This post may contain affiliate links.
Centella asiatica extract is the new skin care ingredient everyone is talking about, and if you have sensitive skin then you’ll definitely want to listen! Also known as gotu kola, Indian pennywort, cica or tiger grass, centella asiatica extract is gaining traction for its skin soothing properties.
No matter whether your skin is oily, dry or somewhere in between, you might still find yourself suffering from redness or inflammation. This can be situational – summer is here, and maybe you forgot your sunscreen on a particular day, or you might be suffering from a skin condition like rosacea. No matter the reason, centella asiatica extract might be the best thing for clearing your skin from redness.
We’ve selected the best centella asiatica skin care products to heal, nourish, and soothe your skin. We explain what centella asiatica is, exactly, and even go over all of its benefits. We address any concerns you might have regarding gotu kola side effects, and then finish things off with an explanation of how to choose the right centella asiatica skin care products for you.
Cica/ Centella Asiatica Skin Care Guide: Contents
- 13 Best Tiger Grass/ Centella Asiatica Skin Care Products
- What Is Centella Asiatica?
- Centella Asiatica Benefits for Skin
- Does Centella Asiatica Have Side Effects?
- Choosing the Right Centella Asiatica Product for Your Skin
1. Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Re.Pair Serum
This is the brand that started the craze, and for a good reason – their variety of cica products work exceptionally well. This potent soothing serum is formulated with centella asiatica extract, water, and stem cell culture, as well as with its various synthesized components. There is also niacinamide in the mix along with a variety of hydrators. No matter the reason for inflammation, this serum should be a good fit. You can find it at Sephora.
2. PureHeals Centella 90 Ampoule
This incredible little skin ampoule is comprised of 90% centella asiatica extract. This is an exceptional dose of the skin-soothing extract that will quickly alleviate signs of sensitivity. It comes in the form of a gel that sinks into the skin quickly and works for all skin types. The remaining 10% of the formula include other skin favorites like niacinamide, borage oil, and hyaluronic acid. Buy it from Ulta!
3. 111SKIN Nocturnal Eclipse Recovery Cream NAC Y2
This night cream will nourish your skin and restore it overnight, helping to reverse the damaging effects of pollution and a dry environment. It has a rich texture that is ideal for dry skin and normal skin, though it sinks in quickly and won’t aggravate acne or oiliness. In addition to soothing centella asiatica, it also contains potent anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid, retinyl palmitate, and acetylcysteine. It is available at Nordstrom.
4. iS Clinical Hydra-Cool Serum
This serum will refresh your skin and make you feel calm, cool and collected. It’s the perfect way to soothe the skin when it gets hot from irritation or sunburn, though it also has benefits as a daily serum. In addition to the healing centella asiatica constituents, it also contains hyaluronic acid to give intense hydration. There is a touch of menthol in the skin, which provides the cooling effect, but may not work for everyone. Order it online from Dermstore!
5. Kiehl’s Since 1851 Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser
Centella asiatica extract is the magic ingredient that turns this cleanser from simple and non-irritating to super skin-calming. This creamy cleanser is on the lighter side of things, perfect as the second step in dual cleansing or as a morning cleanser, with a pH-balanced formula that can be rinsed off or just wiped off without water. You can order it from Ulta.
6. Lancer Skincare Lift & Plump Sheet Mask
This anti-aging sheet mask will get your skin feeling firm and plump. The first ingredient is ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid, followed by refreshing rose water. There’s enough centella asiatica to really calm the skin, while the big anti-aging hits come from Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3 and licorice root extract. Despite the major ingredients, this mask can be used by people with any skin type and at any age. You can get it at Nordstrom.
7. CosRx Cooling Aqua Facial Mist
Use this face mist any time of day for a calming hit of centella asiatica. This light and hydrating liquid can be used after cleansing and before moisturizing, or as a dose of hydration throughout the day. In addition to gotu kola, it also contains the healing madecassoside synthesized from it. Its list of hydrators is a long one that includes butylene glycol and aloe vera. A touch of bergamot and lemon peel oil make it a very refreshing formula. It is sold online though Revolve.
8. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster
This time-release serum slowly infuses the skin with hydration courtesy of hyaluronic acid chronospheres. It gives comprehensive nourishment, since it also contains barrier-restoring ceramides and centella asiatica, along with linoleic acid and chamomile to calm down redness and irritation. It contains a touch of glycolic acid so it does resurface the skin gently, in a way that is ideal for sensitive and dry skin. Grab it from Sephora!
9. Verso Skincare Intense Facial Mask
This super anti-aging gel mask combines the soothing effects of centella with the fine line-fading effects of retinyl retinoate, a new, gentle version of retinol. The mask itself is very hydrating, infusing the skin with moisture in a way that will work for all skin types. You can buy it in a pack of 4 at Nordstrom.
10. Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream
Rich and creamy, this moisturizer is perfect for those with dry and normal skin, especially in drier climates. The formula is quite natural, featuring jojoba oil and shea butter to keep the skin soft, with a whole variety of antioxidant-rich plant extracts in addition to the soothing centella. Check it out online at Dermstore!
