The world is starting to tell us something our ancestors already knew — cactus is a really useful and versatile plant! A wide variety of cacti are native to Latin America, and Indigenous people traditionally utilized them for many things from medicine to hydration, and of course, sustenance. Now, as the world tries to find more sustainable, safe and healthy materials and ingredients to use in the products we consume, some are turning to the prickly plant.
Recently, we’ve been seeing a slew of new and interesting products that are made with or contain cactus, and we’re happy to say, that Latinx innovators are leading the charge. From snacks and tasty beverages to skincare products and fashion accessories, cactus is being used in so many things right now.
Cactus Leather Tote
Designer Mónica Santos Gil has created a beautiful line of vegan leather handbags and accessories that are made from cactus. We love the versatile Agave Triangular Tote which is handmade to order and comes in a variety of colors including this banana yellow, a metallic gold and rich oxblood red among others. Even the lining, which is made of recycled water bottles, is sustainable.
Agave Triangular Tote, $250, available at SantosByMonica.com
Cactus Leather Crossbody
Also from Santos by Monica is this adorable cactus leather crossbody bag. The Lavanda Mini Crossbody, is like a hybrid purse/wallet, and we love its functionality and easy-to-carry size. Like the Agave Triangular Tote, it’s handmade to order and features a recycled lining. Not only that, but this one is totally unisex and would make a great every day or travel bag for just about anyone.
Lavanda Mini Crossbody, $235, available at SantosByMonica.com
We recently tried Nemi Cactus Sticks and despite having no clue what to expect, we took one bite and couldn’t get enough. They come in several flavors including Mexican Lime and Churro Cinnamon, which was surprisingly, our favorite. These yummy cactus-based snack sticks are unbelievably crunchy and perfect for when that sort of craving hits. They also hold up well in lunchboxes and are an ideal snack for kiddos as well.
Nemi Cactus Sticks, $19.99 for six bags, available at NemiNative.com
The Latinx-owned company Nopalera offers a full range of bodycare products made with cactus. The moisturizing botanical bar is a really cool moisturizer that reminds us a bit of those little tubes of cocoa butter we use to use back in the day, but like…way better. It’s a thick, round bar made with plant butters and Mexican botanicals, including cactus that are incredibly hydrating. It smells so good!
Nopalera Moisturizing Botanical Bar, $30, available at Nopalera.co
Nopalera also makes a super-luxurious feeling exfoliating scrub that is made from cactus and various oils including safflower and jojoba oils. In addition to the wild-harvested nopal, it also has a bit of shea butter in it and another indigenous ingredient—annatto seed— which gives it its beautiful color. This one is gentle enough to use all over including your face.
Nopalera Cactus Flower Exfoliant, $32, available at Nopalera.co
Tia Lupita cactus chips are insanely light and crispy, plus they have lots of flavor. Though there is a plain variety, they come in several flavors including chipotle, habanero and salsa verde, which is our personal favorite. They’re delicious straight out of the bag, but perfect dipped in salsa or even as a base for nachos.
Tia Lupita Cactus Chips, $10.99 for two bags, available at Amazon.com
Tia Lupita cactus tortillas are perfect for anyone looking for a gluten-free alternative, but they’re honestly so tasty, we’re sure you’ll love them even if you’re not on a gluten-free diet. The texture is amazing! Plus, they are much lower in calories than traditional corn or flour tortillas. They also contain cassava (yuca) and okra, to balance the texture and flavor, and trust us…it totally works! They also offer a variety that uses cactus and corn.
Tia Lupita cactus tortillas, $30 for 30 tortillas, available at Amazon.com
Cactus Agua Fresca
Latinx-owned brand Honcho, doesn’t make just any canned agua fresca, they make a spiked prickly pear (nopal) agua fresca that is super-delicious and refreshing. Unlike many other lower calorie canned beverages, Honcho is sweetened with all-natural fruit wine instead of straight sugar or sugar alternatives, which works beautifully with the prickly pear and has no aftertaste.
Honcho prickly pear agua fresca, $10.99 for a six-pack, available at CommonCider.com
Nopal is a food source so it makes sense that it can be converted into a supplement that offers all of the nutritional benefits of the prickly pear without having to prepare it (or eat it every single day). Created by Dr. Juan Rivera, whose goal is to combine science and traditional medicine, this nopal supplement is an excellent source of Vitamin C and magnesium and is recommended for improving both the digestive and cardiovascular system.
Dr. Juan nopal supplement, $25, available at MiSantoRemedio.com
These durable cactus leather belts from Black Nopal are all hand-stitched and created with sustainable materials. They feature a classic design that can be worn by men and women alike, they’re bacteria and mildew resistant and easy-to-clean, as well. The belts come in black or green and the hardware is available in three different finishes.
Cactus leather belt, $65, available at BlackNopal.com