The prickly pear cactus fruit may be well known as a delicacy for several recipes. Although its seeds contain oil loaded with important phenols, fatty acids, phytosterols, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Most plant oil extracts have hair benefits, but cactus oil (also called prickly pear cactus oil) is among the most beneficial natural hair oils.
The oil is widely used to smooth broken hair, mitigate hair loss, promote hair growth, heal damaged hair, and promote shiny hair.
When compared to other hair oils on the market (like canola oil and palm oil), cactus-enriched hair oil is a luxurious option. It requires more seeds, processing time, and resources to extract the oil.
In a recent study, cactus oil demonstrated remarkable anti-inflammatory properties. Similarly, it helps soothe the scalp and promotes the maintenance of shiny and sleek-looking hair.
With a 62% composition of linoleic acid, prickly pear oil can reverse excessive hair and scalp dryness problems.
It is used on its own to promote scalp and hair health, but cactus oil is also used as a carrier oil. If you are considering adding a natural plant oil to your hair care regimen, this oil can be a great option.
To help you make an informed decision, this article provides an overview of cactus oil related to hair care.
Table of Contents
- Why Is Cactus Good For Your Hair?
- What are the Benefits of Cactus Oil for Hair Care?
- How Cactus Seed Oil Works
- How to Use Cactus Oil for Natural Hair Care
- Why is Cactus Oil Good for Hair Care?
- Is Cactus Oil Safe for Your Hair?
- How to Identify Genuine Natural Cactus Seed Oil
- Cactus Benefits: The Take-Away
Why Is Cactus Good For Your Hair?
Cactus belongs to the Cactaceae family and is also commonly known as nopal and prickly pear. These cactus plants are naturally occurring in Africa, the Mediterranean, and Australia.
The oil is extracted by cold pressing the seeds, but the process is time and resource-consuming. Typically, one liter of cactus seed oil requires about eight tons of the nopal fruit.
While cactus has been used for decades, it has only gained popularity recently due to high amounts of beneficial constituents. Extracts from desert-growing plants are applauded for a wide range of health and beauty benefits.
Cactus oil boasts most of these benefits, specifically on skincare and haircare. The fatty acids in nopal seed oil can promote robust hair growth, and the vitamins can enhance hair luster.
Essential minerals and vitamins are vital for maintaining healthy hair by nourishing your hair follicles. Cactus stores nutrients and water for a long time, leading to the rich mineral profile seen in cactus seed oil.
Some of its essential minerals and vitamins include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
- Omega-9 (Oleic acid)
- Omega-6 (Linoleic acid)
- Stearic acid
- Palmitic acid
What are the Benefits of Cactus Oil for Hair Care?
Cactus oil doesn’t get its accolades just for its numerous beauty and hair care benefits. Compared to argan oil, cactus is not an endangered plant, thus a more ethical option with more benefits.
In the beauty industry, vitamin E acetate has been an all-time favorite for most scalp and hair issues. Notably, cactus oil has outstanding levels of vitamin E.
More than 60% of cactus oil composition is linoleic acid with high skin penetration capabilities, making the oil a better option for scalp and hair moisturization. The rapid absorption leaves no greasy residues, and the oil is similar to the natural oil produced by the scalp cells.
This means it can quickly balance sebum production that has been compromised by long-term use of commercial hair care products with harsh chemicals.
More benefits of cactus oil include:
1. Boost Hair Growth and Mitigates Hair Loss
Omega fatty acids are essential for hair growth and development. They help ensure your hair cycles through the different stages without stagnation that usually results in permanent hair loss.
Specifically, omega-6, also known as linoleic acid, is an effective regenerative agent that ensures a healthy and balanced scalp environment for optimum hair growth.
2. Moisturizing the Scalp and Hair Follicles
Since cactus has outstanding water retention capabilities, the prickly pear seed oil is among the best moisturizing oils.
The proper moisturization helps keep the hair soft and shiny and ensures a sufficient protective coating essential for preventing hair damage.
Cactus withstands harsh environmental conditions with limited moisture thanks to high amounts of vitamin B5. When applied to your hair, this vitamin helps repair split ends and frizzy follicles.
Also, prickly pear oil is praised for its outstanding composition of vitamin E and stands above most hair care oils, including argan oil. With a sufficient supply of vitamin E, your hair stays hydrated and free from problems related to dry hair.
3. Eliminates Scalp Irritations and Reverses Hair Damage
Medical studies have shown that oil extracted from prickly pear seeds contains immense antifungal and antibacterial properties. The oil contains compounds like betalains which are renowned for superior anti-inflammatory properties and protection against damaging radicals.
In fact, several scientific studies show that regular use of cactus seed oil can lower inflammatory markers. Similarly, it increases the level of carotenoids in the scalp, which is an excellent indicator of better antioxidant status.
Antioxidants are great for reversing and preventing the effects of environmental pollutants and harmful UV radiation. On the other hand, substances with antibacterial properties can cleanse the scalp and prevent inflammations and hair damage.
The cactus seed oil contains high levels of the two components; therefore, it is a great remedy for irritated scalp.
People who struggle with scalp inflammations normally have lower levels of linoleic acid and higher oleic acid. To achieve a balance in the scalp, it is recommended to use hair oil with a high linoleic acid composition.
However, the oil must be non-pore clogging to ensure balanced and healthy sebum production. Cactus oil fits the description with its high linoleic composition and outstanding absorption characteristics.
How Cactus Seed Oil Works
Over the years, argan oil has been touted as the best beauty care oil thanks to its high mineral, proteins, and vitamin composition. Still, it is used to remedy several hair problems.
Nevertheless, the cactus seed oil is quickly rising through the ranks because it achieves everything that argan oil does, but it is more effective. And this is due to higher concentrations of minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids.
