Prickly pear cactus: nature’s skincare wonder
Cactus extract – the new beauty trend for beautiful skin
The prickly pear cactus is more than just a pretty plant – its extract gives the skin an extra boost of moisture. The excellent water retaining properties of this desert dweller make it a great skin care ingredient.
From the desert to the skin
Beauty comes from within – this also applies to the prickly pear cactus. Beneath its tough, spiky exterior, plump, water-storing tissue enables the plant to thrive in the driest climates. Rising temperatures and dwindling water supplies are no problem for the Opuntia ficus-indica. This desert dweller has adapted to extreme conditions. A true survival artist, it can withstand extended periods of drought and sun exposure. The secret? The prickly pear cactus can store water. Thanks to its extensive root system, this resilient plant quickly absorbs large amounts of water after rainfall, storing it in its paddlelike stempads, called cladodes. With its thick, green shoots and juicy flesh, Opuntia cacti are the exact opposite of their dry environment.
Prickly miracle plant from Mexico
10 facts about the prickly pear cactus:
- The prickly pear or nopal cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) is a species in the Opuntia genus of the Cactaceae family.
- It grows as a shrub or small tree with paddle-shaped stem segments, called cladodes, which are covered with protective spines.
- This typically branched cactus species is thought to have originated in Mexico.
- The Aztecs worshipped it as a divine plant. An alcoholic beverage was made from its fruit for religious ceremonies.
- Growing up to altitudes of 4,700 metres, it is cultivated mainly in Mexico, Africa and the Mediterranean region.
- Opuntia is an important agricultural crop. The pads are often prepared like cucumbers and eaten cooked vegetable dish or raw in salad.
- The aromatic fruits are also harvested for food. The oval, fig-shaped fruit is orange-red in colour when ripe.
- In spring and summer, large, bright yellow flowers emerge at the edge of the oblong, flat stem pads.
- The fruits develop once the plant has flowered. Because the fruits draw nutrients from the stempads, the pads are harvested before flowering.
- If they fall to the ground, the stempads, flowers and fruit can all develop roots and grow into a new plant.
Moisture boost for the skin
Under its tough exterior, the prickly pear cactus is full of nourishing ingredients. The properties of this natural, moisture-retaining wonder are also beneficial to the skin, making it an effective ingredient in skincare products. Prickly pear extract is derived from the fleshy stems, which consist mainly of mucilage. It has hydrating properties and supports the skin’s natural ability to store moisture. It also works to sooth the skin and strengthen the skin’s natural function as a protective barrier.