The Benefits Of Prickly Pear Seed Oil For Skin and Hair

The beautiful almost alien-like prickly pear fruit crowning cactus paddles are like rare gems.

To the desert-bound wanderer, they are like a gift from God, filled with succulent and sweet hydrating juices.

Today, they are touted as a superfood, filled with potent vitamins.

In fact, one serving of prickly pear fruit contains up to 24% of the daily recommended vitamin C intake alongside high doses of nutritional copper, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

What’s more, they are achieving savior-status among skincare gurus as well!

Prickly pear, also known as fig opuntia, nopak, or barbary fig, is the most widespread and commercially grown cactus species globally.

It’s a culinary treasure praised for its sweet, juicy, fuschia-colored flesh.

Though they have been eaten and used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years, they are now considered a superfood and even a super skincare product.

Prickly pear oil, a concentrated botanical oil derived from the seeds of this cactus, contains triple the vitamin E than argan oil among other allstar ingredients.

Prickly pear oil, a concentrated botanical oil derived from the seeds of this cactus, contains triple the vitamin E than argan oil among other allstar ingredients.

This gentle oil is suitable for all skin types and boasts a number of impressive benefits.

Though research on prickly pear oil is still underway, preliminary studies show that this natural ingredient may be what’s missing from your skincare regimen.

Here’s everything you need to know!

Is Prickly Pear Seed Oil the Perfect Pairing to Your Skincare Regimen?

How was prickly pear used in the past?

Nearly every part of the prickly pear plant can be used.

It’s quite a versatile plant!

Prickly pear is native to North Americas and has long been a valued ingredient in Mexican and Southwestern cuisines.

The cactus resin can be used to stiffen clothes.

The flowers are made into essential oils and sweet-smelling perfumes.

It’s a natural dye that can be used in food products and natural fibers alike.

The seeds (as we’ll find out more below) can be made into an oil and used on the skin for a number of benefits.

Not only that, it has many medicinal properties as well.

Historically, on top of being a food source, Native Americans used prickly pear juice to treat burns and whooping cough and manage asthma.

It was also applied to the skin to decrease inflammation from bug bites and other injuries.

After being introduced to China, it was used to dress abscesses.

In Mexican folk medicine, it’s used to treat diabetes.

The fruit, the stems, and even the flowers are used to treat high cholesterol, abdominal pain, high blood pressure, ulcers, fatigue, glaucoma, liver conditions, and even indigestion.

All of that, from one unsuspecting cactus!

From a culinary standpoint, both the green paddles and the “pears” or fruit that crowns each one can be used in the kitchen.

Once you slice into the fruit and extract the jelly-like innards (think aloe vera), they can be used to make jams and jellies, teas, candies, and can even be made into a syrup that adds a dash of vibrance and sweetness to your favorite cocktails or mocktails.

You might see it on the menu at a local smoothie shop or juicery or incorporated into savory dishes on the menus of Mexican and Central American restaurants.

If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re missing out!

Is Prickly Pear Seed Oil the Perfect Pairing to Your Skincare Regimen?

What are the benefits of prickly pear seed oil?

True to the versatility and resiliency of this plant and the native people who realized all of its amazing benefits, the seeds are an amazing source of beautifying ingredients.

Though it may seem like a specialty essential oil, prickly pear seed oil is similar to a carrier oil or serum.

It naturally contains many of the most highly sought-after ingredients such as vitamin E, vitamin K, amino acids, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids.

Some recent studies have shown that applying prickly pear oil directly to the skin resulted in the following benefits:

Prevent Skin Damage:

Prickly pear seed oil contains high levels of antioxidants which may help to prevent skin damage caused by free radicals.

For this reason, skincare products with antioxidants are a staple of anti-aging routines!

Reduce Breakouts:

Prickly pear seed oil has also been shown to have antibacterial properties, suggesting that it may help to reduce breakouts by eliminating acne-causing bacteria.

I bet you didn’t expect that from an oil-based product, did you?!

