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Obviously downing H2O is priority number one when it comes to keeping our health in check, but it’s no secret that coconut water has been the holy-grail health drink for a while. It’s ranked supreme among experts as one of the best beverages to chug after a crazy workout. But this health drink du jour has a contender you need to know about. If you’re down to try your next best answer to glowing skin, be sure to acquaint yourself with cactus water.
Cactus water is a plant-based beverage derived from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus and packed with incredible health and skin benefits. Think coconut water, but even better. There, we said it. Cactus water is typically made with half the calories and sugar than lots of coconut water products sold on the market. But this under-the-radar drink isn’t just another concoction that claims to work wonders only to disappoint you. We have proof that this stuff is the real deal. We called on four experts to give us the lowdown on all the reasons everyone should stock their fridge with this succulent drink that may be the secret to stunning skin.
Cosmetic chemist and 100% Pure founder Susie Wang explains its magic: “Whereas the majority of water passes through our system, cactus water is much better absorbed in our bodies and retained through our thirsty skin cells, nerves, muscles, organs, and other tissues. It’s also full of electrolytes, which give us glowy skin, better sleep, and more energy, and help women cramp less.”
Dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, is also a proponent of cactus water because of its incredible health benefits. “As a drink, cactus water boasts benefits including fighting free radical damage, damage from UV/UB rays, and pollution because it contains taurine. Taurine is a very potent and dense antioxidant that reduces inflammation and detoxifies your skin,” Engelman says. “In addition, it contains vitamins B and C, calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron that can help boost your immune system.”
Dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, believes that drinking cactus water is one of the best anti-agers to incorporate into your diet: “The skin benefits are derived from a high number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. These help decrease puffiness and redness in the skin while concurrently hydrating without adding excess sugar. Ultimately, there’s no such thing as miracle anti-aging sources yet, but with its collection of skin-boosting vitamins and antioxidants, cactus water is leading the pack.”
One of the best decisions we can make for our skin is staying hydrated, and drinking cactus water provides the moisture your cells need to function properly: “When consumed, cactus water is a natural source of electrolytes, which the body requires to remain properly hydrated. Hydration is essential to healthy and supple skin,” Engelman says.
When To Drink It
Registered nutritionist and dietitian Amy Shapiro of Real Nutrition New York recommends keeping cactus water nearby if you’re hungover or sick, but especially if you’re working out. “Since it has electrolytes and a little sugar, it will replenish your fluids, and the hydration will keep you going. Cactus also contains the amino acid taurine, which can help repair muscle tissue damage that occurs during exercise. Like almost anything with electrolytes, cactus water can aid during workouts, hangovers, or illnesses such as stomach bugs or common colds to keep you hydrated,” says Shapiro.
Engelman even suggests it to her patients as a great replacement for coffee when they’re in need an energy boost. “The anti-inflammatory properties will help with muscle recovery after a workout and can reduce chronic inflammation associated with skin diseases like rosacea, psoriasis, and acne."
In addition to drinking water, try cactus water instead of coffee for an afternoon pick me up.
Cactus Water vs. Coconut Water
“There are some extra benefits to cactus over coconut,” Shapiro explains. “Cactus water has a better flavor. There are fewer cactus water brands, so it’s easier to navigate true and healthy options. It’s lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants, so that’s better for your health and skin. Additionally, it’s lower in carbs and sugar than most coconut water brands.”
Additional Beauty Uses
According to Nazarian, topically applying cactus water in oil form works wonders for your skin. “It works like many other facial oils to hydrate your skin due to its high fatty acid content. The real benefit is that it helps prevent water loss throughout your skin, so your skin will retain hydration for longer periods of time.”
Wang takes a more DIY approach and puts her cactus water in a spray bottle to mist her skin throughout the day. “I also put cotton pads soaked in cactus water in my fridge and put them on my eyes in the morning—it helps with my puffy eyes. I also love using cactus water as a toner. My facial oil is better absorbed on my dampened skin after I’ve applied cactus water.”