December 06, 2018

How to reap skin-beneficial nutrients from nopal and other cacti

Cactus-based products are our latest obsession, thanks to their ultra hydrating benefits, gorgeous floral scents, and skin healing vitamin content. More and more, cactus-derived ingredients are starring in skincare formulas, from cactus flower extract to prickly pear oil: in all of their varieties, cacti are a great boost to vegan beauty formulas.

Cacti Main What Are Cacti?

A cactus is defined as any succulent plant of the Cactaceae family, marked by stems, branches, scales, and spines instead of leaves. Cacti are naturally found to grow in dry, arid regions, which is why they’re so efficient at retaining water within their fleshy stems and scales. Cacti often display vibrant solitary flowers, making them truly a sight to behold against dry, barren landscapes.

When you think of cacti, the first thing that probably pops into your head is a desert, right? It’s true that cacti are native to ultra dry and arid environments, meaning that they are able to survive through their remarkable water retention and humectant properties. What this means for you? That when applied topically to the skin, they are designed by nature to help your pores retain water, and resist evaporation and drying out. So if your skin is like a desert, cactus might be your best friend.

Types of Beneficial Cacti for Skin

There are several varieties of cacti, each of which has a slightly different set of properties!

Prickly Pear

One of our favorites at Puristry is prickly pear, a small rose-hued fruit in the cactus family. In addition to being chalk full of fiber and H20, prickly pear is regarded as an excellent cure for a hangover, and also renowned for its incredibly high Vitamin E content. In fact, the oil derived from the prickly pear fruit contains more Vitamin E than any other oil used for cosmetic purposes. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, meaning that it’s effective at combating the damage caused by free radicals on your skin (produced by toxins in the environment and UV rays). This makes prickly pear an excellent ingredient to use for mature skin, or skin that has been exposed to a great deal of sun. It also contains a high percentage of Vitamin C, a crucial vitamin for keeping skin bright and encouraging the renewal of skin cells, to reveal healthy and smooth skin. Plus essential fatty acids, which are the essential building blocks of your skin's surface layer, help to generate a smoother, more even looking, and younger-looking complexion. Over all, prickly pear is an effective plant-based cure for calming external stressors that cause damage and irritation in the skin–we’ve included it in our skin-loving Nopal Cactus Cleanser Formula, an extra gentle product that can be used everyday, which also includes (you guessed it) Nopal Cactus!


It’s another one of our favorite gems in the cactus family is nopal cactus, and also ultra effective when it comes to anti-aging. Nopal is notably rich in Belatin, a pigment that endows the plant with its vibrant red hue. Belatin contains a high level of antioxidants and has been shown to be anti-cancerous, super bio-available, and anti-inflammatory. Nopal cactus also contains riboflavin, which aids in tissue repair and is an important B vitamin for retaining moisture in the skin–for anyone suffering from dermatitis or eczema, riboflavin is key. Polysaccharides present in the plant allow your skin to absorb and retain H20, meaning that the presence of nopal cactus in a cleanser allows the formula to act as a hydrant and humectant, locking water into your pores and helping to prevent hydration loss over time. Because of this, nopal cactus is the star ingredient in our Nopal Cactus Cleanser formula, which simultaneously removes dullness and debris, while endowing skin with light moisture and hydration.

Cactus seed oil is another ingredient you may be seeing in new plant based organic beauty formulas recently. It’s a fantastic and powerful oil to use on a variety of skin types, and can be mixed with a gentle carrier oil like coconut or jojoba for a super healing PM oil treatment. Because it’s incredibly light and absorbs well, cactus oil is a great little product to take on the go to use for chapping or flaking skin in the winter. The high levels of linoleic acid (a fatty acid that stimulates skin cell production and turnover) will help you beat dryness and flaking, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids will keep your complexion smooth and even-toned. As an on-the-go dry patch spot treatment or a deeper PM mask, cactus seed oil is starting to eclipse the more buzzed about argan oil, and is a seriously powerful skin booster with properties that make it ideal for battling winter skin woes.


Finally, the word we’ve all heard in diet conversation abouts sugar (more specifically, about NO sugar diets) – agave. Agave is a succulent plant with tall spiky flowers, which contains a beautifully sweet amber nectar. It became popular in the 2000s as a sugar replacement because of its lower glycemic index. While the question of whether or not agave is better of worse for you than sugar is up for debate, what’s been confirmed is the host of nutrients and vitamins present in the plant, and its benefits when applied topically. Agave nectar is rich in glycolic acid, a plant sugar the penetrates skin quickly and can break up debris and sebum in clogged pores – meaning that it’s a great natural ingredient for treating live blemishes and blackheads. Try incorporating agave into a DIY face mask: mix agave with an essential oil of your choice and ground oats (for exfoliation) and apply for 15-20 minutes. When you rinse the mixture off, your skin will be glowy, soft, and with reduced pores.

So whether you're dealing with mature skin, acne, or extreme winter dryness, cacti are an amazing plant-based source of goodness for skin - definitely a new staple worth adding to your organic skin care routine!

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