The cactus seed oil contains high levels of essential fatty acids, which can reverse and prevent hair loss. The minerals and vitamins ensure a constant supply of nutrients critical to your hair follicles leading to healthy and glossy hair.
Additionally, the Omega fatty acids in prickly pear oil are vital for the growth and development of hair. That’s why cactus oil is among the best hair oils for hair loss.
Specifically, this oil stimulates hair follicles and promotes a seamless transition through the various hair growth stages. Primarily, hair loss results from a cessation in growth stages.
According to recent studies, the antimicrobial properties in prickly pear oil have shown potency similar to ampicillin, trimethoprim, and streptomycin. This explains why high-end beauty and hair care products are using cactus oil as an ingredient.
How to Use Cactus Oil for Natural Hair Care
Cactus seed oil can be used for hair treatment by applying it to the scalp. For best results, use your hand to massage the scalp with the oil and let it stay for several hours before washing off. Alternatively, you can apply cactus oil as a leave-in hair conditioner after washing your hair.
Cactus seed oil can be used as a stand-alone hair treatment, but it can also be mixed with other oils to enhance the benefits.
If you experience hair thinning, castor oil combined with cactus oil can be a great way to restore thick and healthy hair. Similarly, mixing coconut oil and cactus oil can work wonders on dry and damaged hair.
If you are dealing with severe hair damage or dryness problems, you can apply cactus oil on your hair daily to speed up the recovery process.
For the best results, massage your scalp and hair with a few drops of cactus oil at night and wash off in the morning. However, if you have oily hair, you are better off using a drop of cactus oil two times a week, so your hair doesn’t look greasy.
Cactus oil is an excellent carrier oil, thanks to its high rate of absorption. For instance, researchers have combined the oil with vitamin A for use on the skin.
Notably, cactus oil was found to perfectly deliver vitamin A into the skin tissues. Therefore, cactus oil is used to deliver other beneficial nutrients that are challenging to deliver as stand-alone components.
To use as a carrier oil, combine cactus oil with your favorite essential oil. Typically, the volume of essential oil used determines the potency of the oil.
Why is Cactus Oil Good for Hair Care?
Health and beauty enthusiasts have not branded the prickly pear a “superfood” just to make it look cool.
Cactus oil is well-endowed with high levels of essential fatty acids like omega-6 and omega-9, and it is exceptionally high in vitamin E –which is a natural antioxidant known to combat the effects of free radicals.
Cactus oil has a well-balanced profile of amino acids, which stimulate collagen formation and better cell turnover in the scalp and hair.
Abundant collagen production helps keep the scalp firm while protecting you from UV damage and other harmful environmental pollutants. The amino acids in prickly pear seed oil ensure a balanced PH and keep your hair and scalp hydrated.
With 150% of proteins and fatty acids found in argan oil, cactus seed oil softens your hair and gives it a beautiful gloss. In a fast-paced world, most people have adopted unhealthy lifestyles characterized by unhealthy food choices.
If you are deficient in some nutrients, using cactus oil can supplement the nutrients in your hair and prevent hair loss (i.e., hair fall in certain cultures) and other issues.
Is Cactus Oil Safe for Your Hair?
Prickly pear seed oil is natural and safe to use for all hair types. However, if you have allergies to cactus oil, you should avoid using this hair product.
If you are among the people with sensitive scalps, it’s recommended that you do a patch test before using cactus oil.
The best way to do a patch test is by applying a drop of undiluted oil on your wrist and making observations for 24 hours. If you develop an allergic reaction, don’t use cactus oil, but you can safely use the oil if there is no noticeable reaction.
Like most natural hair care products creating ripples across the beauty industry, cactus oil is free from harmful additives.
Most commercial hair care products come in enticing packaging and promise to deliver instant solutions for hair problems.
Unfortunately, many of them contain harsh chemicals and additives that can leave you with worse hair problems.
Typically, harsh additives can quickly degrade the protective layer in your scalp and hair, resulting in dry, brittle hair, but there is an even worse risk. When used continuously, the chemicals can attack your hair follicles and damage the natural structure of the roots.
How to Identify Genuine Natural Cactus Seed Oil
Cactus seed oil is among the most expensive beauty oils due to the resource-intensive production process. It is mostly used in advanced hair treatments, and it’s possible to come across products that are not actually pure prickly pear seed oil.
- The product description should explicitly state “cactus seed oil” or “cactus extract.”
- The oil should have a strong floral, fruity, sweet smell (there is a slight variance depending on the time of harvest, with summer pressings having a lighter odor).
- The color should be pale to medium green but could be slightly lighter for oil produced in the summer.
- Pure cactus oil has a fatty feel when rubbed between your fingers.
Cactus Benefits: The Take-Away
Cactus seed oil (prickly pear seed oil) is a powerful hair oil that is a non-comedogenic option that is absorbed quickly into the scalp and doesn’t leave unpleasant residues that can clog pores.
It is rich in numerous compounds with superior antibacterial, hydrating, and antioxidant properties. With various fatty acids and vitamins, cactus seed oil can combat hair damage and prevent scalp inflammation.
Whether you want to remedy common hair problems or maintain healthy and beautiful hair, the nourishing extracts of cactus oil can be an ideal component of your natural hair regimen.
To start reaping the benefits, you can add the oil to your shampoo or use it directly as a leave-in conditioner for your hair.
Also, if you’re interested in understanding the natural ingredients from other plants and oils, and their benefits on hair care, consider the following options: arugula (Eruca Sativa), aloe vera (Aloe Barbadensis), garlic (Allium Sativum), rosemary oil (Rosemarinus Officinalis), and olive oil (Europaea Olea).