The Top 4 Prickly Pear Benefits for Skin








Reference Lab

AUG 16, 2022



Good things are often found in the most unlikely of places, and the benefits of prickly pears are just another set to add to the list. Recent research has shown that the use and consumption of prickly pears have many positive effects on skin and overall health, ranging from smoothing out skin to having an anti-oxidative effect on the body.

What is prickly pear extract?

If you live around the deserts in the American South-West, you have likely seen flat, fan-shaped cacti with striking purple fruits on the side of the road. This genus of cactus, Opuntia, encompasses a few different varieties. However, they are all colloquially referred to as the prickly pear or nopales. The most commonly used is Opuntia ficus indica, which contains the most significant amount of beneficial compounds. To then concentrate these nutrients into a usable medium, the seeds and fruit can be used to create an extract or oil.

Are prickly pear and cactus oil the same?

Yes! Prickly pear and cactus oil are the same oil. Prickly pear oil is simply a more specific way of referring to where this essential oil was derived from, because while the plant is a cactus, the oil originates from the cactus fruit. As a result, when searching for topical skin care products, like a fragrance-free body lotion or a peptide moisturizer, containing prickly pear seed oil, you should also keep your eye out for cactus oil.

What are the benefits of prickly pear extract for your skin?

There are numerous benefits that prickly pear extract can deliver to your skin, mainly because it’s packed full of vitamin E and vitamin K, linoleic, oleic, and palmitic fatty acids, and finally, a suite of phenolic compounds. Through these nutrients, prickly pear extract, one of the best antioxidants for skin, promotes skin health extends skin span through the following benefits:


Skin Hydration and Smoothing

The fatty acids (linoleic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid) found in prickly pear extract can replenish the beneficial oils that naturally dry up in one’s skin with age1


Healthy Aging

Vitamins E and K have skin-softening properties, allowing them to aid in smoothing out and preventing the development of wrinkles associated with aging2.


Even Skin Tone

Experiencing uneven skin tone on your body or face? Certain phenolic compounds, such as the ones found in prickly pears, have been found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, which, when applied to hyperpigmentation, swelling, irritation, or blemishes, can cause them to fade3.


Prevention and Repair of UV Damage

The phenolic compounds in prickly pears also have the effect of shielding the skin from UV rays and reducing the adverse effects of overexposure to UV4

Does prickly pear oil have the power to improve skin longevity?

Much like Argan oil can improve skin health through its hydrating properties and essential fatty acids, so too can prickly pear oil. Prickly pear oil, however, has a higher concentration of fatty acids and vitamins E and K, leading to smoother skin with fewer wrinkles and lines compared to the other staple skincare oils5. By maintaining well-hydrated skin and skin elasticity with prickly pear oil, you can experience healthy skin aging and improved skin span.
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Can all skin types benefit from prickly pear oil?

All skin types can benefit from the many nutrients found within prickly pear oil, though those with drier skin may find more use in prickly pear oil due to its hydrating properties. Also, anyone with acne-prone or sensitive skin will find plenty of use from prickly pear oil’s ability to soothe skin. Particularly, as acne-prone skin tends to break out due to a deficiency in linoleic acid in the skin barrier, the linoleic acid found in prickly pear oil can help alleviate inflammation and breakouts. While adverse reactions to prickly pear cactus extract are uncommon, with all new ingredients and products, it is recommended to do a patch test on a small area of the skin to see if any complications arise6.

Why is prickly pear extract incorporated into skin care products?

Not only does Prickly Pear extract work well with most products and skin types, but it is also easily sourced, natural, and sustainable. This makes it an obvious choice for many sustainable and safe skin care products that are intended to be soothing and non-irritating to the skin.


What does prickly pear oil work well with?

rickly pear oil makes an excellent complement to skin care products that may potentially irritate the skin, such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or retinoids (vitamin A)7. This is due to the soothing properties of prickly pear oil, which could minimize the irritation caused by these compounds. Additionally, prickly pear oil does not interfere with the efficacy of other products and can therefore be used in conjunction with the rest of your skin care routine8.


How can prickly pear oil be used in your skin care regimen?

If you are constantly looking for ways for how to boost skin moisture, it’s important to note that prickly pear extract is commonly used as a moisturizing agent for dry skin, so it’s only natural that you’ll find it used in serums, face oils, and moisturizers aimed at softening your skin. Beyond that, however, it can also be found in toners and cleansers as it balances out the drying side effects usually associated with those products. Finally, if you are dealing with a skin irritant like vitamin C or vitamin A, by mixing it with prickly pear oil, you can reduce potential irritation and boost your skin’s uptake of these vitamins9.

How OneSkin uses prickly pear extract

Due to prickly pear oil’s soothing, anti-aging, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits, we don’t expect it to lose popularity in the skin care industry any time soon, and for good reason. Whether you want to prevent wrinkles and fine lines, protect and recover from UV damage, or simply hydrate your skin, there are few better supporting ingredients than prickly pear extract. That’s why we chose prickly pear extract in PREP, our daily face cleanser designed to gently exfoliate, hydrate, and protect your skin barrier by complementing various scientifically validated and ethically sourced ingredients.

Key Takeaways

  • When used as part of a skin care routine, prickly pear oil can aid in smoothing, hydrating, and softening your skin due to the essential fatty acid compounds and vitamins found within.
  • Prickly pear oil can reduce skin blemishes and the adverse effects of sun exposure as a result of the anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of its phenolic compounds.
  • Prickly pear oil contains even greater concentrations of fatty acids and vitamins than other common skin oils, including Argan oil.
  • Prickly pear oil can benefit all skin types but particularly people with dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin.
  • Prickly pear oil can reduce inflammation and irritation caused by other ingredients in your skin care routine.
  • Prickly pear oil's exfoliating and soothing ability makes it a great supplemental ingredient for cleansers and other skin care products.
Sources:

  1. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21391790/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23561175/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33312336/
  5. https://www.byrdie.com/prickly-pear-oil-benefits
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/about-prickly-pear-seed-oil#benefits
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673383/
  8. https://www.vogue.com/article/prickly-pear
  9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jocd.12891

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

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