Move Over Argan Oil, It’s All About Prickly Pear

Cactus has been one of the latest trends in skincare and all its benefits we are not complaining. One species of cactus in particular, the prickly pear, deserves the spotlight. Also called the Indian fig, this bright red fruit has been a staple in South American diets for more years than we can count. The fruit grows on the paddle of the cactus, which is actually vegetable. Lately, more and more skincare brands have been using the oil from the seed of the prickly pear in their products. Like most nutritious bounty, there are skincare benefits whether you eat the fruit or apply the oils directly to your skin. We’ll discuss a mix of both.

Vitamin E

A popular antioxidant, vitamin E is used for a lot of different important functions by our body. First, let’s talk dark under-eye circles. We may not always get a full eight hours of sleep, and those pesky dark circles announce it to the world. Where does vitamin E come in? Take this Japanese study for instance: researchers found that a topical gel with vitamins E and C helped combat haemostasis1, which is a fancy medical term for when blood-flow stops. One of the reasons for the pigmentation under our eyes after a restless night is haemostasis. After eight weeks, the study found a reduction in the pigmentation under the eyes1.

Now let’s talk about the primary role of vitamin E: its antioxidant function. Like other antioxidants, vitamin E prevents damage by free radicals (those bad guys that cause damage and eventually, the appearance of wrinkles and sagging). Because of this, a huge part of formulating anti-aging products involves choosing antioxidants we know can help fight free radical damage. One advantage vitamin E has over other antioxidants is that it is fat-soluble. This means that it can travel down to the layers of our skin where it’s needed most and protect more of our skin than their water-soluble antioxidant counterparts. One little bonus in the world photo-protection as related to vitamin E is that it has been found that molecules in the vitamin E family can absorb UVB rays2. Of course, we want our sunscreen to be broad spectrum and absorb UVA rays as well. However, the extra boost in protection is definitely nice, as UVB rays can be more damaging than UVA rays.

So just where does the prickly pear cactus come in? Well, the content of vitamin E in the fruit of the cactus is sky high—up to 17 g/kg of fruit!


Although the word sounds foreign, betalains are actually an antioxidant most people are familiar with. If you’ve had a delicious acai bowl or munched on some goji berries, you’ve been exposed to betalains. Like those two other superfoods, the prickly pear also has betalains which can be obtained through oil of the seed3. If you don’t love the taste of prickly pear, no worries! Just look for skincare products with prickly pear seed oil and you’ll derive this super benefit all the same.


If you’re prone to breakouts and worry about using oils on your face, put your doubts aside. Prickly pear seed oil is non-comedogenic (like argan oil) so it will not clog your pores. The types of fat mostly present in the oil obtained from the seed is linoleum and oleic fatty acids4. These are essential oils, meaning that although our skin needs them, they can only be obtained through our diet (or topical application). Therefore, our skin absorbs these oils, leaving our skin feeling light and grease-free. Because we need to keep our skin’s oils balanced for moisturized skin, using a non-comedogenic oil as a part of your skincare routine is very important for healthy, glowing skin. You’ll be giving your skin the oils it needs to retain water while keeping your pores clear and clean.


Phytosterols are mostly known for their medicinal benefit, but these compounds are true powerhouses, loaded with benefits for our health and skin. Sun exposure can speed up the breakdown of collagen, which is a necessity for youthful-looking skin4. As we age, we also aren’t able to produce as much as collagen as the days of our youth. A German study found that topical applications of phytosterols not only stop the slow-down of collage production caused by the sun, but also a part of the collagen synthesis process4. This is great because our bodies can use phytosterols by ingestion or topical application.4 So either eating the cactus itself or incorporating into your skincare routine can be beneficial.

Want to get prickly pear on your skin? Try 8CELLENT’s Vitality Duo Essence, a luscious oil-water solution that texturally refines the look of skin and deeply nourishes every pore. The first step of your skincare ritual after cleansing, this innovative bi-phase oil-and-water solution gently exfoliates skin while drenching it with moisturizing and revitalizing botanicals to instantly unveil a brighter-looking, youthful complexion. With prickly pear extract, this essence also combats free radical damage like no other—for good skin today and for good skin tomorrow.


1. Mitsuishi T., Shimoda T., Mitsui Y., Kuriyama Y., Kawana S. The effects of topical application of phytonadione, retinol and vitamins C and E on infraorbital dark circles and wrinkles of the lower eyelids. Japanese Cosmetic Dermatology. (2004);3(2):73-75.

2. Kagan V., Witt E., Goldman R., Scita G., Packer L. Ultraviolet light-induced generation of vitamin E radicals and their recycling. A possible photosensitizing effect of vitamin E in skin. Free Radical Research Communications, (1992);16(1):51-64.

3. Madrigal-Santillán E, García-Melo F, Morales-González JA, et al. Antioxidant and Anticlastogenic Capacity of Prickly Pear Juice. Nutrients. 2013;5(10):4145-4158. doi:10.3390/nu5104145.

4. Chougui N., Tamendjari A., Hamidj W., Hallal S., Barras A., Richard T., Larbat R. Oil composition and characterization of phenolic compounds of Opuntia ficus-indica seeds. Food Chemistry, (2013);139(1-4):796-803. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.01.054. Epub 2013 Jan 30.