The Best Korean Centella Asiatica Skincare Products

korean centella asiatica skincare products cica creams cosrx best cosrx products best korean acne products acne skincare tips best ingredients for acne

Do you have red and inflamed skin? Perhaps you suffer from acne, eczema or rosacea. Or maybe your skin is struggling with changing seasons and other products you are using on your skin.

There’s an ingredient you should know about that works wonders for soothing and calming red and inflamed skin: Centella asiatica – also known as cica in the skincare world.

Centella asiatica skincare products make up one of the fastest growing Korean skincare categories at the present time. It can therefore be quite overwhelming to know which product to choose. It seems that almost each brand has their own line of cica products!

best korean cica balms
Just some of the Korean cica balms to choose from! Want to know which one is best for your skin? See below!

Mostly you will find Centella products in the form of “cica creams” or “cica balms”, although other products containing Centella also exist (such as toners, serums and sheet masks).

After reading so many positive reviews about cica products, I needed to find out more about this wonderful ingredient! Of course, I want to share everything I found out with you too!

Here are the main questions I wanted to answer in this post:

  1. What is Centella asiatica?
  2. What are the main benefits of Centella Asiatica for skin?
  3. What are the best Korean Centella asiatica skincare products? 

If you don’t have enough time to read this whole article, here’s what I found are the best Korean skincare products containing Centella Asiatica:

TLDR: The 4 Best Korean Skincare Products With Centella Asiatica

Okay, so I read what seems like hundreds of forum threads and blog review posts about Korean skincare products with Centella! I compiled as many details (such as price, ingredients, and ratings) about 11 products which people recommended the most and gave each product a score. I concluded that the 4 products with the highest scores are the best on the market.

If you’re looking to incorporate Centella into your skincare routine – then you should really try one of these 4 products, which I’ve concluded are the best on the market:

  1. Etude House (Soon Jung) – pH 5.5 Relief Toner – available at SokoGlam and Yesstyle
  2. SKIN1004 – Madagascar Centella Asiatica 100 Ampoule – available at Yesstyle and Amazon
  3. A’PIEU – Madecassoside Cream – available at SokoGlam, Yesstyle and Amazon
  4. Innisfree – Bija Cica Gel – available at Yesstyle
best korean centella products cica balms korean skincare cica products
Look no further than these 4 Centella products if you want to soothe your skin without irritating it with harmful ingredients (see my ingredient comparison table below).

Of course, the remaining 7 products which I looked at may suit your skincare needs very well and they all have great reviews too. I simply wanted to find the BEST of the BEST

Take a look at my detailed table further down if you’d like to know how I ranked these 11 Korean Centella products.

What Is Centella Asiatica?

The first question to answer is: What is Centella asiatica?

what is centella asiatica
Centella asiatica is a cute little plant with cute little fan-shaped leaves 🙂

Centella asiatica is the scientific name of the medicinal plant commonly known as gotu kola, tiger grass or Indian pennywort. It’s a perennial herb with small fan-shaped leaves that grows in tropical and subtropical regions of the world including Asia, India, equatorial Africa and Central America.

It has been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for thousands of years, especially for dermatological conditions (such as small wounds, scratches and burns) as well as an anti-inflammatory ingredient to treat conditions such as eczema.

It has even been used as an antibacterial and antiviral drug, and for relieving anxiety and improving cognition.

Active Constituents Of Centella Asiatica

So we now know that Centella is a plant with huge medicinal value, but what gives this little herb its pro-healing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties?

Centella contains many active compounds, however it is believed that saponins (mainly asiaticoside, madecassoside, asiatic acid and madecassic acid) are responsible for this plant’s wide therapeutic actions.

chemical consituents of centella asiatica medicinal properties
The chemical structure of the active constituents of Centella asiatica that give this little herb it’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Centella asiatica has strong antioxidant properties due to the above compounds, and it’s also a rich source of amino acids, flavonoids, phytosterols and fatty acids.

Benefits Of Centella Asiatica For Skin

Centella asiatica really is a plant powerhouse when it comes to skincare – it really does have many, many benefits for your skin.

Many scientific studies have shown that it has powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

korean centella products cosrx centella blemish cream
The anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of Centella make it the perfect ingredient for your skin

Centella Asiatica Improves The Skin’s Moisture Barrier

This study found that using a formulation of 5% Centella asiatica extract for 4 weeks improved the hydration of the skin’s moisture barrier (stratum corneum) by 25%. This is mainly due to the molecular structure of the saponins in Centella asiatica – which have the ability to bind water within an occlusive layer – therefore reducing the amount of trans-epidermal water loss.

The effect that Centella has on the skin’s hydration is comparable to that of Aloe vera.

