How Centella Asiatica Extract Can Help Your Skin

The herb has been used for centuries and has a long list of healing benefits.

Centella asiatica, also known as gotu kola, is an herb native to parts of Southeast Asia and has been used medicinally for centuries upon centuries. 

Extracts from the low, creeping plant can be used to soothe, treat and improve skin and skin conditions. Here's what you need to know about harnessing centella asiatica's soothing properties—including how the plant extract can increase hydration and repair dry, red, irritated skin.

What Is Centella Asiatica?

Centella asiatica has long been used to treat illnesses and heal wounds. The plant extract is an antioxidant-rich, medicinal herb of many names, including:

  • Cica
  • Indian pennywort
  • Gotu kola
  • Tiger grass

Legend says that after being injured, tigers would roll in the plants to heal themselves, which is where the name "tiger grass" originates. 

People in India have used the herb for thousands of years as a medicinal, anti-aging remedy for the skin. And people continue to use the plant extract as an everyday skin saver.

"High concentrations of amino acids, beta-carotene, and fatty acids are what make the herb so beneficial," said Mona Gohara, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

What Does Centella Asiatica Do?

Centella asiatica can help your skin in several ways. Some specialists suggest the plant extract for some skin conditions, mainly if symptoms include redness and roughness. Some conditions that cause those symptoms are psoriasis and eczema.

"The anti-inflammatory properties increase hydration and help soothe and repair dry, red, irritated skin," Shari Marchbein, MD, a dermatologist in New York, explained.

Research has shown that centella asiatica can help wounds heal. However, more research is needed to determine the best dose and way of applying the plant extract. Also, centella asiatica can help treat acne because it helps prevent skin irritation.

Function of Beauty has a skincare line that uses centella asiatica in some of its products. Chiara Butler, a Function of Beauty chemist, said the plant has two skin-beneficial compounds in its chemical makeup: Madecassoside and asiaticoside.

According to Butler, both of those compounds have soothing properties. The compounds can also stimulate collagen production and fight inflammation.

"[Centella asiatica] also boosts circulation and has been shown to increase collagen production, improving skin firmness and elasticity," added Dr. Marchbein.

How Do You Use Centella Asiatica?

You can work the plant extract into almost any step of your skincare routine. It's incorporated into cleansers, toners, serums, and creams.

"I like creams and serums because they sit on the skin for a long time for maximum efficacy," Ni'kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist in New York, said.

Butler added that you could use a centella asiatica cream in the morning, at night, or both. 

It's also worth noting that centella asiatica products are often spiked with a green tint to counteract the redness that comes with an inflamed complexion.

Dr. Gohara recommended applying a centella asiatica balm on top of your retinoid at night. While retinoids can aggravate skin, the centella asiatica may decrease or prevent skin irritation.

A Quick Review

Centella asiatica can help dry, red, irritated, or inflamed skin. It comes from a plant that's been used in Indian medicine for thousands of years and shows promise in wound healing. 

Centella asiatica is also known as cica, gotu kola, tiger grass, and various other names. It's widely available in multiple skin treatments, from moisturizers to toners to creams.

Some skin specialists recommend it to treat redness and irritation with conditions like eczema.

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  4. Arribas-López E, Zand N, Ojo O, Snowden MJ, Kochhar T. A Systematic Review of the Effect of Centella asiatica on Wound HealingInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(6):3266. doi:10.3390/ijerph19063266

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