Prickly Pear: How this Desert Flower Offers so Much Hydration for your Skin

When thinking of the desert, one of the last things that come to mind is that it is a source of hydration. But skincare’s latest obsession can be found in a quite unexpected place.

The prickly pear cactus, with its broad, palm-like hands and vivid flowers, possesses powers that can transform parched skin to restore its youthful glow with a small dose. When cold pressed and then added to creams and serums, it is hard to argue that the benefits that can be found in this succulent aren’t short of extraordinary!

With around 150 different species to its name, prickly pear (or opticus ficus-indica if you prefer its fancy name) is native to the Americas but grows in Europe, South Africa, and almost anywhere in the world that has an arid or semi-arid landscape. It’s found in abundance in Mexico and the Caribbean where its fruit, petals, and leaves (known as nopales) have been used in local cuisines for generations. In Mexican traditional medicine, the pulp and juice of the prickly pear cactus are also utilized for various purposes including wound healing and to treat digestive inflammation.

And its uses don’t stop there. Prickly pear syrup is a popular ingredient in juices and cocktails for its berry/watermelon-like flavor and natural, antioxidant powers while the tough, thick skin of the cactus’s nopales are often harvested and sold as a vegan-friendly replacement to leather. It can also be used for fuel, animal fodder, and a source for bioplastics. In fact, the uses of the mighty prickly pear cactus go on and on.

Let’s focus on the benefits of prickly pear for your skin.

Prickly pear exists in skincare in two forms: as an oil and as an extract. Prickly pear oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant and is often used in its purest state as a healing, hydrating oil for both the skin and hair. 

Meanwhile, prickly pear extract is made from the pulp of both the fruit and the nopales. The prickly pear cactus is over 80 percent water, and the fruit and nopales are where most of this water is conserved to help the plant survive living in the desert. This means that unlike prickly pear oil, the extract contains all of this hydrating goodness – water, electrolytes and other nutrients – making it one of the most effective ingredients for moisturizing the skin. It’s a very good reason for using it in our Overnight Star Lactic Acid Treatment.

Prickly Pear Contains More Vitamin E Than Argan Oil

If you’re a fan of harnessing the powers of natural ingredients in your beauty products, you’re probably aware of the incredible benefits of argan oil. Argan oil has become a major player in skincare and haircare with benefits ranging from sun protection and wound healing through to wrinkle-reducing and moisturization.

One of argan oil’s biggest selling points is that it’s super-rich in vitamin E. Now, we don’t like to rain on argan oil’s parade because it truly is a fabulous beauty ingredient, but prickly pear contains almost 150 percent more vitamin E that argan oil.

Vitamin E has been formulated into beauty products for decades, and its benefits when applied topically to the skin are endless. Like linoleic acid, it helps strengthen and repair the skin’s protective barrier, and it also has soothing, moisturizing, and healing benefits.

Turns back the clock: There are many ingredients that promise this but few that deliver in the same way that prickly pear does. Perhaps that is why it comes with a higher price tag. Difficult to source and found in limited amounts, the essential oil found in the plant instantly plumps fine lines and protects against free radical damage. With continued use, dark spots diminish and some even say that it eliminates scars. 

Great for your scalp and hair: Going into the cold season means dry, itchy scalp. Packed full of vitamin E, prickly pear serves as a natural conditioner and frizz fighter. With its anti-inflammatory properties, the oil can be placed right on the scalp to soothe dryness and itchiness and reduce flaking. 

Prickly pear also contains linoleic acid, a nourishing agent that is great for dry AND oily skin, making it appealing for all skin types! Who knew that a prickly little cactus could be agreeable to so many things?

If you are considering adding prickly pear to your skincare routine, you should definitely look into Overnight Star, which contains prickly pear in addition to other glow-giving ingredients.

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