About prickly pear
One of the exciting ingredients we recently introduced into our certified organic skin care range is prickly pear seed oil. This oil is extracted from the seeds of the cactus Opuntia ficus-india, a plant native to central Mexico which is now cultivated in the Mediterranean basin, the Middle East and North Africa. These imposing plants have long provided a valuable supply of both food and water for humans and animals in the harsh dry deserts they thrive in. All parts of the plant are nutritious, but the fruit is particularly valued, providing abundant vitamins C and E, as well as a range of antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids. It is also reported to have anti-cancer and other protective properties. The deep red-coloured flesh of the fruit contains many tiny seeds, and it is from these seeds that our precious oil is extracted.
Special properties of prickly pear seed oil
Prickly pear seed oil is unusual for its extremely high content of the omega-6 essential fatty acid, linoleic acid, which ranges from 53-70%. Linoleic acid is one of the essential fatty acids that is particularly important for maintaining an effective skin barrier, helping to build the all-important ceramides within the stratum corneum (read more about the importance of this essential fatty acid in our blog here). This extremely high level of linoleic acid makes the oil incredibly light and velvety, so that it sinks rapidly and completely into the skin.
Prickly pear seed oil is also naturally rich in phenolic compounds, potent antioxidants that can prevent free radical damage which causes premature skin ageing. It contains significant quantities of β-sitosterol and campesterol, plant sterols which have anti-inflammatory effects, help maintain the skin’s barrier, and reportedly help repair UV light damage to the skin. Finally the oil contains vitamin K1, which has been used to reduce hyper-pigmentation of the skin. Although the nutritious pigment betalain is found in the fruit, it is water-soluble, and so is not transferred to the oil.
Prickly pear seed oil can be found in our 100% certified organic Rich Face Cream
We have added prickly pear seed oil to our ever popular Rich Face Cream, thereby enriching levels of the omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, phytosterols, antioxidants and vitamin K1 in this highly nutritious cream. Prickly pear seed oil is one of the most expensive carrier oils available, but we couldn’t resist it for the additional nutritional and protective benefits it provides to your skin. Our certified organic, cold-pressed prickly pear seed oil is sourced from plantations in Morocco and Tunisia.
Karym El-Mostafa et al. Molecules (2014) 19: 14879-14901; Nopal Cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) as a Source of Bioactive Compounds for Nutrition, Health and Disease.
Özcan MM and Al Juhaimi FY. International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition. (2011) 62:533-6. Nutritive value and chemical composition of prickly pear seeds (Opuntia ficus indica L.) growing in Turkey.
Elson ML and Nacht S. (1999) Cosmetic Dermatology 12:27–127. Treatment of a periorbital hyperpigmentation with topical vitamin K/vitamin A.