The Prickly Pear

prickly pear seeds oil

"We use the best quality of prickly pear oil, organic and ecocert, for our haircare range."

The prickly pear oil, fruit of the cactus, is not very commonly used in cosmetics despite its exceptional virtues, due to the sector not being highly developed. We build our short supply chain with cooperatives in Morocco. We aim to reach a volume in our production that will both help in the development of this sector as well as the local population, particularly the women, who are primarily employed in the coops!

A little bit of botany!

About 1500 species of cactus belong to the genus Opuntia Ficus Indica. They are mainly found in Mediterranean countries, California and Mexico. This cactus usually grows with flat, rounded stems that have two types of thorns: the large and smooth spines, and the tiny spines, who look like hair, easily penetrate the skin. The fruits bloom in early May until the beginning of summer and they mature from August to October. But in some Mediterranean countries, you will see them in the market all year long!

But where does the cactus come from?

Contrary to what its name indicates, this cactus is not native to North Africa, the "Barbary", but from Mexico. In the 16th century, the Spanish introduced the Cactus of Barbary to the Mediterranean basin. It quickly became naturalized ...
Even today, the Mexican coats of arms represents a royal eagle, perched on a cactus of Opuntia, devouring a snake. This coat of arms is inspired by an Aztec legend: the Aztecs roamed throughout Mexico looking for a divine sign that would indicate the precise location where they should build their capital. After two hundred years, they found the promised sign and this is where they established their new capital.

Traditional use

In Morocco, the farmers used the Barbary fig as the most effective natural fence. Berber women discovered the virtues of the "fig of the Romans” and they introduced it very early into their folk medicine.
Today, the Barbary fig (prickly pear) is mostly consumed as a fruit: it is a thorny fruit with a prickly skin but sweet. Because of its many qualities, it is considered by the ONU and FAO as a Super Food ! It could be part of the solution to the famine and peace in the world in the near future !! Today, there are many experimental farms where we test products from the prickly pear. Thanks to global warming, the cactus is able to grow (nearly) everywhere !

Super oil!

The Cactus oil is obtained by cold pressing the seeds. This oil is still very rare: seeds represent about 18 to 20% of the peeled fruit, and the seed contains only 3 to 5% of oil. This means that one ton of fruit is needed to obtain 80 kg of seeds, of which the only 1L of oil is finally extracted.

The oil is exceptionally rich in linoleic acid (60-70%) and also contains oleic acid (9-26%). Its unsaturated fatty acid content is high (about 85%). These characteristics reflect the benefit of the Barbary fig (prickly pear) as a natural source of essential fatty acids (omega 6). It is also very rich in vitamin E (110mg / 100g). This gives it the ability to fight against free radicals, a high moisturizing value, and a real cell renewal capacity. It fits perfectly dry curly hair - or dried out and dehydrated. Unlike argan, prickly pear oil is still relatively unknown in Europe, and we would like to develop this sector with its enormous potential: it is why we created a range of products enriched with prickly pear seeds oil !