Despite having one of nature’s spikiest defence mechanics, the humble cactus has begun making waves in beauty this year for its soothing skin care properties.
The plant’s jelly-filled interior contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and is also rich in linoleic acid, or vitamin F, which is said to aid in sebum control.
The powerhouse ingredient has, unsurprisingly, caught the attention of some of the beauty industry’s major players. Huda Beauty released a new concealer in March containing prickly pear cactus extract, and make-up artist Gucci Westman’s debut serum will also contain the vitamin E-rich ingredient.
But it is not just beauty businesses that are becoming enamoured with the prickly desert vegetation. Consumer interest for cacti is at an all time high in 2023, with #cactus having a staggering 6.2 billion views on TikTok.
TikTokers are seeking out recipe ideas and home decor inspirations, with nopal cactus, prickly pear and nightbloom cactus being the standout searches on the platform.
From an environmental perspective, cacti also have strong potential for sustainable innovations in the beauty industry, says Laurie Du, Mintel Associate Director for Beauty and Personal Care.
This is thanks to desert vegetation being one of the most sustainable plants on earth, which are able to survive in extreme conditions and with almost no water, she continues.
Du also points out the intersection of the cactus trend with interest in Mexican culture and foreign botanical ingredients, from brands such as Nopalera.
Founded in 2020 by Sandra Velasquez, she created the brand to showcase her family's culture and pay homage to the country's symbolic plant.
The nopal cactus in particular has historically been used in Mexico for cooking and making textiles, but is continuing to prove itself in the beauty arena for its use in skin care and exfoliants.
Cosmetics Business rounds up the top brands which have been contributing to the burgeoning cactus trend.
Huda Beauty, GloWish Concealer
The GloWish Concealer contains a hydrating formula of prickly pear cactus extract and sodium hyaluronate.
This has been blended with blueberry seed oil, caffeine and vitamin E.
The combination of ingredients helps to protect skin from free-radicals and pollution, while blurring imperfections and brightening the under eye area.
£24, availavble at hudabeauty.com
Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner, Glow RecipeAlong with antioxidant-rich watermelon, the Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner’s other key ingredient is cactus water.
The brand said the desert-resilient plant is packed with electrolytes and antioxidants to hydrate skin and seal in moisture, even in the most extreme temperatures.
£14, available at glowrecipe.com
Earth Based Body, Cactus Crush Natural Body CreamAntioxidant rich prickly pear cactus has been blended with hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5.
The combination of desert botanicals helps to target contributing causes of crepey skin, reducing its appearance and helping stop long-term progression.
The cream has also been formulated to boost skin resilience and elasticity.
Boscia, Cactus Water MoisturizerA lightweight moisturiser which has been formulated with queen of night cactus, helping to leave skin soft and smooth.
The fast-absorbing solution, suitable for combination and oily skin, also helps improve moisture levels without the weight of a heavy cream.
Boscia said the cream is suitable for priming skin prior to make-up application.
Sephora, Sephora Collection Natural Cactus Foot MaskThe Sephora Collection Cactus foot mask is enriched with plant extracts in a gel formula to deeply hydrate feet.
Sephora said cactus was chosen as the key ingredient as it is said to contain properties which ‘wake up’ tired feet.
The product comes with one pair of socks, and are suitable for normal to dry feet.
Quench Botanics, Chialeader Zit Fix SerumA lightweight, non-greasy faci al serum that is designed to unclogs pores and fight pimples and blemishes.
The formula is infused with cactus stem extract and cactus water, along with chia seed, bamboo and tea tree leaf water.
The ingredient’s antiseptic properties aid in controlling excess oil production that can clog pores.