Skincare Ingredient Spotlight: Centella Asiatica

Skincare Ingredient Spotlight: Centella Asiatica

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:

Skincare Ingredient Spotlight: Centella Asiatica

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.

Skincare Ingredient Spotlight: Centella Asiatica

 

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.

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Winter Skincare Tip: Overnight Masks

overnight-masks

My skin’s undergone a bit of a change this year compared to last year. It’s always been on the oily side and a bit dehydration-prone, but the dehydration’s gotten worse this year – I’ve stopped taking the oral contraceptive pill for the time being, which means my skin is a bit oilier than usual. At the same time, I’ve also upped my usage of retinol and tretinoin, and AHA and BHA exfoliants and peels, so my skin has dried out from that. All in all, it’s a pretty good recipe for getting combination dehydrated skin, where my nose ends up pretty oily during the day but my cheeks get dry – I’ve even had dry peeling which I’ve never had before, thanks to retinol! It’s taken me a while to get used to these new developments, so I’m going to be blogging about some of the ways I’ve been keeping my skin happy.

The first thing I’ve changed is adding an overnight mask. This is an extra product layered on top of all my other goo. As well as sealing in the goo, it seals in water so it doesn’t evaporate as much overnight. I’ve been looking specifically for oil-based masks for winter, as I’ve found that the water- and humectant-based masks (most of the Asian sleeping masks, like Laneige Water Bank Sleeping Pack) aren’t quite enough to save me from dehydrated skin at the moment.

overnight-masks

My favourite at the moment is Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant Nighttime Miracle Moisturizer. This is a thick, sticky balm with the texture of honey that gets a little runnier once you heat it up in your hands.

elizabeth-arden-eight-hour-protectant

The stickiness makes it a little fiddly to apply, but it stays on much better than the more slippery masks. I’m not a huge fan of the scent although I’m usually a lavender fan – this is a slightly berryish lavender that smells like my hands after pole. Despite the scent, I love how smooth and plump this leaves my skin in the morning! It does contain a little salicylic acid, which might explain the extra smoothness. For a more budget-friendly version, Vaseline works pretty damn well too, though it doesn’t quite have the same skin-smoothing kick for me.

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