Prickly Pear

Prickly Pear extract is manufactured from the fruit of the Opuntia ficus-indica plant. The extract is intended for cosmetic applications to be used as a skin conditioning agent having both skin hydrating and anti-ageing effects.



Opuntia ficus-indica fruit extract, propanediol, water


Appearance: Golden brown liquid

Solubility: Water soluble

pH range: 4.5 - 6.5

  • Non-irritant
  • Derived from nature
  • Traditionally used
  • Safe


Use level: 2–6%

Shelf-life: 24 months


  • Anti-ageing
  • Skin hydration
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Emollient
  • Humectant


The Opuntia ficus-indica plants used for the production of Pricky pear extract are indigeous to Mexico but are now cultivated naturally in South Africa. Following an organic cultivation process, the plants are washed then dried and graded. Zuplex obtains the best plant material through the appointed commercial trader whereafter the raw material is prepared for extraction.


Opuntia ficus indica is used as a folk medicine in Mexico for the treatment of burns, wounds, oedema, and indigestion. The extracts of O. ficus indica cladodes are used in folk medicine for their antiulcer and wound-healing activities. It has been reported that its alcoholic extract possesses anti-inflammatory, hypoglycaemic, and anti-viral activities. Moreover, in Mexico, the prickly pear cactus stems have been used traditionally to treat diabetes. It has also been reported to be medicinally used in hyperlipidaemia (excess of lipids in the blood), and obesity. The flowers and cladodes extracts have hypoglycaemic effects as they have the ability to slow the rate of intestinal absorption of glucose. O. ficus indica is considered prominent in traditional and modern medicine.


The prickly pear fruit contains approximately 85% water, 15% sugar, and a small amount of protein. The sugar component is made up of mainly glucose and fructose. The flesh is a good source of vitamins (Vitamin C, E, K, and beta-carotenes), minerals (potassium, magnesium, and calcium), and several types of amino acids (alanine, arginine, and asparagine).

The prickly pear extract has a high content of tannins, flavonoids, betanins, and alkaloids. Antioxidants in prickly pear fruits include pectin, carotenes, betalains, ascorbic acid, quercetin, and quercetin derivatives. These contribute to the antioxidant activity of the extract, making it good for detoxification and protection of skin. The high tannin content of prickly pear can act as a natural astringent, which is favourable for skin firming. Betanins are phytochemicals that only a few plants produce to protect themselves by acting as an antioxidant. The flavonoids and alkaloids work synergistically to protect, repair, and soothe the skin and hair. Overall, the prickly pear extract is a perfect combination of vitamins and polyphenolic antioxidants to condition and protect your skin.


Prickly pear extract can be used in formulations aimed at increasing skin hydration and improving the skin’s overall condition. The prickly pear extract has been shown to increase the water content of the stratum corneum of the skin, demonstrating its moisturising efficacy. The extract works by enhancing the skin barrier effect, thereby reducing TEWL. The prickly pear extract acts as a humectant and occlusion mechanism, resulting in good skin hydration. The extract is high in antioxidants, which improves elasticity and softens and moisturises the skin. There is a visible reduction of inflammation and redness and a documented impact on hyper-pigmentation. The polysaccharides and polyphenols actively stimulate cell renewal and are well known to hydrate the skin, making it suitable for both sensitive and normal skin types. The bio adhesion of polysaccharides to epithelia has been demonstrated in this traditionally used fruit. The antimicrobial properties help address issues with acne, and the natural ingredient offers a healing touch that reduces redness and soothes sunburn.

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