Centella asiatica’s been in skincare for a long time, but it’s really getting its time in the spotlight at the moment. What is it and what does it do? Here’s the science behind this trendy botanical ingredient.
What is Centella asiatica?
Centella asiatica, also known as Gotu Kola and Indian pennywort, is a herb that’s been traditionally used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. In some Asian countries the leaves are used in salads and drinks. It looks like this:
What’s in Centella?
Centella asiatica contains a bunch of active ingredients known as terpenoids, which make up around 8% of the weight of the plant. The main four that have been studied for their skincare benefits are asiatic acid, madecassic acid, asiaticoside and madecassoside. They’re sometimes included in a product alone in pure form, or in combination as “Centella asiatica extract”. The terpenoids have very similar activities.
Along with the terpenoids, there are also other components that have skincare benefits: antioxidants, humectant moisturisers and vitamins.
What does Centella do?
Centella is most famous for its healing properties – a lot of Centella products contain the prefix “cica-” which, as a lot of astute readers have informed me, refers to its cicatrising or healing/scar-forming abilities.