Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) Seed Oil is another treasure finding its way out of Morocco following its hugely successful predecessor Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil. It’s currently one of the most expensive oils available to buy purely for its own value rather than say, couture brand label mark-ups and packaging so it’s quite an honour to be writing about something that I wouldn’t usually come across. If Argan oil is known as ‘liquid gold’ then would that make Prickly Pear liquid platinum? I took it for a test drive to see 😉
Please note – the bottle of 10ml Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil I’m reviewing was provided by VWCosmetics at http://www.vwcosmetics.com/ in exchange for a fair opinion and company mention, both of which I always include as a matter of course in a review 🙂
OVERVIEW OF THE SITUATION
I was offered the chance to try this oil whilst nursing a scald/burn on my left hand so this review is the sequel to the one featuring Dr Organic’s Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex, it continues the treatment here’s a re-cap of where I left off:
Approx 1 week after the burn
Time for a change from the aloe vera and lemon juice, started using Dr Organic’s Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex.
Approx 1 week after that
Time for another change – I find it best to do this as the skin (body in general) can get used to one thing/treatment and the effects can plateau but I still needed more healing so started using the Organic Prickly Pear Seed oil (OPPSO) on affected area and the above oil on the areas around it.
And approx 1 week after that
Dabbing apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’ intact on the wound as a finishing touch, this was left to the end as it is a high strength, unrefined vinegar and not generally found on the highstreet. It’s very strong (so should be diluted) and also very versatile for health, cosmetic and cleaning – so using it here to eat through the damaged layers, heal, soften (yes this type of vinegar softens skin – and hair – whereas lemon juice dries) and lighten the skin. Using OPPSO and argan afterwards.
Note on terminology from now on:
OPPSO – refers specifically to VWCosmetics Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil
PPSO – refers to prickly pear seed oil in general, organic or not, virgin & cold pressed or not.
WHAT IS A PRICKLY PEAR?
It’s not a pear as we know and love but a colourful cactus fruit that grows in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Ever heard that joke about treating a porcupine for pins and needles? Well this plant and its fruit are covered in spindles so it no joke when local growers say to leave the higher growing fruit to the birds since it’s not a good idea to use ladders near these plants!… Ouch. They remind me a tad of dragon fruit on the outside and pomegranates on the inside so that should give you an idea of how exotic they are and how small their seeds are. The Daily Mail stated that it takes 1 million seeds to make 1litre of oil and the Chelsea Physic Garden say that their 3in spines used to play 78rpm records on gramophones before steel needles, yikes! They have a Mayan heritage but were also found throughout Africa as a precious resource for food and health then taken to the Mediterranean where they were hailed and regaled before being brought to the spotlight again in current times.
What are those spikes protecting?
A heck of a lot of vitamin content (E & K primarily) and unsaturated fatty acids (Linoleic/Omega 6, Oleic/Omega 9 – has the ability to penetrate beneath the upper layer(s) of skin for longer lasting benefits) as well as saturated acid (Palmitic), minerals and amino acids. And that’s just in the seed oil, the rest of the seed and fruit as a whole are very nutritious. In terms of cosmetic use PPSO is suitable for residents of such dry climates and when shared with the rest of us, in theory a great health booster particularly for those advancing in years and those with dry skin/hair, lines/wrinkles and for some masking to removing discolouration of skin and light scarring. I’ve read about those with heavy scarring and birthmarks having ‘miraculous’ results but personally I doubt that would happen for me. There doesn’t appear to be many sources of info (other than the invaluable and irreplaceable experience of the those who’ve been consuming/using it for ages of course) but the general consensus is that PPSO outclasses argan oil in tocopherols and tocotrienols (the 10 groups of Vitamin E) and leaves olive oil in the dust so to speak hence has the highest amount of Vitamin E out of most oils available for cosmetic use. Other oils noted for Vitamin E are wheat germ and almond. Remember though that Vitamin E can only be taken internally in much smaller amounts than topical use – so olive oil is still excellent for eating and for thicker texture.
I’ve tried to explain Vitamin E in a number of reviews but basically unlike other vitamins it’s not a single ‘thing’ – it’s a group of compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols (5 of each) that are collectively known as Vitamin E though on many products you’ll notice a prominence of tocopherols mentioned e.g. ‘tocopherols enriched’. As a beauty aid Vitamin E is noted and used for anti-oxidant ability and focus on regeneration so all round anti-aging and weather protecting.
PUTTING IT THROUGH THE PACES
First impressions – texture and packaging
The oil is lightweight, has a faint scent that reminds me of cocoa butter and is very smooth – that might sound strange but many oils thicken and get blobby to in the cold but this one doesn’t. That might be because it’s a ‘stable’ oil meaning that it retains more of its nutritional value in conditions that other oils would start to degrade in, given that it’s cultivated and used in hot climates with bright sunshine it’s impressive that it also holds well in the cold. It’s also quick to absorb.
It comes in a cute, little dark Brown glass bottle and matching thick card Brown box. It has an inbuilt, plastic dropper pipette which I found was slow/clogged at times so perhaps not quite wide enough but other than that functional and prevents waste.
