Centella Asiatica (Cica) seems to be appearing in a whole host of skincare products these days. If you’re a fan of K-Beauty then you’re probably already aware of what it is and how it benefits your skin but have you tried using centella asiatica for acne?
Is it all hype or can it actually help improve the appearance of acne?
We’ve got you covered! Here’s everything you need to know about Centella Asiatica for acne…
What Is Centella Asiatica (Cica)?
Centella Asiatica is a plant native to Southeast Asia that has been used for centuries to improve wound healing and various skin conditions.
Its therapeutic effects are mainly due to the saponins found within the plant (asiaticoside, asiatic acid, madecassoside, and madasiatic acid) but it’s also packed full of antioxidants, fatty acids, and amino acids.
Some of the key benefits of Centella Asiatica include:
- Improved wound healing
- Increased collagen production
- Reduced cellulite
- Prevention of stretch marks
- Increased levels of antioxidants
- Reduced bacteria growth
- Reduced inflammation
- Increased skin hydration
- Reduced skin irritation
- Reduced redness
- Increased protection from UV radiation
You can read about these benefits in more detail here: Benefits of Centella Asiatica.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is caused by multiple overlapping factors:
- Your hormones cause your oil glands to produce too much oil
- Your skin doesn’t exfoliate itself as well as it should do so you get a build up of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin which can clog your pores.
- A specific type of bacteria that lives within your pores (c.acnes – previously p.acnes) feeds off of your oil and, when there is a lot of oil, can multiply rapidly.
- The increase in bacteria causes inflammation which your body senses and sends in white blood cells to kill the bacteria.
Once the white blood cells have killed the bacteria they die and leave behind pus (pus is literally just dead white blood cells). Eventually your body absorbs this pus and the healing process begins.
There are different types of acne that can be classified as either inflammatory or non-inflammatory.
Non-inflammatory acne includes whiteheads and blackheads which form as a result of your pores becoming blocked. If the blockage is exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns a brown/black colour (blackhead) but if it’s not exposed to air then it just appears as a flesh-coloured bump (whitehead).
Inflammatory acne includes papules (red bumps), pustules (red bumps with visible pus), nodules (larger and deeper bumps that may be red or purple), and cysts (larger and deeper red bumps filled with pus). If you have a lot of nodules and cysts, over-the-counter (OTC) skincare may not be enough for you and you may need to see a dermatologist for prescription treatments instead. However, papules and pustules can often be treated effectively with OTC skincare products.
Is Centella Asiatica Good For Acne?
Centella Asiatica is a great skincare ingredient for treating acne as it targets three of the four main causes of acne – oiliness, bacteria, and inflammation. The only thing it doesn’t do is increase skin cell turnover.
Some research has suggested that Centella Asiatica can reduce oil production, prevent acne scars, and reduce overall acne severity. As it is able to increase collagen production, Cica may also be able to treat existing acne scars.
If you’re looking to treat acne scarring as well as existing acne, you could consider using Centella Asiatica alongside vitamin C as both ingredients boost collagen production in slightly different ways. Centella activates certain signalling pathways involved in the collagen production process while vitamin C encourages collagen production and regulates the enzymes that break down collagen.
Research suggests that collagen production is higher when Centella Asiatica and vitamin C are combined together than when either are used alone.
As it speeds up wound healing, Centella can also help your spots and pimples resolve faster as well as preventing new spots from forming.
There are a few other ways that Centella Asiatica can improve acne too.
For example, acne is associated with skin barrier damage and reduced skin hydration. As centella can increase skin hydration and repair your skin’s barrier function, it may help indirectly treat acne too. One of the ways that Centella increases skin hydration is by boosting production of hyaluronic acid, a humectant that draws water into your skin.
Research has also found acne to be associated with reduced levels of antioxidants and increased lipid peroxidation. Application of asiaticoside for one week has been shown to increase skin levels of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, and reduce lipid peroxide levels.
There isn’t a huge amount of research regarding Centella Asiatica for acne. However, the research that is available seems promising. If you would prefer a similar but more tried-and-tested ingredient for acne, you could look at incorporating niacinamide or green tea into your skincare routine (both are fine to use alongside Centella Asiatica).
Check out the best Centella Asiatica products here.
How To Use Centella Asiatica For Acne
Centella Asiatica can be used 1-2x daily but, in order to target all four causes of acne, it should, ideally, be paired with an ingredient that increases skin cell turnover (e.g. retinol or salicylic acid).
An added bonus of combining Centella with retinoids or chemical exfoliants is that it can help reduce the irritation that is commonly experienced when commencing use of these ingredients.
Here’s how an acne routine containing Centella Asiatica could look:
- Cleanse, centella asiatica serum, retinol moisturizer (PM), (sunscreen if AM)
- Salicylic acid cleanser, centella asiatica serum, moisturizer, (sunscreen if AM)
- Cleanser, salicylic acid serum, centella asiatica moisturizer, (sunscreen if AM)
- Cleanser, centella asiatica serum, retinol serum (PM), moisturizer, (sunscreen if AM)
However, there are plenty of other ways that you can incorporate Centella Asiatica into an acne skincare regime.
Summary – Centella Asiatica For Acne
Centella Asiatica appears to be a promising skincare ingredient for acne as it targets three of the main four causes. It can also help strengthen your skin barrier which is often damaged in acne-prone skin. You can get the most out of using Centella Asiatica for acne by combining it with a chemical exfoliant or retinoid.