Sweet Prickly Pear | Opuntia Ficus Indica
The prickly pear cactus is one exotic beauty, as it stands 5m tall, pads stretched out with beautiful flowers looking like coloured nail-beds atop it’s fruit. A truly giving phenomenon, it is fully edible, from the succulent (as a vegetable and medicine) to the flower (as an herbal tea), to the fruit (used in baking, in jellies, etc). We can’t help but view it as the perfect analogy to the ultimate mother - providing to it’s very core.
To be honest, it actually took us a while to consider using Prickly Pear Seed oil as one of the core ingredients in our Base Oils. It doesn’t come cheap and increased the cost of our product two-fold. In fact, one TON of the seeds found in the fruit of the prickly pear cactus is required to produce just one precious liter of oil. However, the more research that went into it, the more we came to realize that adding Prickly Pear Seed oil meant:
- we were using a much more sustainable alternative (the plant itself is hardy, invasive, self-propagating and grows best with no maintenance or water at all), which aligns with our zero-waste ethos perfectly, and
- our customers would receive a much more effective product, as the constituents found in the oil are quite powerful (for instance, it has more than 150% more Vitamin E than Argan Oil).
When you pop off the fruit, remove the prickly parts on the fruit's skin, and cut it open, you are presented with a fleshy cavity of about 200 seeds swimming in bright, beet-colored magenta juice. Within these seeds lie a concentrated source of vitamins and essential fatty acids, which is the main source of its applications in skincare.
Aside from Vitamin E, it also contains many essential fatty acids (EFA’s), highest of which is linoleic acid (65%) - known for its healing, anti-inflammatory, acne reductive, skin-lightening and moisture retentive properties. The oleic portion of the profile allows the oil to rapidly sink into the skin and bring other important nutrients (from your favorite Remedy Oil for example) along with it. And lastly, the palmitic acid, a healing acid found naturally in our skin (although decreasing with age), is an antioxidant and effective in healing the skin, even treating dermatitis and eczema.
A few other notable nutrients present in prickly pear seed oil are potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C, many of which have powerful antioxidant capabilities and contribute to its anti-aging properties.
Sweet Prickly Pear Seed oil is prized as
- Being non-comedogenic
- Keeping skin soft and supple
- Preventing fine lines and dryness
- Brightening the complexion
- Strengthening hair and nails
- Smoothing and refining skin texture
- Tightening pores
- Reducing inflammation
- Calming redness or sunburn
- Restoring elasticity
- Boosting collagen
- Reducing appearance of dark spots and circles
For an easier way to remember: how the plant operates in the desert - regenerative and full of nutrients and moisture - is seemingly almost a natural indication for how the oil nourishes your skin. We find that nature often teaches in metaphor and allegory, and are no longer surprised when the science aligns. Because the chemical makeup and atom expression is, quite simply, so beautifully reflected in the larger organism.
Our Dermis Base Oils are infused with a potent dose of organic, cold pressed, Prickly Pear Seed oil from Morocco, blended with squalane to help stabilize the skin and aid in faster absorption, as well as a few other skin-specific oils to help with dryness or oiliness, and create an overall more balanced nutrient profile.
The prickly pear is one of nature’s most ancient medicines, which Aztecs considered to be a sacred fruit, and traditional Mexican kitchens used the fruit for a “colonoche” wine, treating burns, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Prickly pear has been shown to contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, anti-ulcerogenic, anticancer, hypoglycaemic, anti-infective, anti-diarrheal, diuretic and anti-rheumatic properties. It has been shown to be useful for:
- Fighting viruses and infections
- Helping to treat wounds and burns
- Treating diarrhea
- Warding o diabetes, cardiovascular disease, prostate disease and other inflammatory diseases
- Relieving gastric ulcers
- Reducing pain
- Stopping bleeding
COST AND SUSTAINABILITY
Because the amount of seeds required to press the oil is so labor intensive, the oil is one of the most precious and expensive. But as we mentioned earlier, the plant itself is incredibly sustainable, needing very little water to grow and propagate.
As of 2019, vegan ‘leather’ is being produced from the cactus as a low water-consumption, low impact and non-toxic (leather) alternative.
Indigenous to Mexico and now native to Morocco and the Mediterrainian, prickly pear is also found and farmed in Australia and Africa. Today this generous, fruit bearing cactus is being studied for its further potential as a source of water, nutrients and agricultural commodity in drought stricken and desertified regions.
To harness this natural beauty secret and its healing, hydrating and smoothing powers, select from our Dermis Base Oils, specifically paired with other nourishing oils for each skin type.