Prickly Pear Seed Oil ( Opuntia Ficus Seed Oil Or Barbary Fig Seed Oil )
What is Prickly Pear?
Prickly pear seed oil—a moisturizing, soothing oil derived from the prickly pear cactus—is quickly gaining momentum in the skin care world, and for good reason. At once gentle, healing, and protecting, this oil has been used for centuries to treat everything from burns to illnesses. Extremely Rich in vitamin E and brimming with antioxidants, prickly pear seed oil is one of the most powerful, luxurious skin care ingredients on the market.
What is prickly pear seed oil, anyway?
Also referred to as barbary fig oil or indian fig oil, prickly pear seed oil comes from the beautiful prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica, in Latin), a member of the cactus family. The plant is comprised of pads, seeds, flowers (usually yellow, red, or purple), trunks, and, of course, the fruit. Like other cactuses, they have also have prickles. Prickly pear cactuses can reach anywhere from 1 foot to 6-7 feet in height.
Where and how is prickly pear seed oil sourced?
While the prickly pear is native to parts of the United States, Mexico, and South America, and also flourishes in Africa, Australia, and the Mediterranean, the best prickly pear seed oil for skin care is sourced from Morocco. (We get ours from the same local women-run cooperative that provides us with our argan oil). To procure the precious oil, the seeds are typically extracted by hand and then run through complex machinery specifically designed for this purpose.
How has prickly pear been used historically?
Used for healing and culinary purposes for centuries, the Prickly Pear's Versitality is truly extraordinary: The Aztecs used it to treat burns, the Chinese used it to dress abscesses, and Native Americans ate the fruit and made syrup out of it to treat whooping cough and asthma. In traditional Mexican medicine, it was also used to treat diabetes and high cholesterol. Mexicans have even used it for painting churches and homes, as well as marking property lines. More recently, prickly pear seed oil has become popular for use in skin care.
Why is prickly pear seed oil so costly?
Although the prickly pear fruits contain about 150-300 seeds each on average, the seeds themselves are tiny and only contain about 5% oil. It takes a whopping 1 ton of prickly pear fruits to produce just 1 liter of oil. Although the oil is costly, prickly pear is an incredibly Sustainable crop.
It's not often anyone will tell you to put cactus on your face. Largely, this is because cacti are spiny and in fact we wouldn't suggest touching them at all. However, the insides of desert plants are frequently beneficial because the desert is so sparse; think of aloe as an example. Prickly pear isn't only used for beauty products, it's actually often eaten (ever heard of cactus fries?) or consumed in a distilled, syrupy form. In fact, you've probably seen it in cocktails or (for those who don't drink) as an ingredient at your local juicery.