Ingredient Spotlight: How Centella Asiatica Extract Fights Acne Inflammation

By August 9, 2017

Find out why the K-beauty community is raving about centella asiatica extract! Since it’s really easy to become overwhelmed when searching for a new product, Ingredient Spotlight is here to break down the basics. Here we’ll teach you how an ingredient works and leave you with product recommendations to help you with your search.

Centella asiatica, also known as Gotu Kola or Indian Pennywort, is a perennial herb you probably haven’t come across in your backyard. But Centella extract has snuck its way to becoming a trendy skin care ingredient in Korean products. Below, we break down everything you need to know about this trending ingredient.

What is Centella asiatica?

A small plant that grows only up to six inches in height, Centella is mainly found in shady and damp areas in many different parts of the world, including India, Sri Lanka, China, South Africa, Mexico, and others. Known as one of the “miracle elixirs of life,” Centella extract’s medicinal properties have been well-documented in Chinese medicine and beyond, and Centella has been appearing more and more in the food and beverage industry.

When taken internally, Centella’s high antioxidant content protects neurons from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It also enhances memory and helps alleviate anxiety and depression by decreasing levels of certain chemicals in the brain such as dopamine.

When applied topically, Centella extract is effective in treating wounds. In a 2012 study, researchers found that Centella extract facilitates the healing of incisions and burns. Centella not only promotes collagen production but also inhibits inflammation that leads to scarring.

Centella is an effective anti-ager

Although some chemical components of Centella vary depending on where it comes from, Centella extract is generally high in skin-benefitting phytochemicals. It’s rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B1 and B2, niacin, and carotene, which combine to brighten skin and fight premature aging.

Centella’s high antioxidant level is also noteworthy, and this combined with its ability to promote collagen production is what makes Centella a superstar anti-ager. Centella has a remarkable level of natural antioxidants, which is comparable to that of rosemary and sage. By the way, Centella leaf extract, as opposed to the extract from its stem and roots, is where you can find the highest level of antioxidants, which is why you commonly see Centella asiatica leaf water in the ingredient list.

A major component of skin aging is the decrease in the amount of type 1 collagen in the dermis, which is the layer between your epidermis and subcutaneous tissue. Asiaticoside found in Centella extract induces production of the type 1 collagen, which then helps your skin stay plump and youthful. Centella’s ability to boost collagen level also has proved the plant to be useful in treating cellulite.

It’s an even better ingredient for acne-prone skin 

When it comes to Centella’s skin benefits, you also can’t ignore its anti-inflammatory properties. Madecassic acid is one of the active compounds in Centella extract, and it’s known to play an important role in suppressing inflammation by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and down-regulating the expression of certain enzymes that lead to inflammation. If your skin is acne-prone and you regularly deal with irritation and redness, make sure to look for Centella in the ingredient list.

Centella’s ability to fight inflammation is why K-beauty expert Joan Kim says it’s her go-to ingredient for fading acne. “Centella is a new ingredient that a lot of Korean brands are including in their products,” she told us during our interview with her back in March. “I noticed that all the products that work amazingly on my skin have Centella in it.” So if you’re looking for a natural ingredient that fights inflammation and scarring caused by acne, Centella is what you should look for. 

Product recommendations:

centella extract

Thankfully, there are many ways in which you can incorporate Centella asiatica extract into your skin care routine. The Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream uses Centella and guaiazulene, an ingredient derived from chamomile oil, to relieve redness and irritation. The Neogen H2 Dermadeca Serum Spray is a super fine mist that allows you to treat your skin to Centella extract at home and on the go. And with the My Skin Mentor Dr. G Brightening Up Sun SPF 42 PA+++, you can have Centella in your daily SPF. Finally, you can pamper your skin with Centella with the Manefit Beauty Planner Mugwort Sheet Mask.

Bottom line:

Centella extract is trending in the skin care industry for a good reason: It’s antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging. With so many Centella-based products out there, you have a wealth of options when it comes to how you want to incorporate Centella into your routine.

+ Have you seen benefits from using Centella asiatica extract? Share your story in the comments!

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