Beauty From The Desert: Yucca, Agave, Prickly Pear & Even Cactus Bristles

I love the desert and you should, too.
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Wendy
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I love the desert and you should, too.

When I moved to Phoenix, I only planned to stay for a brief time. A year tops. And here I am, four years later, and you want to know why I'm still sweating it out every summer and dealing with weird things like brooding haboobs and wiry chollas that practically jump out at you as you stroll down the sidewalk? Because I fell in the love with the desert, that's why. Like, me and the desert, we're pretty intimate.

arizona desert plants
arizona desert sunset

Hiking the local foothills is a favorite pastime, even though I'm really bad at it. I particularly enjoy going with my grandmother, who points out all the different vegetation and wildlife. Another favorite is driving deep into the middle of nowhere to explore the terrain, watch the sunset, or sit around a smoldering campfire.

Being surrounded by the seamlessly never-ending Earth makes you feel like the most insignificant creature. In fact, one of the most profound moments of my life occurred on a desert trek several years ago. I remember the scent of creosote and dirt swirling around me as I laid back and watched the sky melt from a creamy purple into a deep navy. All of a sudden, staring up into the glittery canvas above me, I became so aware of how small I was. I instinctively reached out beside me to grab the dirt, as if I had to hold to the Earth lest I float away. I know it's kind of a hippie recollection, but it was liberating. And the feeling is addictive!

arizona desert cactus

Though many think of the desert as a homogenous blob of pale brown, it has a lot to offer by way of wildlife and inspiring sights. To demonstrate my affection for the good ol' Sonoran desert, I've gathered these beauty products that incorporate ingredients from right here in my backyard.

Shea Moisture Organic Yucca & Baobab Anti-Breakage Masque

shea moisture organic yucca and baobab anti-breakage masque

Yucca is a funny-looking plant with an edible root that's abundant around the Sonoran desert. Not only is it delicious, it also has some amazing properties for beauty uses. The yucca in this $13 Shea Moisture Masque--which smells incredible, BTW--helps to strengthen, thicken, and soften your hair. There's an entire line of the Yucca & Baobab products, which includes a Thickening and Soothing Milk and Thickening Moisture Mist.

Bioelixia Pure Cactus Bristle Brush

bioelixia pure cactus bristle brush

I was a little nervous about the prospect of massaging my body with cactus bristles--feisty things that they are--but the bristles on this brush are the perfect balance of soft and sturdy. The $18 brush helps exfoliate skin (something you really need in dry climates, am I right?) and supposedly reduces the appearance of cellulite and improves muscle tone. I haven't used it enough to notice a difference in that department, but it does feel good to use this bad boy.

Mychelle Dermaceuticals Hydrating Cactus Mask

mychelle dermaceuticals hydrating cactus mask

This vegan hydrating mask for dehydrated skin is loaded with prickly pear cactus and blue agave to soothe and protect. If you're feeling up to it, I totally recommend wearing this overnight, which is how I've been using it. It smells delicious and isn't sticky or gross-feeling, so it's easy to wear while you slumber. When you wake up and wash your face in the morning, let's just say you'll be glowing as bright as the desert sun (terrible, I know).

La Bella Figura Pure Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil

la bella figura pure organic barbary fig seed oil

Speaking of prickly pear, let's talk about this Pure Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil. Barbary figs are another name for prickly pears, the plump, fuchsia fruits that grow on paddle cacti. Like yucca, they're both edible and good for topical uses. It's a little pricey at $90, but this stuff is as pure as it gets. Prickly pear seed oil is an impressive source of vitamin E, linoleic acid (a fatty acid) and betalains, which means it slays free radicals, stimulates cell growth, and soothes while nourishing. You can use it on your skin, hair, nails, face--pretty much anywhere.

If you prefer a fusion serum, the Kypris Beauty Elixer III could be a good fit. It's $150 and contains prickly pear seed oil, Kaneka CoQ10, vitamin C, baobab oil, kukui oil, and rosehip.

  • Are you intrigued by any of these desert beauty products enough to give them a try? 
  • Are there any cool, lesser-known beauty ingredients found in your neck of the woods?