Beauty Se­crets of the Desert

Hold back the sands of time with th­ese ex­otic in­gre­di­ents


The plants that mys­te­ri­ously thrive in the desert have evolved and adapted to ex­treme tem­per­a­tures and dry­ness in or­der to sur­vive. Th­ese re­silient prop­er­ties make them rich in hy­drat­ing in­gre­di­ents and pro­tec­tive an­tiox­i­dants, ideal in­gre­di­ents for heal­ing skin, hair, and scalp prod­ucts.

“The plants that thrive in the Sono­ran Desert, in par­tic­u­lar, are prickly, gnarly, and tough, but this is ex­actly what makes them so ideal for skin­care,” says Christina Ma­har, founder of Sia Botan­ics, based in Tuc­son, Ariz. “In or­der to sur­vive the ex­treme tem­per­a­ture changes of the Sono­ran Desert, which range from well be­low freez­ing to well above 120 de­grees, the plants in this re­gion have cre­ated adap­ta­tions. Th­ese in­clude su­per- con­cen­trated nu­tri­ents, strong sun pro­tec­tion, phe­nom­e­nal an­tiox­i­dant and anti- infl am­ma­tory ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and a per­fect bal­ance of trace min­er­als to hold mois­ture in and main­tain cel­lu­lar health.

“The bal­ance of trace min­er­als in­side and out­side of a skin cell is what keeps the cell wall from heat­ing and de­te­ri­o­rat­ing. A cool cell is round and plump. Many mis­shapen cells equal wrin­kling, lines, and loss of elas­tic­ity. One of the rea­sons that cacti live for thou­sands of years is be­cause of this trace min­eral bal­ance and the slow­ing of cell de­te­ri­o­ra­tion.”

Desert- dwellers with dis­tinc­tive beau­ti­fy­ing benefi ts in­clude:

Prickly Pear Cac­tus

The su­pe­rior an­tiox­i­dant and hy­drat­ing prop­er­ties of this plant help pre­vent fi ne lines and wrin­kles. Ac­cord­ing to Ma­har, “The fruit from this cac­tus con­tains the high­est lev­els of bete­lains of any plant on earth. Bete­lain is a su­per an­tiox­i­dant and anti- infl am­ma­tory that is re­spon­si­ble for its rich, deep fuch­sia red and pur­ple color. The red and pur­ple tones of beets, pomegranates, açai, and cran­ber­ries come from this an­tiox­i­dant, and are the rea­son they have such a healthy rep­u­ta­tion.” TIP: “Prickly pear juice, which can be found in some health food stores, is a great anti- infl am­ma­tory and an­tiox­i­dant drink for your skin and over­all health, but don’t ap­ply this juice di­rectly to your face. The pH is very al­ka­line and will prob­a­bly make you break out. This is one in­gre­di­ent that you will want to buy blended into a skin­care prepa­ra­tion,” says Ma­har.


Jo­joba oil comes from the seeds of this desert plant, and is packed with an­tibac­te­rial and anti- infl am­ma­tory prop­er­ties. Sim­i­lar to the se­bum that the body nat­u­rally pro­duces, jo­joba oil is light and ab­sorbs quickly. “Jo­joba doesn’t just hy­drate, it also helps bal­ance both oily and dry skin. Jo­joba oil also has the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of squa­lene of any plant, which is ex­tremely hy­drat­ing.” TIP: “Jo­joba is ex­pen­sive, and many com­pa­nies only use a lit­tle jo­joba and lots of cheaper oils in prod­ucts that they la­bel jo­joba oil or jo­joba cream. To get the full benefi t, make sure that jo­joba is the fi rst oil listed in the in­gre­di­ents,” notes Ma­har.


Sage has the abil­ity to clar­ify skin, bal­ance oil, and bat­tle bac­te­ria, all with­out dry­ing your skin. “Many skin prod­ucts for men con­tain sage be­cause of its clean smell, plus it helps con­trol in­grown hairs by in­creas­ing cel­lu­lar turnover and con­trol­ling bac­te­ria,” she says.

Aloe Vera

Known for its abil­ity to soothe and heal cuts and burns, as well as mois­tur­ize, aloe vera can be ap­plied di­rectly to the skin. “Pure aloe leaves a slightly tacky feel so this works best if you use it like a mask,” adds Ma­har.

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