Find out why the beauty community is raving about cica, a.k.a. 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.
Cica, also known as centella asiatica, Gotu Kola or Indian Pennywort, is a perennial herb you probably haven’t come across in your backyard. But cica 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 cica?
A small plant that grows only up to six inches in height, cica 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,” cica’s medicinal properties have been well-documented in Chinese medicine and beyond, and cica has been appearing more and more in the food and beverage industry.
When taken internally, cica’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, cica is effective in treating wounds. In a 2012 study, researchers found that cica facilitates the healing of incisions and burns. Cica not only promotes collagen production but also inhibits inflammation that leads to scarring.
Cica is an effective anti-ager
Although some chemical components of cica vary depending on where it comes from, cica 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.
Cica’s high antioxidant level is also noteworthy, and this combined with its ability to promote collagen production is what makes cica a superstar anti-ager. Cica 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 cica induces production of the type 1 collagen, which then helps your skin stay plump and youthful. Cica’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 cica’s skin benefits, you also can’t ignore its anti-inflammatory properties. Madecassic acid is one of the active compounds in cica, 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 cica in the ingredient list.
Cica’s ability to fight inflammation is why K-beauty expert Joan Kim says it’s her go-to ingredient for fading acne. “Cica is a new ingredient that a lot of Korean brands are including in their products,” she told us during an interview with her. “I noticed that all the products that work amazingly on my skin have cica in it.” So if you’re looking for a natural ingredient that fights inflammation and scarring caused by acne, cica is what you should look for.
Thankfully, there are many ways in which you can incorporate cica into your skin care routine. The Troiareuke Cushion Compact contains soothing ingredients like centella asiatica leaf extract to keep skin calm and even throughout the day. The Neogen Real Cica Pads exfoliate without causing irritation thanks to the inclusion of cica, while the Re:p PhytoCELL Cell Revival Cica Cream targets inflammation and dehydration with centella asiatica derivatives madecassoside and madecassic acid. You can also find cica in the Thank You Farmer Back To Relax Soothing Gel Mask, which reduces redness and repairs skin.
Cica is trending in the skin care industry for a good reason: It’s antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging. With so many cica-based products out there, you have a wealth of options when it comes to how you want to incorporate cica into your routine.