If you’re a big K-Beauty (Korean skincare) buff, then you’re no stranger to cica, an oft-used hero ingredient in some of your favorite products. But the calming, rejuvenating, skin barrier-strengthening plant is gaining popularity outside of solely Korea-based skincare. Formally known as centella asiatica, and casually known as gotu kola, Indian pennywort, and tiger grass, this nourishing warrior can help anyone’s skin feeling in need of a reset.
“If you have a weak skin barrier, you’re unable to keep the good stuff in, like all your topical products,” SKINESQUE founder Susie Yoon tells IPSY. “And on the flipside, it won’t keep the bad stuff out. Cica also helps with moisture retention. It aids damaged skin and intensively soothes and improves all skin types, especially sensitive skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties that make it ideal for reducing redness and speeding up healing, which can benefit sunburns, rosacea, or eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. It’s also great for post-facial treatments.”
A compromised skin barrier (irritated skin) leads to moisture loss and dryness, which leads to a slew of additional skin concerns. “When skin is dehydrated, it looks dull, and wrinkles are emphasized,” Yoon explains. “Dehydrated skin can lead to acne, dark undereye circles, and dry, itchy skin. Although cica will aid all skin types, it’s important to note that it’s gentle enough for even the most sensitive and redness-prone skin types, making it a versatile ingredient.”
Keep reading to up your skincare routine, and start using our favorite cica cream formulations designed for sensitive skin. Added bonus? You don’t have to travel to Asia to get your hands on these heavy hitters—and most are fragrance-free.
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Whether you’re dealing with a breakout, sunburn, or general wear and tear brought on by environmental stressors, this hero product from SKINESQUE is here to save the day. Thanks to soothing cica and protecting, strengthening ceramides (along with a handful of additional gentle, hydrating ingredients), moisture is locked into the skin, allowing it to repair and look healthy again. “When our in-house chemists and dermatologists formulated our Moisture-Lock Cream, we decided to make more than half of the product with cica because of its ability to deeply replenish dry and fatigued skin,” Yoon says.
We know better than anyone that retinol can be irritating. Thanks to the inclusion of cica in this affordable buy from brand new skincare brand NURIVE, we love that sensitive skin can be protected from redness and peeling. This gives retinol the opportunity to focus on what it does best: target fine lines and wrinkles.
When our skin looks like vacation hit it a bit too hard, we turn to this all-star from one of our favorite brands aimed at the 40+ community. We like to think of this as green juice for our skin, thanks to its recharging and rebalancing properties. Powered by skin-boosting niacinamide, the lightweight formula helps balance oil while evening out skin tone and texture. Cica then helps soothe, while succinic acid revives the natural glow from within.
If “dehydrated” is the one word you’d use to describe your skin, this is the product for you. BELIF is beloved for its all-star cica products, and this is no exception. But rest assured, your skin won’t be overwhelmed with a thick formula. The ultra-lightweight, water-based gel-cream instantly cools and refreshes skin while helping minimize the appearance of pores.
If you’re looking to explore cica a bit more, JOAH has an entire line devoted to the standout ingredient at a competitively accessible price point. Their primer, in particular, is a multi-hyphenate that can serve as a precursor to a makeup routine, while also acting as a calming, cooling, blurring product we often even wear solo for a “soft-focus” effect.
If this skincare product looks familiar, it’s probably because it’s the classic that put cica on the map. A cult favorite, this green-to-beige cream camouflages red or inflamed skin, while doubling as a sunscreen.
A moisturizer that targets breakouts? We’re obviously in! This lightweight formula is aimed at acne-prone skin, thanks to a blend of hydrating and healing skincare ingredients, including cica, five types of hyaluronic acid, tea tree oil, centella, and aloe vera. We turn to this heavy-hitter when we want to eliminate shine, control excess sebum production, and deliver hydration and healing to our dry, irritated spots.
We live for a good multi-hyphenate, and this versatile must from BOSCIA is a standout in our skincare collection. We love that it refreshes our face with nutrients and hydration (thanks to cica, ceramides, and ginger root extract), while acting equally effective on our full body (think sunburns or other skin sensitivities). We slather it on like lotion after a bath or shower to really fulfill our hydration needs.
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