On the burn
I started using this on the burn because I felt it would be better to use a single ingredient product to get the full benefit, product blends are great but sometimes I feel the properties are competing and you might not get the force of the ones you want as they are subdued by others. I was tempted by another product I had used in the past that is a powerhouse of oils but I decided for the burn area itself to go with the OPPSO for the higher concentration of Vitamin E. I’m not one who goes for either phrase ‘if you eat well it shows so you shouldn’t have to worry about your skin/hair/nails’ or ‘the product you apply in one area spreads and affects all the other areas so why bother with specific areas’ … I agree with both to an extent as through research and experience (and quite frankly common sense) one does affect the other, it’s all connected but at the same time some areas need more attention than others and tailored attention at that. That’s exactly why in my Dr Organic Vitamin E Oil review I stated that I felt it important to keep the whole hand well nourished so the skin around the burn wouldn’t suffer as well and could indeed boost aid to the affected area but at the same time the affected area has different/extra needs.
By the time I started using this my skin had that overly smooth/non lined look like a gel blob were it liquid and if left like that looked as if it would probably acquire that somewhat shiny look of stretch mark and cut/torn based scars as well as the lines from the surrounding skin. I wanted to avoid that because it’s a large and noticeable area.
I only needed upto 4 drops to cover the affected and surrounding area and used it regularly especially after washing. I found that it wasn’t as softening or smoothing as I had expected but my hands are problem areas in that respect and need more in the way of lotion or body butter for that effect. However it addressed the shiny tissue issue and made the skin look more ‘real’ and matte again. It now looks more like a birthmark or skin discolouration than an injury scar and the area is not raised but level with the rest of the skin. I think that’s the most I could hope for given the severity of the burn, my skin being prone to scarring and using this at a later stage of the treatment instead of earlier.
Uneven skin tone
Interestingly enough PPSO has notable amounts about both Vitamins E and K; the former being a blood thinner and the latter a thickener – in that sense I can imagine that having a balance of both would or should assist with uneven skin tones, not taking into account skin colourants but more the formation of skin cells. That said old scars and marks run deep and can take years to noticeably reduce since even new skin copies the old when it comes to those so it’s important to use something that is high in Omega 9 to get to those layers or be present when they grow, it’s one thing to have the Vitamin E it’s another to get it where you want it to go, (argan oil has much more Omega 9 than PPSO).
It’s supposed to help with shadows on the face and like many other people probably have been doing I’ve been sleeping under the blanket since on the onset of cold weather and that leads to blotchy facial skin and the darkening of the sides of the nose and under the eyes especially. I’ve tried the oil in that area and haven’t noticed any difference but that’s unlikely to change unless I come up for air and actually get some more oxygen! I’m thinking if I steamed my face & neck and then put this on as an overnight moisturizer it would have a much better chance.
I had a few places of torn skin near my cuticles and this healed them in no time, they didn’t even itch – just went straight back to normal skin.
It’s apparently also really good for achieving glossy locks with a little going a long way, since this is a 10ml bottle and I’m pre-occupied with my skin at the moment I haven’t tried it but I’d hazard a guess that since its rich in Omega 6&9 it’d be better for thick and/or coarse (prone to curling, wiry) or dry and/or damaged hair – it might be too heavy/greasy feeling for light and/or thin hair unless washed out shortly after or heat dried-in.
VALERIE WIDMANN COSMETICS
Looking at the VWCosmetics website I was impressed by the passion shown by the founder for the products from production to sustainability. There is a focus on organic argan and prickly pear seed oil products, both of which are grown by fair trade women’s cooperatives with an interest in helping and forwarding their position in society and protecting their environment. Acquiring both oils is extremely labour intensive e.g. for OPPSO the seeds have to be carefully separated from the pulp and ‘Because each seed contains only 5% of oil, up to 35 kilograms of seeds are necessary to get about 1 litre of Oil.’
There is a lot of info on the site so I won’t reproduce it here but it’s poignant to note that this is pure OPPSO and not a cheaper alternative where PPSO has been blended with other oils or actually from the cactus blossoms and not the fruit seeds.
Also for company info:
VWC OPPSO is
-produced on demand ensuring freshness
-organic and unscented
-virgin and unrefined
-does not contain artificial or chemical additives
-paraben and cruelty-free
-brown bottles for maximum protection
-distributed from Germany in consideration of the strict German cosmetic directives
OPPSO Eco – Certification
VWC only works with Producers in Morocco that have their OPPSO classified as a “Natural and Organic cosmetic” holding both ECOCERT and USDA certification.
I think on the whole I’d benefit a lot more from OPPSO if I was older or had weather beaten skin/hair, the fact that I use oils regularly (and have a high oil ‘fat’ diet) perhaps made the effects less noticeable but I can imagine that if the weather was hotter, more oil used and dried in over a longer time period the properties would have more of a chance to shine. Plus this is a small bottle but I’d be interested to see how it fairs on other problem areas on the body. That said in terms of healing damaged skin for both a burn and tearing it did a good job and for that I’m grateful – to Mother Nature, the women who cultivated this and Valerie Widmann who offered it at a coincidental time.
10ml Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil €24.95/£19.57