Many natural skincare ingredients are pretty self-explanatory. It doesn’t take an expert, for example, to deduce that avocado oil comes from avocados or that calendula extract is sourced from calendula flowers. Other ingredients, like cica, are less clear. Often used in formulations for sensitive skin, cica—a shorthand way of referring to Centella asiatica, a plant native to Southeast Asia and Oceania—has been celebrated for its soothing properties for centuries, if not longer. But it wasn’t until recently that the powerful ingredient became a household name, thanks to the surge in popularity of cica-creams.
If you’re not familiar with Centella asiatica or how it benefits the skin, you’re in luck. We’re going to explain it all ahead. Here, you’ll learn what Centella asiatica is and what makes it so beneficial for irritated, sensitive skin. We’ll also introduce you to our best cica-cream and two additional formulations starring this powerful, skin-soothing ingredient. Keep reading for your Kiehl’s guide to cica skincare.
What Is Centella Asiatica?
Centella asiatica, also known as tiger grass, Gotu Kola, or simply “cica,” is a type of herb that grows primarily in wet, swampy regions throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific. It has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy to help relieve skin concerns like irritation and dryness. These days, it is most commonly found in skincare products designed for sensitive skin and is the primary ingredient in so-called cica-creams.
How Cica-Cream Benefits Sensitive Skin
As a refresher, sensitive skin is a skin type characterized by the frequent presence of uncomfortable symptoms like stinging, burning, and itching. Sensitive skin may also appear red and flaky. It affects up to 38% of the population, by some accounts, and is generally believed to be more common amongst women than men. For those with sensitive skin, even gentle skincare products can be irritating. Experts believe that sensitive skin ultimately results from a poorly functioning skin moisture barrier. Using mild products that can help protect and strengthen the skin barrier—like cica-cream or cica balms—may help to improve the look and feel of sensitive or irritated skin.
Centella Sensitive Cica-Cream
Our Centella Sensitive Cica-Cream is our gentlest moisturizer, well-suited even for the most sensitive skin. The hypoallergenic face cream contains Centella asiatica extract as well as cocoa butter, shea butter, and glycerin. It sinks into the skin easily, providing 48-hour hydration to help keep the skin feeling moisturized and protected. The highly effective formula is clinically-demonstrated to help repair the natural moisture barrier of compromised skin while also helping to protect the skin from further damage.* With regular use, the rich moisturizer visibly reduces redness, fine lines, and other signs of irritation to reveal stronger, healthier-looking skin over time.
Most importantly, the ultra-mild formula is carefully formulated to suit even the most sensitive skin. While it is impossible to guarantee that a formula will never cause sensitivity, we carefully selected ingredients and designed a stringent testing protocol to confirm that our cica-cream is efficacious yet gentle. We tested our formula around the world on over 300 people with 100% self-reported sensitive skin to ensure that our Cica-Cream is allergen-free.
*Based on an instrumental test of the skin barrier and clinical grading in an 8-week study. Tested for tolerance on subjects with self-perceived sensitive skin.
How To Use Cica-Cream In Your Routine
Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser
Before reaching for our cica-cream, you’ll want to make sure your skin is clean and free of irritating impurities. You can wash your face with Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser, a unique liquid cleanser made with Centella asiatica extract and glycerin. The ultra-mild, pH-balanced formula helps remove dirt, excess oil, and other debris without causing discomfort or irritation. At the same time, the fragrance-free cleanser helps soothe and strengthen the skin’s natural moisture barrier and provides lasting hydration to help keep your skin feeling comfortable.
In formulating this cleanser, we consulted with dermatologists and tested the product on 100% sensitive skin to ensure its safety and gentleness.* You can use it as you would a normal cleanser—that is, wet your skin and massage a small amount of the liquid over your face—or simply dispense the soothing wash onto a cotton pad and swipe it over your face for an ultra-gentle, rinse-free cleanse.
*Tested for tolerance on subjects with self-perceived sensitive skin.
While we’d normally recommend using a toner and serum after cleansing, if your skin is highly irritated, you may prefer to skip those steps for the time being. Instead, after washing your face, reach for your cica-cream to round out your routine. Smooth a generous amount over your face and neck and allow the rich treatment to sink into your skin (no need to rub it in too vigorously; it’ll absorb all on its own).
If you like the benefits of cica-creams but prefer a lighter moisturizer, try Skin Rescuer instead. Like our cica-cream, this soothing formula contains Centella asiatica extract. It also contains ceramides, which are an essential component of your skin’s natural moisture barrier. The lightweight formula instantly comforts and helps repair the skin barrier, leaving your skin less susceptible to the effects of daily stressors. It also delivers all-day hydration to help restore your skin’s radiant, healthy appearance. You can wear this ultra-light hydrator alone as your go-to moisturizer, or apply a thin layer before reaching for our cica-cream for an added dose of moisture.
Kiehl’s Tip: We know you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating. Sunscreen is a must—every day, all year round. If you’re highly sensitive, try a mineral sunscreen like Super Fluid Daily UV Mineral Defense. It’s suitable for sensitive skin and provides protection against UVA and UVB rays to help keep your skin looking and feeling its best.