Those of us with sensitive skin already know that they are wary of trendy ingredients. But there is one that is said to be good especially for sensitive or inflamed skin: Centella asiatica (also known as gotu kola), a leaf plant that is found in parts of China, Japan, India Australia and in the USA .
The plant has a long tradition in traditional medicine and products that contain it have been internationally available for decades. In France, it may be sold as Madécassol Cream named after the centella asiatica extract Madecassoside.
Korean skincare products containing Centella Asiatica are often labeled " cica " indicating that they are intended to soothe irritated skin, such as Neogen Real Cica Pads $ 20 Innisfree Bija Cica Balm $ 25 and Iope Derma Repair Cica Cream 32 USD.
Centella asiatica is also the main ingredient in the cult favorite line Cicapair by dr. Jart (including my personal contact, the Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment) $ 52), as well as the Cicaplast line of La Roche-Posay and the Centella Cica cream of Kiehl $ 43.
So basically everywhere. But can it really help to soothe your skin? And is it ever safe to apply it to skin regularly, which tends to cause bad reactions? We've talked to experts about how much we really know about this fascinating plant – and if it's really a good idea for people with sensitive skin to use it. The effect is based on the potential to calm inflammation and the production of collagen promote, act as an antioxidant and improve skin hydration. "All these features have been reported [anecdotally] but if you look closely at literature, there is not a lot of data at first", Evan Rieder MD, assistant professor at Ronald O. The Perelman Department of Dermatology at the NYU Langone Health reports to SELF.
Most studies on current applications of Centella Asiatica are concerned with laboratory environments or with rat and mouse models. "There is very little in terms of true human data," says Dr. Rieder.
What we have, however, is something "intriguing", Rajani Katta MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Houston, Texas, specializing in sensitivity and allergic reactions, reports SELF.
For example, researchers in a study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry found out earlier this year that they applied Madecassoside to human skin cells that are often involved in acne Bacteria stimulated by Madecassosid reduced the level of inflammation associated with this type of acne. And studies on rats have shown that Centella asiatica can accelerate the wound healing process especially the phase in which collagen is needed to close the wound . In another study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2017, the researchers found that Centella Asiatica is helpful in reducing inflammation in a mouse model of eczema (atopic dermatitis).
There are some data in humans, though they are limited, Dr. Rieder. In a study published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigation Dermatology in 2017, the researchers tested a "fluid" containing hyaluronic acid, glycerol, and Centella asiatica extract on over 20 forearms of women Course of 24 hours. One arm got the fluid, while the other forearm got a control cream. The researchers measured the degree of hydration and water loss during the day. The results showed that the arm receiving the Centella Asiatica fluid had significantly more fluid intake and less water loss compared to participants baseline measurements and control.
This suggests that the liquid containing Centella asiatica effectively improved skin hydration. But that's not the only thing in the liquid – it also contained hyaluronic acid and glycerine, two ingredients we already know to improve the amount of skin moisture. So it's not clear how many of these effects actually caused Centella Asiatica.
"I think it's actually encouraging," says Dr. Katta, "but on the other hand, there just is not enough research to definitely say that it is a different moisturizer for sensitive skin." It is not surprising that Centella Asiatica can promote collagen production. Therefore, there is some interest in using it to combat signs of aging such as wrinkles and photodamage. In a study published in 2008 in Experimental Dermatology researchers had 20 participants with photoaged skin apply a cream with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and madecassoside on face, arm and skin twice daily half of her neck and chest area. They applied a control cream to the other half of their neck and chest area and the other arm. (They used a separate tube for the face so they did not know which cream was in it.)
After a full half year, the researchers found that the participants had significant improvements in wrinkles, firmness, and hydration. However, as the cream contains not only madecassoside but also vitamin C, which we know may have some effects on the photosensitive skin, we can not say with certainty whether the Centella asiatica extract was very helpful.
Another small study on human participants examined whether a cream containing asiaticoside, another Centella asiatica extract, may reduce the appearance of fine lines around the eyes. For the study, published in International Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2008, the researchers had 27 women applied to one eye twice a day for 12 weeks and to a control cream on the other eye. After treatment, the results showed that the wrinkles in the asiaticoside group were significantly lower compared to the control group, suggesting that this extract may help reduce wrinkles around the eyes.
However, it is important to keep in mind that the extracts that the researchers have tested in all of these studies are not necessarily the same ones you find in Cica products on the market, which are not necessarily the same the traditional plant. "The commercially available skin care products use a highly processed extract," says Dr. Katta, and it is always difficult to compare the results of such a thing with those of the natural herbal product.
And ultimately, because There are not clinical trials for every product on the market You simply can not always know what you are really getting.
Should you try Centella Asiatica?
As always, whether or not you should try a product depends on your own skin needs and your willingness to take a small risk. In general, Dr. Rieder and dr. Katta, to opt for better-studied products that are designed to care for dry or sensitive skin, eg. Gentle moisturizers from well known brands such as Cetaphil, CeraVe and Dove. In addition, Dr. Katta examines products with colloidal oatmeal or aloe to soothe the skin, of which we know something more than centella asiatica.
But if you have to experiment, that's fine. You only know that with sensitive skin or diseases such as psoriasis, rosacea or eczema – yes, exactly in the people to whom many of these products relate – the likelihood of responding to skin care products is higher. even those who claim to help with sensitive skin. In fact, there are reports about people who develop contact dermatitis due to the application of centella asiatica Rieder. In view of the sensitivities in this target group, Dr. Ing. Katta, however, is surprised to see so few of these reactions. But, of course, they still pose a potential risk.
If you want to try Centella Asiatica as a remedy for inflamed or sensitive skin, you may want to do a patch test on your inner arm to see if you have a reaction, before you test the product in the whole face. Or, if you have any questions, you can always contact a dermatologist for recommendations on your specific skin problems.
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