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Prickly Pear: What a cactus from the Sonoran Desert can do for your skin


The latest botanical enlisted to help preserve your youthful bloom may not come from an organic garden, but from a cactus grown in the world's harshest desert.
prickly pear
(Photo: NBC TODAY)

The latest botanical enlisted to help preserve your youthful bloom may not come from your average organic garden. If Sia Botanics is right on its research, it’ll come from a cactus grown in the world’s harshest desert.

“Prickly pear is going to be the next pomegranate or acai,” says Christina Mahar, the creator of Sia Botanics. Its juice and seed oil contains high levels of betalains, a class of super-antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and speed cellular turnover—two “youth-preserving” actions.

Sia Botanics, with an HQ in Arizona, bases all its skin-care products on plants found in the Sonoran Desert, like jojoba and aloe vera. Prickly pear is the latest.

Christina Mahar
Christina Mahar, founder of Sia Botanics. (Photo: Rebecca Ellison for the Arizona Daily Star)

Plants that grow in extreme climates are often tapped for skin care. The properties that allow plants to survive and adapt while exposed to ridiculous conditions—think arctic berries and alpine flowers, as well as desert cacti—are the same ones that can nourish your dehydrated, free-radical-packed skin. Or so the thinking goes.

“All desert plants have super-high anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial properties, and an amazing capacity to hold moisture in,” says Mahar. Who doesn’t want that for their skin?

Prickly pear also acts like a skin-care supplement—it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals that nourish skin and improve its texture and cellular function, says Mahar.

But, you can’t just go picking it and applying it like aloe. Like it’s name suggests, prickly pear is a bit unfriendly, and acidic. So it has to be blended with other buffering ingredients, lest it irritate your skin.

Mahar’s prickly pear range, which launches this week, includes a cleanser, toner, two moisturizers, and a seed serum–all of which are meant to reduce signs of skin aging, like wrinkles, lines, and rough texture.

For a natural line making these claims, the products are affordably priced from $12 to $28. Turns out this prickly plant is friendly to the skin and the wallet. —Lisa Elaine Held

Sia Botanics’ Prickly Pear line debuts this Friday, May 25. For updates on the product launch, sign up for Sia’s email newsletter, here.

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