All Ingredients: Opuntia Ficus Indica (Prickly Pear) Seed Oil
Incidecoder Rating: Goodie
EWG Rating: 1 (Best)
PETA Rating: Cruelty Free & Vegan
Origin: Cold pressed from prickly pear seeds, sustainably grown in Morocco.
The emollient plant oil coming from the seeds of the cactus commonly called Prickly Pear or Nopal Fig. Prickly pear is native to Mexico. It has large, sweet fruit that’s called tunas and has been used as a source of food since pre-Hispanic Mexico. Currently jams and jellies are produced from it and also a traditional Mexican alcoholic drink called colonche.
About 18–20% of the peeled fruits are seeds, and the seeds contain only about 3-5% oil. This means that the oil is rare and expensive as a ton of fruit (and it is literally a ton) is needed to yield 1 liter of it.
As for its composition, its three main fatty acids are barrier-repairing linoleic (60-70%), nourishing oleic (9-26%), and saturated fatty acid, palmitic (8-18%). It is also rich in antioxidant vitamin E (110mg/100g) and in anti-inflammatory sterols (beta-sitosterol, campesterol). As a high-linoleic oil, it has a light skin feeling, absorbs easily into the top layer of the skin and gives a velvety skin feel.
But what is it doing in our skincare products?
Well, according to swiss manufacturer, Mibelle its two main properties are that it soothes and hydrates the skin. And what’s more, they have also created some nice test results both in vitro and in vivo (in the lab tubes and on humans) showing that Opuntia Ficus-Indica can protect skin cells against UV light.
And that’s still not all. An American manufacturer has combined the ingredient with yeast extract and the two together helps to reduce neurosensory irritation caused by the application of topical products such as retinoids (slow reaction), alpha hydroxy acids (fast reaction) or preservatives which induce some type of irritation or inflammation. It is also well-known for its soothing and hydrating properties.
The bottom line: though we could not really find a trove of independently published research, we think that Prickly Pear’s name sounds cool and it’s a very promising ingredient that seems to have great soothing and protecting abilities.
- International Journal for Applied Science, 2005-11, Soothing Factor from Opuntia Cactus for Sensitive Skin
- Ramadan, Mohamed Fawzy, and Jörg-Thomas Mörsel. "Oil cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica L.)." Food chemistry 82.3 (2003): 339-345.
- Ennouri, Monia, et al. "Fatty acid composition and rheological behaviour of prickly pear seed oils." Food Chemistry 93.3 (2005): 431-437.