There is no denying skin care is rife with active ingredients that aim to do everything from resurface to brighten to refine pores. What is much less talked about is how effective natural ingredients can actually be; especially when it comes to nourishing, protecting and enhancing the glow factor of your skin. One such buzzed about natural ingredient: prickly pear oil. We chatted to Corey Bell, Creative Director of Australian skin care brand MERE to find out everything from what the ingredient is to why natural skin care can be so effective.
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What the heck is prickly pear oil?
“Derived from a cactus called Opuntia Ficus Indica, it’s the ultimate, do-it-all-facial oil,” explains Corey. “The process of extracting the fruit from the seeds…can take three to four days and the season only lasts for a few months…it’s a lengthy operation,” he says. “Half a ton of these cactus fruits only produce one litre of prickly pear seed oil, and each seed only contains 5% oil. This combination of factors is what makes prickly pear oil one of the most expensive beauty oils in the world.”
Why is it so good for your skin?
Prickly pear oil contains “the highest amount of vitamin E of any beauty oil and the highest percentage of essential fatty acids omega 6 & 9 of any plant, making it incredibly powerful for skin health,” Corey explains. Omega 6 & 9 are crucial for keeping the collagen in your skin nourished and helps pores tighten. It also contains a uniquely high content of linoleic and oleic acids. These acids, Corey explains are vital in rehydrating skin and replenishing elasticity. Linoleic acid also has the ability to prevent sebum from hardening and turning into blocked pores and blemishes. It is also important to note that prickly pear oil has comedogenic rating of 0 out of 5, meaning it works to unclog pores, instead of causing breakouts (which traditional oils are associated with).
Vitamin K, then works to brighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation. Plus, prickly pear oil contains super antioxidant pigments to help “protect the skin against ageing from” environmental aggressors, promote cell turnover and reduce redness and dryness.
How and why is it different to a serum?
This is when skin care really gets confusing – between cleansers, toners, essences, serums, oils, it can all get a little too much. So where does an oil fit in and how is it different to a serum?
“Oils are emollients,” explains Corey. This means “unlike serums, which sink deep into skin for intensive results, oils tend to hang out near the surface. Oils add a layer of barrier protection, silkiness and superficial hydration…they sink into the skin just enough to nourish the topmost layer.” As far as fitting one into your skincare routine, facial oils should always be the last step. “If you use a facial oil before a water-based product such as a moisturiser or serum, the water-based product won’t penetrate your skin as effectively,” he says. Prickly pear oil, specifically however, is more versatile than a simple face oil, as it has “the rare combination of a light texture with deep penetration.” As an ingredient, this versatility means it can be formulated in all kinds of ways such as cream formulas including masks and eye creams. In oil form prickly pear offers “an instant softness and glow that can be addictive…more than that, facial oils are highly natural and possess skin-identical ingredients that are respectful of your skin’s biology while also being highly effective,” he says. Plus, they form a protective barrier layer, which helps the skin absorb other products and ingredients better.
What skin types is it best for?
Due to it’s comedogenic rating of 0, prickly pear oil works for just about any skin type, including combination or acne-prone. “Whether you have dry, sensitive or mature skin prickly pear oil is ideal due to its exceptional hydrating and illuminating ability,” says Corey. Essentially, this specific ingredient “is integral to healthy skin, since it acts as the sealant that keeps moisture in. Without it, moisture leeches out until the next time you apply cream,” he says.
A few prickly pear oil products bh loves: Mere Glow Boost Functional Face Oil (find it at mereskincare.com), Lux Aestiva Pricky Pear Oil (find it at luxaestiva.com), Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Oil (find it at sephora.com.au), Mere Recharge & Repair Night Mask (find iat mereskincare.com)
Now, excuse us while we add 10 prickly pear products to our carts.
Main image credit @vanessahudgens
Do you like the sound of this ingredient? Would you consider integrating a facial oil into your routine?