Assists the Absorption of Other Vitamins:

A study found that mixing prickly pear seed oil with vitamin A helped to decrease the molecular weight of vitamin A, thus increasing topical absorption.

Basically, the high-fat content of the prickly pear seed oil helps to deliver vitamin A and potentially other vitamins into the skin.

Boosts Skin Hydration:

Studies have revealed that prickly pear oil contains a high content of linoleic acid, a fatty acid found in many fruits and vegetables.

Specifically, prickly pear seed oil contains high amounts of omega-6 and -9 acids.

Linoleic acid supports the skin barrier and contributes to a healthy, glowing complexion.

It’s friendly for all skin types and has exfoliating and anti-aging properties as well!

This all suggests that prickly pear seed oil can help the skin to remain hydrated and healthy by boosting its water-retaining abilities.

Fade under-eye bags:

Thanks to its impressive vitamin K content, prickly pear seed oil may be able to brighten up stubborn under-eye bags and restore your skin’s natural glow!

Vitamin K carries pigment out of the skin and tightens blood vessels to stop traveling spider veins and more.

Stimulate collagen production:

Thanks to amino acids, once absorbed by the skin, prickly pear seed oil may be able to stimulate your skin’s natural collagen production.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and it provides strength and volume to the skin and connective tissues throughout the body.

As collagen levels decline with age, this is what causes the skin to sag and form fine lines and wrinkles.

So, whether you have mature skin that needs a little firming up or you’re building a preventative anti-aging skincare regimen, this collagen-stimulating product is a winner!

Who should use it?

Prickly pear seed oil is wonderful and considered safe for all skin types.

Individuals with mature or dry skin may reap the greatest benefits of this versatile natural product due to its hydrating and collagen-stimulating abilities.

The oil is most often incorporated into serums and moisturizers.

What are the downsides?

Despite its prevalence as one of the most commonly grown cactus varieties, prickly pear seed oil does come with a hefty price tag.

Since the oil is derived solely from the seeds of the prickly pear cactus, extraction is time-consuming and requires an abundance of fruits.

Each fruit contains 150-300 seeds each on average yet they only contain about 5% oil.

Per MŪN Skin Care (a skincare line that specializes in prickly pear seed oil products) it takes an entire ton of prickly pear fruits to produce just 1 liter of oil.

Luckily, because it relies on so little water and nutrients to grow, prickly pear seed oil is a much more sustainable option than other vitamin E rich oils such as Argan oil.

In terms of side effects, some research has revealed that when ingested it can cause problems like indigestion and bloating.

When applied topically, however, prickly pear oil is generally considered safe on all skin types.

The only potential risk is if you have an allergy to the fruit.

If your skin tends to be on the sensitive side or if you are known to have allergies, consider doing a patch test before applying to the face or large area of the body.

Apply a small amount of the oil to your wrist and take note of any negative reactions such as redness, inflammation, or itching for 24 hours.

Other health benefits of prickly pear seed oil

Clearly, prickly pear is not just great for skin.

Unfortunately, if you come across a fruit, you probably won’t be able to use it in your skincare routine.

However, if you are tempted to pick one of these brightly colored fruits up during your next stop at the grocery store, you can still get great use out of it!

Lately, prickly pear has been touted as a superfood.

Here are some additional health benefits that come from ingesting this sweet fruit:

Boost immunity:

Due to its high antioxidant content, consuming prickly pear fruit may be able to boost immunity!

According to a 2004 study, consumption of prickly pear fruit may reduce oxidative damage and improve antioxidant status.

Aid in digestion:

Though prickly pear fruit has been used for centuries to ease digestion, recent studies have come out to support that!

Prickly pear fruit is high in dietary fiber and thus may help to eliminate constipation, bloating, and even ulcers.

Support heart health:

Prickly pear fruit also contains many heart-healthy ingredients!

With up to 220mg of potassium per 100g of fruit, prickly pear fruit may help to reduce blood pressure and reduce stress on the cardiovascular system.

