Being a huge fan of fresh aloe pulp, it was only a matter of time before I decided to put cactus on my face to control oil while still keeping my skin hydrated and glowing. Accidentally stumbling upon a cactus leaf was the highlight of a rather boring/grueling/painful grocery trip with my roommate. You see, I personally find any kind of shopping with someone else as excruciating as getting my teeth cleaned and a pap smear simultaneously while listening to Donald Trump speak on a loop. Yes, y'all, it's that serious. Right when I was about to hightail it out of the third grocery store, I literally bumped into a box of cactus leaves. I picked one up, sniffed it (like a crazy person) and decided to make my DIY beauty dreams come true.
New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner told Elle.com that the insides of a prickly cactus can prevent moisture loss and restore moisture in skin. Add that tidbit of info to the fact that cactus has 17 amino acids and antioxidants that can prevent damage from the sun? Sounds like an anti-aging ingredient that's honestly tempting me to move to a desert climate.
As a bonus, just like aloe vera, cactus leaf has also been known to alleviate mild cramps. Combining these two super ingredients can make for an awesome hair or face pack that isn't likely to irritate your skin. Don't be fooled by the prickly nature of a cactus, these recipes won't hurt one bit!
1. Choose The Best Cactus Leaf
To choose your cactus leaf for your DIY beauty pleasure, you'll need to find a specialty food store; I was able to grab my cactus leaf at a random bodega with a healthy supply of produce. Choose a cactus leaf that is green all over and tender, but not overly floppy.
2. Prepare Your Cactus
Preparing the cactus was slightly overwhelming. It took only one prick of a cactus for me to realize you'll need some gloves for this job. After washing my leaf with cold water, I peeled only the bumpy areas with the assumption that a thorn was underneath and left some of the skin on my leaf.If you've got yourself a fat cactus, I would advise only using the pulp and ditching the cactus skin all together just like you would with aloe vera.
3. Get Your Cactus Game On
Now that your cactus is ready for use, you can blend it up for future use to add to other ingredients or use it directly on your face. If you're a regular DIY-er, know that cactus acts similar to aloe in a slimy-yet-soothing fashion for your face. I recommend testing your cactus on this inside of your arm to make sure it's right for you.
4. Make An Acne Fighting, Oil Control Mask
Obviously, I'm trying to use my cactus for a killer face mask that will keep acne at bay and my skin glowing through the dark winter mornings. For this one, I used one tablespoon of raw honey, one teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, about a tablespoon each of aloe vera, and cactus. Use a blender to mix your ingredients together and viola! A new face mask is born. My face felt very soft afterwards and, since I used raw honey, the mask gently exfoliated my skin as well. This cactus mask felt great, but I'd recommend making small batches, as it tends to get pretty smelly pretty quickly.
According to sources at Biomanantial.com, cactus leaf can be the business for your hair and they included a pretty enticing cactus hair recipe in the same article. Just one cactus leaf and a dash of sweet almond oil can give you a spa-like hair mask in 20 minutes. Mine was soft and shiny as could be after giving it a try.
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (6)