For the past few years, succulents—those fleshy, moisture-packed survivors—have been a recurring feature on our Instagram feeds and in our homes. And with good reason: They’re pleasing to the eye and pretty easy to take care of (well, for some of us). Recently, however, you might have noticed them appearing in a rather unexpected place: your skincare and beauty products.
Succulents, like cacti, prickly pear, and aloe vera, are characterized by their ability to store water, which helps them survive in hot, dry climates. Fortunately for us, the beauty industry has taken note, harnessing this power to help your skin stay plump and hydrated. Hydration isn’t the only benefit of succulent-based products, though: If you’ve ever applied cooling aloe gel to a sunburn and sighed in relief as it soothed your inflamed skin, you know they also have anti-inflammatory properties—as well as antioxidants and healing nutrients like Vitamin E.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite succulent-based beauty products, so you can bring all the benefits of these fascinating plants straight to your bathroom counter.
Garnier Moisture Lock 10-in-1 Leave-In Spray
This leave-in spray uses cactus extract for a whole host of benefits when applied to clean, damp hair post-shower: It moisturizes, adds shine, calms frizz, and even helps protect from heat damage. I’ve been using this on wet hair before bed, and when I wake up it’s silky smooth.
Boscia’s new moisturizer contains “Queen of the Night” cactus extract, along with other fun extracts such as basil leaves, eggplant, and turmeric root, to moisturize skin in the morning and evening. With its pale green hue and gel-like texture, it feels like its been squeezed straight out of a juicy succulent pad. Best of all, it can be used on multiple skin types, from combination to oily to sensitive—and it’s fragrance and color-free.
If you’re unfamiliar with “essence,” a foundational skincare step in the world of Korean beauty, you’re in for a treat. An essence is a silky liquid, like an extra-watery moisturizer, that you apply after cleansing and toning skin, but before layering on your other serums and moisturizer. Huxley’s product contains prickly pear cactus seed to help hydrate and protect your skin. And like all essences, it helps the rest of your products absorb into the skin more easily.
Refresh your dull, dehydrated skin with this facial mist made with thirst-quenching cactus flower and Tibetan ginseng, which helps your skin absorb more oxygen to look brighter and more youthful. This spray is a great one to keep in your overly air-conditioned office or use on a flight to combat that stale, dry plane air. Oh, and it’s fine to spray over your makeup.
After years of matte lipstick monopolizing the beauty aisle, lip gloss is making its triumphant return. And this “lacquer” from Smith & Cult contains Portulaca pilosa (a species of flowering succulent) to moisturize your lips while it glosses them. Plus, it’s vegan! In a bout of remarkable serendipity (or perhaps Smith & Cult’s scientists really knew what they were doing), portulaca pilosais also called “Kiss Me Quick.”
Okay, this one is a “bonus” because while R+Co’s Cactus Texturizing Shampoo is named for the plant and has a gorgeous desert landscape adorning the bottle, it doesn’t actually have cactus in its ingredients. But if you want to beautify your shower shelf, we love this shampoo, which uses Diatomaceous Earth to build texture and remove oil from your hair. For the most rockstar-like hair, skip your conditioner.