It's great for both dry and mature skin types.
We're always hearing of new, buzzy ingredients taking over the skincare space. Take CBD, encapsulated retinol, and white truffle, i.e. just some of the few that recently increased in popularity and have become the topic of many industry experts' conversations.
An under-the-radar ingredient that we rarely hear about and deserves its moment in the limelight, though, is prickly pear. While you may not have heard about it, prickly pear oil and its extracts are in a wide range of skincare and haircare ingredients for their moisturizing and anti-aging benefits.
What is Prickly Pear Oil?
Prickly pear is derived from a cactus plant, also called nopal or opuntia. They're native to the Americas and are used as food as well as an ingredient in cosmetic products.
Prickly Pear Oil Benefits for Skin
"Prickly pear seed oil is rich in essential fatty acids, omega-6 and -9, as well as vitamin E, a potent antioxidant," says Hadley King, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist. "The oil offers antioxidant protection from free radicals and has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties." When the skin is left unprotected against free radicals, oxidative stress occurs, which can cause chronic inflammation and breakdown of skin cellular functions, like the production of collagen.
In addition to protection against radical damage, Dr. King says prickly pear oil contains amino acids, which also help stimulate collagen production and promote faster cellular turnover. "And it contains vitamin K, which contributes to skin elasticity, and some believe it may help brighten under-eye circles," she says.
On top of the many anti-aging benefits, prickly pear is very moisturizing and supports the skin barrier. "It softens the skin and gives a luminous glow," says Dr. King. The best part of this ingredient is it's generally suitable for all skin types, especially dry, sensitive, and mature ones.
Where to Find Prickly Pear Oil
The most common way to find prickly pear oil is in other face oils. "You can apply twice daily to cleansed skin," says Dr. King. "Apply several drops to palms and press into the face." (Expert tip: Any of the remaining oils on your hands can be applied throughout the ends of your hair to moisturize.)
And don't worry—according to Dr. King, there aren't properties that deactivate prickly pear. "It works well with retinol or vitamin C, which might otherwise irritate the face," she says.
A face oil with prickly pear oil to try is Carter+Jane The Everything Oil ($128; carterandjane.com), which contains cold-pressed organic prickly pear seed oil, avocado oil, almond oil, and aloe vera to moisturize and soothe the skin. "The ingredients work together to brighten the skin by offering antioxidant protection, anti-inflammatory properties, increased cell turnover, hydration, and increased collagen production," says Dr. King.
And if you aren't a fan of oils, try Tata Harper Clarifying Blemish & Oil Control Cleanser ($76; sephora.com), which infuses prickly pear flower enzymes in its formula to encourage cell renewal and exfoliate without drying out the skin.
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