What is centella asiatica? Everything to know about cica skincare

Our guide to centella asiatica lays out everything you need to know about the benefits of cica for skin

close-up of pastel turquoise cream/paste to signify skincare cream
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

Get the 101 on centella asiatica in this Skincare 101—our comprehensive skincare dictionary of every ingredient that you need to know about.

One of the biggest beauty buzzwords of the moment is centella asiatica—also commonly known as cica—which is popping up in more and more skincare products around the world. 

Once you’ve nailed the correct skincare routine order, the next step is to find the products that are best suited to your skin type and main concerns. So if you struggle with irritation or redness, or simply like a soothing product every once in a while, then cica is definitely one to have on your radar.

If you’re already a fan of the best Asian and Korean skincare products then you may have already heard of the plant centella asiatica, as it's been popular in skincare for years. For the uninitiated, here’s what you need to know about it...   

What is centella asiatica?

Native to tropical and subtropical regions, centella asiatica is also sometimes referred to as Gotu Kola, cica, Asiatic pennywort or tiger grass. It’s long been used in ancient medicine and has the latter nickname because wild tigers will often roll in it to help heal wounds when injured.

“Centella Asiatica is an antioxidant-rich herb packed with amino acids, flavonoids and other natural bioactive substances,” says Dr Kemi Fabusiwa, aka Dr Fab, skin expert and ambassador for The INKEY List. "Its main properties include its ability to hydrate the uppermost layer of skin, reduce transepidermal water loss and reduce inflammation. It is also used to help improve the tightness of the skin."

What are the benefits of centella asiatica for skin?

As we've mentioned, centella asiatica is widely used in skincare thanks to its anti-aging capabilities to keep skin looking youthful. The benefits of this seeming miracle plant don't stop there, though. Research has also shown that centella asiatica can contribute significantly to the development of healthier, more moisturized skin.

The NIH reports, regarding a study of the effect of one of centella asiatica’s main antioxidants, madecassoside, combined with vitamin C on the skin: "Six-month treatment resulted in a significant improvement in firmness, elasticity, and skin hydration, which was confirmed by appropriate biometeorological tests". And as if these antioxidant benefits weren't enough, they also help brighten skin tone by preventing skin discoloration due to exposure to the sun.

skincare products

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's also important to note another component of centella asiatica that contributes to healthy skin: amino acids. As the building blocks of all proteins in our bodies, they play a crucial role in our overall health and wellbeing, including that of our skin.

They serve an important hydrating function for our skin by pushing moisture below the surface, as well as by improving water retention. Even more important for those fighting sagging skin, they also play a key role in the production of collagen and the repair of damaged cells.

How to add centella asiatica to your skincare routine

If you want to add centella asiatica to your skincare routine, it's very easy to spot on the outer packaging, either splashed across the front or within the ingredients (INCI) list.

You'll find it in all manner of skincare products, from cleansers to face masks, but you're most likely to reap its soothing benefits in products that are absorbed into the skin, like serums and and the best moisturizers. Here are a few picks to shop now. 


Dr.Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Re.Pair Cream

RRP: $49/£36 for 50ml

A color-correcting moisturizer that adapts to your skin tone and helps to reduce redness and soothe inflammation. 


Caudalie Vinosource-Hydra Moisturizing Mask

RRP: $39/£24 for 75ml

Like a tall glass of water for parched skin, Caudalie's moisturizing mask contains soothing cica in its formula. 


The INKEY List Madecassoside Mask

RRP: $9.99/£8.99 for 50ml

This mask contains that aforementioned antioxidant found in centella asiatica to soothe and calm stressed-out skin. 

With its numerous beneficial properties for your anti-aging skincare routine, centella asiatica is an ingredient to keep your eye on. Truly an oldie but a goodie!

Aleesha Badkar
Former Deputy Editor at My Imperfect Life

Aleesha was Deputy Editor and Beauty & Fashion Editor for My Imperfect Life, where she headed up the beauty, fashion and eCommerce pages. Previously she was Shopping Writer at woman&home and gained an AOP awards nomination after working on their news team. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 and has since worked with a number of brands including, Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto. When she’s not testing all the new beauty & lifestyle products on the market, Aleesha spends her time soaking up the newest bestsellers and Netflix releases, watching everything Marvel, learning about different wines, attempting new languages and traveling as much as she can.