda and Serra hold themselves to high ethical standards. During their clinical trials, they incorporate a variety of skin types and perform cruelty-free testing.

“We’re all about safety and efficacy,” Eda said, “so we use ingredients with strong data behind them at clinically proven doses.”

Having an inclusive process not only helps the sisters create great products, it also helps them formulate the “why” behind using and not using certain ingredients at certain levels. For example, melanin-rich skins cannot tolerate all Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) that are used in skincare products, such as glycolic acid.

Eda and Serra have also taken the notion of having clean products into consideration. The sisters said that if there is an ingredient that is so effective for acne and they just had to have it, then they would include it. But as of right now, all of their products are vegan.

These products are also safe for people with sensitive skin and non-acne-prone skin to use, as they do not contain harsh actives, which are ingredients used to strip the skin. Eda and Serra also do not incorporate fragrances or essential oils in any of their products, as they tend to be irritating and inflammatory to the skin.

If you’re worried about how your skin may react, Eda and Serra advise you to start slow by using the Soothe OperatorTM silky gel cleanser and HydralixirTM quenching gel serum. As for the Balancing ActTM exfoliating acne treatment serum, it is recommended that people with more sensitive skin and who are not acne-prone try contact therapy to see how their skin handles it. This consists of putting on the Balancing ActTM treatment as a face mask and leaving it on for ten minutes. Feeling some tingling sensation is okay, but if it lasts longer than ten minutes, then your skin might not need or be ready for that type of product.

For people who do have acne-prone skin, Eda and Serra recommend using Balancing ActTM a couple of times a week and HydralixirTM twice a day.

Method & Mindset

As people who have tackled their own battles with acne and who are so passionate about helping other people find the best products to achieve and maintain healthy and clear skin, Eda and Serra’s skincare brand and products are not like the rest.

The name itself, Cool As A Cucumber, refers to the mindset of having a “cool” perspective that you can tackle even the hardest of things once you take a step back and evaluate the situation and its needs.

“The moment we took a step back, that’s when we got a handle on our skin.”

Serra Levent

“Our skin is crazy and angry and we would always come at it from such a flustered and frustrated place, throwing everything at it, trying to fix it with the wrong mentality,” Serra said. “The moment we took a step back, that’s when we got a handle on our skin.”

Not only do these sisters want you to have the best products, but they also want you to have access to the same information that they uncovered from the very beginning. To stand by this, Eda and Serra have created several tools and resources for everyone to use.

One is called Beneath the Surface: Acne 101, a simple compilation of the research they put together with the help of their medical advisor board. It can be found on their website and has also been made into a booklet that ships out with every customer’s first purchase.

“Once you’re a new customer to the brand, we want to start on the right foot and bring the education to you,” Serra said.

Another tool that they have created is The Skindex: Ingredient Checker. This can be found on their website and is used by copying and pasting the ingredients list for any cosmetic or skincare product that you have or are thinking about purchasing. Once done, click submit and any ingredients that are potential pore cloggers or acne irritants will be highlighted in red.

Providing these connections is a perfect example of working with “acne edge,” a method that Eda and Serra implement for developing everything that Cool As A Cucumber is.

“Unless you’re a brand that’s obsessed with acne and solving for this specific need, you don’t think about formulating like this,” Serra said. “If our products don’t work, there’s no reason for us to exist. We’re here to help people.”

To try these amazing products, utilize these helpful tools and learn more about Eda and Serra, visit their website and use our code OHIOSTATE30 for 30% off your purchase!

Hi! I'm Lauren & I'm a third-year transfer student at Ohio State University. I'm majoring in Agricultural Communication & minoring in Environmental Sciences. I'm passionate about environmentalism and sustainability in all its aspects & look forward to sharing & exploring those issues on this platform!