Prickly Pear Oil is the Unsung Hero for Clear Skin and Shiny Hair

Here's what experts say about the cactus derivative.

Prickly pear oil has quite the resume. A 2020 study proved that it has a longstanding history of treating inflammation and placating wounds, which explains why it’s now found in several personal care product ingredient lists today. This historic medicinal superstar is touted for its acne-calming abilities and keeping our manes looking sleek and shiny. Need we say more? We consulted three experts—dermatologist Jennifer Herrmann, M.D. and hairstylists Devin Toth and Michelle Cleveland— to explain the skincare and haircare benefits of prickly pear oil

What is prickly pear oil? 

According to Dr. Herrmann, prickly pear is a cactus plant that is rife in antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids. “Prickly pear is a type of cactus native to the Americas. Its fruit is rich in antioxidants, and its oil also contains high amounts of vitamin E, oleic acid, linoleic acid, as well as omegas,” she explains.

Toth, a stylist at the Manhattan-based salon, Salon SCK, says that prickly pear oil is a highly coveted ingredient. “Prickly pear seed oil is considered a luxurious and expensive ingredient,” he says. “When compared to other extracted oils, prickly pear seed oil requires a much longer and time-consuming extraction process and also requires a lot more quantity of seeds as well.”. 

What are the skincare benefits of prickly pear oil?

Prickly pear oil has linoleic acid, something that acne-prone skin lacks. In turn, it can help calm acne-prone skin. “Acne-prone skin is deficient in linoleic acid, so prickly pear oil can be helpful for those with acne without being greasy,” says Dr. Herrmann. She adds that the oil’s antioxidants protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals, “keeping the skin healthy and younger.” 

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Does prickly pear oil benefit all skin types?

Dr. Herrmann says that anyone can benefit from adding prickly pear oil to their skincare regimen. Since it contains a high amount of antioxidants, she believes that everyone can benefit from its protective properties. As an added bonus, she says that it’s not very greasy, meaning that its consistency would fare well with most skin types. 

What are the haircare benefits of prickly pear oil?

Besides helping the skin maintain a youthful appearance, prickly pear oil also adds some shine and moisture to the hair. “Prickly pear cacti moisturizes dryness, smoothes frizz, and prevents breakage. It has a ton of vitamin E which conditions and repairs your hair, giving it shine and volume. It has amino acids, Omega-6, Omega-9, and double the fatty acids and proteins such as Argan oil,” says Toth.

Cleveland, a hairstylist and owner of the New Jersey-based salon, Hair Addict Salon & Extension Bar, explains that prickly oil is lightweight compared to other hair oils, making it a great styling product for “a glossy and tangle-free shine.” Sign us up.

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Does prickly pear oil benefit all hair types?

Toth says all hair types would benefit from adding prickly pear oil to their strands. However, certain hair types would benefit more than others. “It’s most beneficial for dry, porous hair types such as highly textured, curly, wavy, chemically processed, and dyed,” he explains.