Its fiber may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

It’s no secret – your body wants lots of fruits and veggies and prickly pear fruit is an absolute treat!

Reduce inflammation:

Prickly pear fruit has been used for centuries to decrease inflammation when applied topically and consumed.

A study conducted by Seoul National University confirmed this, showing that topical application decreased the swelling of bug bites.

When consumed, its antioxidant properties may help to decrease inflammation throughout the body by suppressing oxidative stress and free radical damage.

Substitutes to Prickly Pear Seed Oil

Prickly pear seed oil can be found in health food stores and among the products of some specialty natural skincare lines.

However, it has yet to permeate popular skincare lines mostly due to its price point.

If you’re not ready to splurge on a new product or risk having another rarely-used product take up real estate in your medicine cabinet, that’s okay!

The active ingredients in this natural oil can also be found in more readily available and affordable products too.

Here are some of our favorites:

Is Prickly Pear Seed Oil the Perfect Pairing to Your Skincare Regimen?

For anti-aging:

Looking to stop wrinkles before they have the chance to form?

We’ve got the right products for you!

Image SkinCare Ormedic Balancing Antioxidant Serum:

This botanical-powered serum uses organic Japanese green tea, aloe, and a potent blend of peptides to stimulate collagen production and cell regeneration.

It’s a great product to maintain fresh, healthy, young skin 24/7.

Glymed Plus Amino Acid Treatment Serum with PC-10:

Similar to the amino acid content of prickly pear seed oil, this powerful yet ultra-light serum contains a proprietary amino acid complex that is clinically proven to diminish fine lines and wrinkles by boosting cellular production of collagen.

For hydration:

Struggling with dull and dry skin?

Mimic prickly pear’s hydrating abilities by choosing a product with linolenic acid!

Rhonda Allison Drop Of Essence:

This fan-favorite omega-6 filled moisturizer contains omega-6 EFA (Linoleic and Oleic Acid), Tocopherol (D-Alpha), and Essential Oils of Geranium and Lavender to soothe tired, dry skin and boost hydration by supporting the skin barrier.

Alana Mitchell Foaming Pumpkin Cleanser:

Similar to prickly pear seed oil, pumpkin seed oil is a natural source of omega-3 and omega-6, which refines your pores while hydrating and brightening your skin.

This versatile product is non-irritating and helps to slow down the signs of aging thanks to essential fatty acids.

It penetrates the skin’s barrier to increase hydration and boost your skin’s water retention, leaving behind a delicate pumpkin scent you’ll love!

For acne-prone skin:

You don’t need prickly pear seed oil to combat acne-causing “bad” bacteria!

Try these natural antibacterial ingredients!

Alana Mitchell Clean & Gentle Natural Gel Cleanser:

With organic ingredients like aloe and rosehip oil, this gentle formula soothes and leaves your skin clean, balanced and radiant without a pimple in sight!

PCA Skin pHaze 31 BPO 5% Cleanser:

This effective cleanser is formulated with 5% benzoyl peroxide for anti-acne antibacterial properties plus vitamin E, aloe, chamomile, and other soothing botanical ingredients.

It’s the next best thing to prickly pear seed oil!

For under eyes:

Need a vitamin K boost to brighten up your eyes and leave you glowing?

If you don’t have prickly pear seed oil handy, you can try these gentle botanical-based treatments instead.

Ling Skincare Vitamin K:

Vitamin K is renowned for its super hydrating powers that leave your skin nourished than ever before.

This multipurpose cream can be applied to your entire face or targeted on the under-eye skin to improve the appearance of the dark circles.

Hale Cosmeceuticals Profile K Milk Lotion:

Profile K Milk Lotion shrinks small veins and capillaries near the skin’s surface while simultaneously strengthening them.

Just like prickly pear seed oil, the vitamin K, green tea, and aloe in this formulation simultaneously brightens skin (especially under the eyes) and provides antioxidants to protect the skin from future damage.

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