If you are a Korean beauty product junkie, you may have seen numerous products featuring something called CICA, but didn’t know what it is, its benefits for skin, or even, how to properly pronounce it. The time has come to learn all you need to know about CICA and why it is taking K-Beauty as well as Western products by storm.
First things first: What is CICA?
CICA, pronounced see-kah, is a shortened term for the Centella Asiatica plant. In some countries it is called Gotu Kola, brahmi, Indian pennywort and Asiatic pennywort. This plant grows in humid parts of Asia, primarily in Southeast Asia, and for hundreds of years has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes. However, because when used medicinally it was effective in treating minor wounds, Korean skincare companies took notice.
In fact, Centella Asiatica is sometimes called “Tiger Grass” because it is said that people noticed tigers would roll around in the plant to heal their wounds. Sure enough, CICA creams became a staple in K-beauty because of CICA’s benefits and efficacy in soothing and healing of irritated skin.
Why is CICA so popular?
The popularity of CICA comes down to how well it works. In addition to being quite effective in anti-inflammatory properties, it also helps strengthen the skin barrier, improve skin elasticity, and has anti-aging properties. Although it is very gentle on the skin, it has proven to be very effective.
The fact that it is so effective is also what created the high demand for CICA skincare in Korea. Here’s an interesting fact: every year Korea gets hit by dust storms, where the air particles create terrible air pollution in the region. The ultra fine PM2.5 dust particles create hazardous air quality conditions and also affect people’s skin, creating irritation and sensitivity. CICA’s popularity grew with Korean skincare companies because not only did demand grow for “sensitive skin” products, but because CICA based products worked well to alleviate symptoms from excessive air pollution.
How does it work?
Centella Asiatica is rich in Madecassoside, a powerful antioxidant, as well as Madacassic Acid, Asiatic Acid and Asiaticoside, which are amino acids that aid in reducing itchiness, soreness, and also help reduce the appearance of acne scars.
These same amino acids also help maintain hydration in the skin. Recent research is also indicating that it may help the appearance of sun damage, which is great for all those of us who didn’t discover the benefits of SPF early enough!
Is it Eco-Friendly?
Many eco-conscious consumers like to know where their skincare products are coming from and whether they are ethically sourced. The good news about Centella Asiatica is that it is able to be grown sustainably and regenerates about every 42 days. Meaning, under the right conditions, once harvested, the plants can continue to grow new leaves and be re-harvested again. CICA grown for pharmaceutical or clinical skincare purposes is cultivated via hydroponics and this also helps avoid any heavy metals pollution in the plants themselves.
Should you try it?
If you are looking to soothe and calm your skin, CICA is a premier ingredient. Those who have sensitive or acne-prone skin are good candidates to try CICA-based skincare. There are indications that it has been safe for use even in test subjects who have mild eczema. As always, patch test the product on your inner arm first. Once you’ve done that you can hit the ground running. There is a plethora of effective CICA products available on the market and our team has hand picked some just for you.