So, if you’re looking for a good moisturizer to improve your skin’s epidermal barrier function, it might be worthwhile looking for one with Centella asiatica extract!

Centella Asiatica Reduces The Skin’s Sensitivity To Irritants

The same study as above also evaluated the anti-inflammatory properties of Centella asiatica. It was found that Centella has a protective effect on the skin, reducing its sensitivity to irritants.

Although I’d love to go into the biochemical details of how Centella has these effects, I will spare you! I’ll instead just say that it is mainly due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of the compounds found in Centella – which reduce skin redness (erythema), decrease trans-epidermal water loss and allow the skin to return to optimal pH after exposure to irritants.

In other words – if you have sensitive skin that gets irritated easily, a Centella product could help to calm and soothe your skin while reducing redness!

Anti-Aging Benefits Of Centella Asiatica

If the above benefits weren’t enough – Centella asiatica has also been shown to increase collagen production and improve skin firmness and elasticity– making it a powerful anti-aging ingredient.

This study found that the compound madecassoside (found in Centella asiatica) reverses photo-ageing of the skin (such as sunspots) by significantly improving deep and superficial wrinkles, suppleness, firmness, roughness and skin hydration.

centella asiatica skin benefits anti aging madecassoside collagen production
The active compounds found in Centella asiatica can improve deep and superficial wrinkles and skin firmness by increasing collagen production

Centella Soothes And Increases Healing Of Acne & Sensitive Skin

Centella is also a great ingredient to include in your skincare routine if you have acne-prone skin. This is because the active constituents of Centella asiatica speed up wound healing and decrease inflammation by stimulating the production of collagen.

A lot of the Korean skincare products targeted for acne-prone skin contain Centella asiatica – or one of it’s derivatives.

This is because Centella helps to heal pimples faster while preventing acne scarring.

If you have acne-prone skin and would like to know what other ingredients or products to include in your routine – then check out my other post here.

The Best Korean Centella Asiatica Skincare Products

Centella asiatica can be found in many Korean skincare products as it is fast becoming such a popular ingredient! This is due to the many benefits it has for the skin – and the many scientific studies that confirm these benefits.

It can therefore be difficult to know which product you should buy. Which ones are the best?

I’ve done the research for you and have listed what I found to be the 11 best Centella asiatica products currently available in the Korean skincare market.

I’ve then gone further and compiled a table with detailed information about each of these products to find the top 4 products (the BEST of the BEST). Hopefully this saves you hours of frustration when trying to decide which Centella product to choose!

best korean centella asiatica skincare products cica creams
The top 11 Korean Centella skincare products I found that people loved and had the most positive things to say about (on forums and blogs). I then went on to compare ingredient lists, price and online store ratings to find the BEST of the BEST.
  1. COSRX – Centella Blemish Cream
  2. Etude House (Soon Jung) – 5-Panthensoside Cica Balm
  3. Etude House (Soon Jung) – pH 5.5 Relief Toner
  4. Etude House (Soon Jung) – 2 x Barrier Intensive Cream
  5. A’PIEU – Madecassoside Cream
  6. Dr Jart+ – Cicapair Cream
  7. Innisfree – Bija Cica Gel
  8. MISSHA – Near Skin Madecanol Cream
  9. Purito – Centella Green Level Buffet Serum
  10. Klairs – Midnight Blue Calming Cream
  11. SKIN1004 – Madagascar Centella Asiatica 100 Ampoule
best korean skincare products with centella asiatica comparison table
Here you go! My detailed comparison of the 11 Korean Centella asiatica skincare products. Hopefully this helps you narrow down your choice. The average customer rating was calculated using product ratings found on Amazon, Yesstyle and SkinCarisma.

I scored each of the 11 products in the table above (based on their ingredients, ratings and price) and then ranked them in order from highest to lowest score to determine which products are the BEST of the BEST.

I’ll save you the details of how I scored them, but here’s how they rank (from BEST to ‘WORST’):

  1. Etude House (Soon Jung) – pH 5.5 Relief Toner
  2. SKIN1004 – Madagascar Centella Asiatica 100 Ampoule
  3. A’PIEU – Madecassoside Cream
  4. Innisfree – Bija Cica Gel
  5. Etude House (Soon Jung) – 2 x Barrier Intensive Cream
  6. Etude House (Soon Jung) – 5-Panthensoside Cica Balm
  7. COSRX – Centella Blemish Cream
  8. MISSHA – Near Skin Madecanol Cream
  9. Purito – Centella Green Level Buffet Serum
  10. Klairs – Midnight Blue Calming Cream
  11. Dr Jart+ – Cicapair Cream

The BEST Of The BEST Korean Centella Asiatica Skincare Products

I love the information that the table I created gave me and I hope it helps you narrow down your choices too. Whether you have dry, sensitive or oily and acne prone skin, this table should help you to find the right product for you.

