Prickly pear: why this skincare ingredient is great for sensitive skin

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The skincare world is populated with superfoods. And the extract on the rise? Prickly pear. Here, Stylist looks into how this ingredient helps our skin and who should use it.

While the desire to experiment with skincare can be all-consuming, one very important factor to consider is your skin type. Some have acne-prone skin, others oily or dry, but sensitive skin may be the hardest to cater to of all.

Testing skincare products out turns into a very cautious, researched process for those with sensitive skin. And it makes sense: one minute your skin is neutral, albeit slightly flushed. The next after applying a new moisturiser, it ends up feeling irritated and grows increasingly red. So for those of us on the hunt for skincare products that work without irritating, what do we need to look out for?

The main irritants for sensitive skin are usually fragrance, alcohol, physical exfoliants and foaming soaps. 

And when it comes to ingredients, it’s worth knowing what helps reduce inflammation. One ingredient in particular that is believed to provide anti-inflammation and antioxidant benefits is a plant commonly known as prickly pear.

So, Stylist quizzed co-founder of Harley Street Skin and skincare expert, Lesley Reynolds to understand more about the enigmatic skincare ingredient.

What is prickly pear and where does it come from?

It’s mainly used in the form of an oil in skincare. “Prickly pear seed oil comes from the prickly pear and is from the cactus family,” says Reynolds. “We know it has been used in skincare for centuries, and that prickly pear oil has been documented to have been used to treat burns and hydrate the skin for over 300 years.”

What are the benefits of prickly pear in skincare?

Nourishing and hydrating are at the top of the agenda. “Prickly pear oil is high in antioxidants, especially high in vitamins A, C, E and K as well as Omega 6, essential fatty acids,” says Reynolds. ““It’s also a rich and potent source of Vitamin E – actually three times more vitamin E content than any other oil.”

Which skin concerns does prickly pear help with?

“It’s particularly beneficial for red or sensitive skin,” she says. But, it’s also great for dry skin as it’s a really nourishing extract.

Thinking about adding a prickly pear infused skincare product to your routine? We’ve rounded up the best products to get started with.

The best prickly pear skincare

  • The gentle cleanser

    Laura Mercier Balancing Foaming Cleanser

    This cleanser whips up into a non-stripping creamy lather that uses prickly pear to balance out our moisture levels.

    £26, Cult Beauty

  • The lightweight moisturer

    Bare Minerals Pureness Soothing Light Moisturiser

    Created with clean ingredients in mind, this gel moisturiser sinks into skin easily. 

    £33, Look Fantastic

  • The antioxidant-rich serum

    Molewa Velvet Concentrate Serum

    Looking for a more decadent serum? The Molewa concentrate blends vitamin C with collagen and prickly pear to improve skin’s texture.

    £49, Molewa Skincare

  • The soothing face mist

    Bear Harmony Prickly Pear Seed Oil and Aloe Face Mist

    This face mist combines prickly pear with aloe vera extract to soothe skin throughout the day.

    £60, Naturisimo

  • The luxurious face oil

    The Glowcery Clean Greens Superfood Serum Facial Oil

    Alongside powerful antioxidant oils such as hemp seed and green tea, The Glowcery facial oil is a luxurious treatment for the skin.

    £33, The Glowcery

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Images: Getty and courtesy of brands.

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