The beauty market is a strange place and people come up with a lot of products with the strangest ingredients ranging from snail mucin to 24-carat gold. Now, the spotlight is on a spiky desert plant, which is touted to provide skin hydration - the cactus.
While the exterior of a cactus may appear thorny, the inner gel-like substance is abundant with antioxidants and vitamins that play a beneficial role in combatting various skin issues.
Now, due to this notion (how true it is we'll get to in a bit), a lot of brands have come up with what is called cactus skincare i.e., products based on cactus or where the active ingredient is cactus. These brands include Faces Canada, The Skin Story, and Sage Apothecary to Korean brands like Tolymoly.
This 'cactus-based product' can be found in a lot of things, from toners to serums to moisturisers.
Cactus extracts are often used in skin care for their moisturising, soothing, and protective properties.
Dr Saurabh K Gupta, a plastic surgeon and cosmetologist from Noida, tells dailyO about some ways cactus is commonly used in skincare.
1. Hydration: Cactus extracts, such as prickly pear (a kind of cactus) oil, are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids that can help hydrate and nourish the skin. So, companies are selling this 'oil' for more than Rs 1,000 for 100 gm.
2. Soothing and calming: Cactus extracts are often used to soothe and calm irritated or sensitive skin. They can help reduce redness, and inflammation. Some influencers and brands also claim that it is better than aloe vera gel.
3. Sun protection: Some cactus extracts, particularly prickly pear, contain compounds that have been suggested to provide a degree of natural sun protection. While they can't replace traditional sunscreen, they may offer additional protection against UV damage. Due to this notion, a lot of sunscreen is sold with the main ingredient as 'cactus in it'.
4. Reduction of dark spots: Some studies also indicate that certain cactus extracts contain natural skin-brightening properties that can help fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation over time.
Dr Saurabh also says that cactus is a good source of vitamins A, D, E and K, which can be useful for healthy and good skin.
While cactus-based skincare products can offer various benefits for the skin, there are also potential drawbacks or cons to consider.
Dr Shubham Agarwal, a dermatologist from Mumbai, says that there are very limited studies done on cactus for skincare, with not enough scientific backing for it.
He also asked us to keep in mind:
1. Allergic reactions: Like any skincare ingredient, cactus extracts can potentially cause allergic reactions or skin sensitivities in some individuals.
2. Compatibility with other ingredients: Cactus extracts may not interact well with certain other skincare ingredients. For example, if you're using products that contain strong acids or retinoids, the combination with cactus extracts could potentially cause irritation or decrease the effectiveness of these active ingredients.
He also says, "While cactus extracts have shown promise in some studies for their potential skincare benefits, there is still a relatively limited amount of scientific research available compared to more established skincare ingredients. This means that the extent of their benefits and potential drawbacks might not be fully understood."
Experts also claim that the demand for cactus-based skincare products could potentially lead to overharvesting of cactus species, particularly if they are not sourced sustainably.
Healthy skin from a cactus? Meet Barbary Fig Seed Oil! It helps protect against free radicals, stimulates new cell growth and calms inflammation.— Sensatia Botanicals (@sensatia_bali) March 30, 2021
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#botanicals #cactus #facialmask #skincare pic.twitter.com/IX8Fs6bElR
As with any skincare ingredient, it's essential to approach cactus-based skincare products with caution and carefully observe how your skin reacts. If you have concerns or pre-existing skin conditions, it's always a good idea to consult with a dermatologist before incorporating new products into your routine.