It’s quite interesting, because when searching through many ‘Centella product’ threads in forums, the products I found talked about the most, were not in my top 4.

You’ll find that the COSRX Centella Blemish Cream is talked about the most on forums, and I think this would often be the first Centella product people would reach for. However, it ranked #7 out of the 11 products I included in my comparison. This was mainly because of the numerous comedogenic and fungal acne-triggering ingredients it contains.

I was also shocked to see that the popular Dr Jart Cicapair Cream ranked last. This was actually the most expensive product on the list. The ingredient list for this product is insanely long – and sadly, it contained the most comedogenic and fungal acne-triggering ingredients out of all the products.

NOTE:Just because a product contains comedogenic and fungal-acne triggering ingredients, doesn’t mean that everyone’s skin would react to these negatively. So, even though a product contains a comedogenic ingredient such as butylene glycol, it doesn’t mean it will necessarily cause your skin to have comedomes.

So, let’s talk about the BEST of the BEST products, shall we?

Etude House (Soon Jung) – pH 5.5 Relief Toner

I was really excited that the Soon Jung toner made #1. I am in love with the Etude House Soon Jung line and I’ve been using this toner since I started looking after my skin – without even knowing it contains Centella!

And the crown goes to…Soon Jung’s pH5.5 Relief Toner! If you didn’t check the ingredients, you might not know that Centella is one of the main ingredients.

At first, I was a bit unsure about using an Etude House skincare product in my skincare routine – only because I felt that Etude House is heavily marketed towards younger women and teenagers (especially their makeup). BUT, I am so glad I considered the Soon Jung line because this toner has been great for my acne-prone skin.

This toner contains madecassoside – one of the main active compounds found in the plant extract of Centella asiatica.

It also contains panthenol (a compound closely related to vitamin B5) which delivers deep hydration to the skin throughout the day.

It only contains 1 comedogenic ingredient (butylene glycol), and was the only product on the list to be free of both skin irritating ingredients and fungal acne-triggering ingredients. It was also one of the only products to be suitable for all skin types!

To top it all off, it’s also one of the most affordable products on the list.

I love this toner’s minimal ingredient list and that it is also unscented. In fact, when I’m breaking out quite badly, this is only one of 3 products I continue to use while my skin is recovering (the others are the COSRX Low pH Good Morning Cleanser and the COSRX Advanced 96 Snail Mucin Essence).

I love the look of the Soon Jung line. My favorite toner is now also my go-to Centella product.

I love the look of the packaging (not that this should determine which product you choose) and I love keeping it in the fridge for an extra-cooling and soothing effect.

SKIN1004 – Madagascar Centella Asiatica 100 Ampoule

This Centella product comes in the form of an ampoule (a serum). I almost wasn’t even going to include it in my review as it wasn’t mentioned that much in the forums I searched and it also doesn’t have that many reviews on Amazon or Yesstyle.

BUT, I was pleasantly surprised to see it rank #2 out of the 11 products I compared! Sometimes we really do have to look past all the other big name brands and see what other lesser-known brands have to offer!

So how did this shy little ampoule come out on top? It’s really down to it’s ingredient list: which contains nothing but 100% Centella asiatica extract!!

Skin1004’s Centella ampoule contains nothing but Centella asiatia extract with 3 active compounds: asiaticoside, asiatic acid and madecassic acid, making it a great choice for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin.

I found it interesting to learn how this serum is made:

The Centella asiatica plant is harvested in Madagascar (hence the name of the product). It is then processed in Korea, where a low temperature is used for extraction. The extract is then put through a tiny microfilter, and it is then bottled – that’s it! The ending chemical composition of the product is:

  • 40% Madecassic Acid (soothing, reduces hyperpigmentation, acne and acne scarring)
  • 30% Asiatic Acid (skin barrier strengthening, calming for sensitive spots, antioxidant, improves skin elasticity)
  • 30% Asiaticoside (oil-water balancing, stimulates collagen production, anti-aging).

The great thing about this being such a lightweight serum is that it is amazing for layering and it can be added to your moisturizer or other creams and applied that way. Also, I need to mention that for the 100ml that you get, it’s one of the most affordable products that I reviewed.

It’s such a shame that this product isn’t mentioned or reviewed as often as other Centella products, as it is suitable for all skin types and would be great for very sensitive skin since it contains no other ingredients. Let me know in the comments if you have tried this Centella ampoule.

A’PIEU – Madecassoside Cream

I actually came across this product a lot when doing research for this post. It seems to be quite a popular choice for people when looking for a Centella product and it has very good reviews. The brand A’Pieu actually has a whole line of madecassoside products – however I chose to review the cream as it seems to be the most popular.