11. Lancôme Advanced Génifique Sensitive Dual Concentrate Serum
This super effective and highly concentrated serum has remarkable soothing and anti-aging effects. It is loaded with some really powerful antioxidants beyond the centella extract. They include ferulic acid, vitamin E, and a few other plant extracts. The formula also contains barrier-rebuilding ferments and hydrators to keep the skin strong. Get it at Nordstrom!
12. DermaQuest Essential B5 Hydrating Serum
This simple serum is gentle and hydrating, with a small anti-aging boost. The centella asiatica extract in this formula is boosted by the presence of mallow and ivy extracts. The serum also includes glycosaminoglycans, which help support and maintain skin hydration. Find it at Dermstore!
13. Patchology FlashPatch Eye Gels
The eyes can certainly benefit from the soothing effects of tiger grass! If the area around your eyes gets red or itchy occasionally, or if you just need a boost of moisture and antioxidants, then these eye patches are phenomenal. They contain caffeine to tighten and awaken the eye area, along with various hydrators like ferment extracts, glycerin, collagen, and betaine. Pop them on for 5 minutes and you’ll be amazed by their effect! Order them online from Revolve!
Gotu kola is one of the more common names for centella asiatica, along with tiger grass and cica. This plant is native to Asia, where it is particularly happy in swampy areas. Gotu kola has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, and over the years its popularity spread to other East Asian and South East Asian countries.
In traditional medicine, centella asiatica has been used as a skin remedy for a variety of skin ailments, from the mildest ones all the way up to leprosy. It is also said to have a revitalizing effect on the nerves and brain cells and to help with emotional disorders.
The main active constituents of centella asiatica are saponins known as asiaticosides, which are unique to the plant. Preliminary research suggests that these asiaticosides have soothing and healing properties, and anecdotally that seems to be true!
In addition to these saponins, centella asiatica extract contains other beneficial compounds like astringent tannins, nourishing amino acids and antioxidant flavonoids.
While research is still in its infancy and will likely not progress too much since centella asiatica extract cannot be trademarked, what little studies that have been done so far are promising. Combined with the effects that have been reported by the abundance of people using cica products, it seems as though this natural ingredient has some incredible benefits to the skin, especially of those with sensitive skin.
It seems as though there are two ways in which centella asiatica extract is beneficial to those with sensitive skin that can be red, inflamed, irritated, or itchy. The first are the astringent properties of the tannins, which help fight inflammation to reduce swelling, and control itching and pain.
Those with sensitive skin report that using products with centella extract reduced the visible signs of sensitivity in their skin significantly and has also helped with other symptoms like itching or burning.
The second way, in which centella asiatica is beneficial to those with sensitive skin, is through healing and regeneration. This happens thanks to the asiaticosides in the centella asiatica extract – especially madecassoside, which is often synthesized from centella asiatica and used on its own. Madecassoside seems to have a regenerating effect on compromised skin, which can help speed up the healing of damage caused by irritation or inflammation.
The same soothing and repairing properties that make centella asiatica so great for sensitive skin also make it a wonderful acne treatment. One of the most irritating components of acne is the inflamed pimple. The soothing components of tiger grass can reduce the redness and swelling of breakouts very quickly, while the healing properties can help if the skin had been broken due to picking.
Centella asiatica extract contains a lot of flavonoids, which are the same kinds of antioxidants found in green tea. As antioxidants, flavonoids can help neutralize the free radical damage caused by the sun and pollution exposure, leading to more rapid cell death.
The result of this damage is known as extrinsic aging, meaning signs of aging caused by environmental factors rather than genetics. Centella asiatica is a great ingredient for helping to stave off signs of aging, especially if you have sensitive skin.
As with any natural ingredient, it is possible to be allergic to centella asiatica extract. Allergies are quite rare, but it’s better to be careful.
As such it is a good idea to always be in the habit of patch testing products behind your ear or on your arm for a few days before applying something all over the face. Otherwise, centella asiatica is considered safe when applied topically.
Centella asiatica extract is a versatile ingredient that can show up in all kinds of skin care products, although it is most common in serums, moisturizers, and masks. Your reason for needing a product with centella asiatica will influence which product you should choose.
● As always, if you have extremely oily skin you might want to avoid creams and you might instead prefer to use a hydrating serum, mist, or mask with centella asiatica in it, in lieu of a cream moisturizer. Beyond that, most products with centella asiatica extract are great for all skin types!
● If you have chronically sensitive skin then it’d be best to use centella asiatica skin care weekly, and it’d be better to choose a product that stays on the skin rather than something that gets washed off like a cleanser. Whether you opt for a moisturizer or a serum is totally up to you!
● If you only get flare-ups occasionally or if you occasionally experience red, angry breakouts then you can opt for a centella asiatica skin care product that is only used every once in a while. You can keep a centella asiatica mask in the skincare fridge or you can just apply a serum when necessary.
However, there is no harm in using centella asiatica on a daily basis, even if you don’t suffer from signs of sensitivity regularly! After all, it has other long-term benefits for preventing premature aging, and it is usually used in really fabulous formulas that contain lots of other excellent ingredients.
Photos via @xeniaadonts, @alyson_marion, @aliceebblog, @needsandmoods, @jiny_0_