Why Your Skin Needs This Weird Ingredient

By Catherine Q. O’Neill

It’s hot pink and juicy, and it makes for one photogenic margarita. But prickly pear—which contains amino acids, vitamin B, calcium, beta-carotene, magnesium, and iron—is just as good slathered on your skin as it is ingested. That’s probably why it’s been making an appearance in so many skin-care products. Here’s how to make the most of this ingredient, whether you’re going the DIY route or using the bottled stuff.

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"People in the Israeli desert mix it with water to create a salve for windburn," says dermatologist Jeannette Graf. And now skin-care companies are adding it to serums, oils, and masks. “The fruit reduces inflammation, and anything that is anti-inflammatory is also anti-aging because inflammation is the first event that occurs in aging,” says Graf.

If you decide to DIY, carve the fruit from its spiky shell and squeeze the juice from the center. Dilute the juice with equal parts water or aloe, since it can be irritating if applied directly to the skin at full strength, says Graf. Smooth it on your face or body and watch as redness fades away.

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You can also find the ingredient in store-bought products: Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Serum, Erno Laszlo Hydra-Therapy Sleep Mask, Kahina Prickly Pear Seed Oil, and Caudalie Premier Cru The Elixir all contain prickly pear. If you’re using one of these products, you can apply it to clean, dry skin; the stabilized formulas will soothe your skin, not inflame it.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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