A look at the A’pieu madecassoside skincare range. I’ve only reviewed the cream in this post as it is the most popular, however all these products contain Centella asiatica (in the form of madecassoside).

This cream is actually a moisturizing cream (not a spot-treatment cream) and contains 40% Centella asiatica leaf water and 0.1% madecassoside. It also contains panthenol and witch hazel extract for extra hydration and niacinamide for skin-brightening.

It only contains 1 comedogenic ingredient (butylene glycol) and two potentially skin-irritating ingredients (lactic acid and lemon peel oil). It is free of any fungal acne-triggering ingredients.

This Centella cream is therefore great for all skin types, unless you are sensitive to essential oils. It also is a great choice for a lightweight moisturizer for those with oily skin (dry skin types might need to add another moisturizing product on top of this one).

Also, this cream is a good choice if you’re looking at fading hyperpigmentation as it contains niacinamide.

Innisfree – Bija Cica Gel

While doing my research I actually found out that the Innisfree Bija Cica Gel is actually one of the most popular cica products in Korea, so I’m glad it ranked #4 on my product comparison list.

Innisfree actually have a pretty big “Bija Cica” line, with the Bija Cica Balm probably being the second most popular product. I chose to review the gel over the balm as it is fungal acne-friendly and contains less comedogenic ingredients.

This Cica gel from Innisfree contains other beneficial ingredients such as Bija oil and panthenol

The Bija Cica Gel formulated with 4 types of active compounds found in Centella asiatica extract: madecassoside, madecassic acid, asiaticoside and asiatic acid.

It also contains Bija oil. This oil is extracted from the seeds of the fruit of the
Torreya nucifera tree (Bija tree), which grow on Jeju Island. It protects the skin with its antibacterial properties, therefore making it a good ingredient for treating acne. This gel also contains panthenol which strengthens the skin’s barrier by providing hydration.

If you have oily and/or acne prone skin, then this lightweight gel might be the Centella product you’re looking for. It can be applied to the entire face (before using other creams or moisturizer) or it can be used as a spot treatment (and applied a little thicker to trouble areas).

Lastly, I have to mention why this cica gel came 4th out of the 11 products I reviewed. It is because this gel contains only 1 comedogenic ingredient (butylene glycolwhy you in everything??) and only one potential skin irritating ingredient (basil oil). And it doesn’t contain any fungal acne-triggering ingredients.

Although not a deciding factor in how I scored the 11 products, I do love the minimalist and natural-looking packaging of this gel.

Final Thoughts

Centella is fast becoming one of the most popular ingredients in Korean skincare products – especially those aimed at sensitive and acne-prone skin due to it’s abilities to soothe and calm red and inflamed skin.

But, with so many Centella skincare products to choose from, it can be difficult and time-consuming to decide which product to purchase. I hope that my hours (I mean days) of research about Centella and comparison of 11 popular Korean Centella products can help you find the right product.

I choose Soon Jung toner for Centella in my skincare routine!

Lastly, if you had to ask me which product I would choose after doing this research, I would say that I would happily stick with my Soon Jung toner, which had the highest score when I compared all 11 products! However, if I wanted to add more Centella into my routine, I think I would try the SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Asiatica 100 Ampoule (which ranked #2) due to it’s unique formulation of 100% Centella asiatica extract.

Let me know in the comments if you have tried any of the Centella products I compared in this post and what your thoughts are about them. Did they help to improve your skin? Is there a product you have tried that I didn’t mention in this post (I’m certain there is as there are just so many Centella products on the market).

Further Reading

Bylka et al., 2013: Centella asiatica in cosmetology. Postepy Dermatol Alergol., 30(1), pp. 46-49

Bylka et al., 2014: Centella asiatica in dermatology: an overview. Phytother Res., 28(8), pp. 1117-24

Gohil et al., 2010: Pharmacological Review on Centella asiatica: A Potential Herbal Cure-all. Indian J Pharm Sci., 72(5), pp. 546-556

Haftek et al., 2008: Clinical, biometric and structural evaluation of the long-term effects of a topical treatment with ascorbic acid and madecassoside in photoaged human skin. Exp Dermatol., Nov 17(11), pp. 946-952

Jahan et al., 2015: Elemental and Fatty Acid Content of Four Medicinal Plants: Kaiempferia rotunda, Cuscuta reflexa, Centella asiatica and Asparagus racemosus. European J Medicinal Plants., 10(4), pp. 1-10

Ratz-Lyko et al., 2016: Moisturizing and Antiinflammatory Properties of Cosmetic Formulations Containing Centella asiatica Extract. Indian J Pharm Sci., 78(1), pp. 27-33