Cica. If you’re a K-beauty lover you’ll definitely know about this ‘magic’ ingredient. Especially because in the past year, Korean beauty brands have made a conscious effort to create products using this ingredient and some even have specific lines for them. The Face Shop revealed a sensitive skincare line known as Dr. Belmeur Advanced Line that consists of four products made with ceramides, panthenol and centella asiatica extracts. Dr. Jart’s Cicapair and Innisfree’s Bija Cica Care range both help to regenerate and soothe skin while Etude House, who’s normally very makeup-focused, even debuted its Soon Jung line that contains panthenoside to strengthen skin protein.

Of course, centella asiatica is not new and has been around for ages. It was used in traditional Chinese medicine and tigers (yes, the animal) reportedly roll around the plant to heal their battle wounds and scars. So what makes it such a beauty buzzword now?

According to the New York Post in April 2018, South Korea has been experiencing an acute rise in air pollution that experts link to emissions from the country’s increasing number of cars and also to China’s massive industrial activity – and we all know how air pollution can take a massive toll on our skin (read: dull complexions, rapid signs of ageing and more). Besides using products that contain ingredients like, say, moringa oil, which is known for its ability to neutralise harmful environment pollutants, the beauty mecca has now turned to centella asiatica, which is not only rich in antioxidants, but a superb ingredient to calm and heal the effects of damaged skin from pollution.

Cica is a term coined from the plant-based ingredient centella asiatica (spot the word play there), which is very much known for its healing, soothing and calming properties, as well as other therapeutic benefits. R&D and production lead of local skincare brand Alcheme Amy Yee shares that its leaves are rich in two actives known as asiaticosides and madecassocides, which stimulate rapid and healthy growth of collagen. Additionally, it is also rich in amino acids, beta-carotene, fatty acids and numerous phytochemicals that are said to help treat acne scarring, anti-ageing, calm inflammation and more. If that’s not impressive enough, its potent antioxidant content helps to protect and defend skin from harmful airborne pollutants and it even has the ability to help repair damaged skin barrier, making it ideal for those with sensitised skin.

Here, we suss out the cica-infused products you need to add to your beauty arsenal, stat.

Dr. Belmeur Advanced Cica Recovery Cream, $44


As the ingredients of this derma regenerating recovery cream is similar to the skin structure, it is able to increase moisture levels and prevent damage by forming a protective film over the skin. It also contains the brand’s Skin-Sync RX Complex to strengthen and provide intensive care to damaged complexions, as well as longlasting moisturising benefits.

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Re-Cover, $77, Sephora


Not only does this cream treat damaged and inflamed complexions, it is also a green-to-beige colour correcting treatment to help correct redness and blemishes, block dust and other harmful fine particles, as well as provide SPF protection. It even has anti-wrinkle and whitening properties to ensure stressed complexions are well protected. Sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium improves moisture levels of fatigued skin.

Innisfree Bija Cica Balm, $35


This light gel-type balm can be applied every morning and night to protect and relieve irritated skin. It is formulated with bija seed oil and high purity centella asiatica 4X (it is reportedly three point six times more powerful in efficacy compared to others) to guard it against external aggressors and even minimise the appearance of blemishes.

Etude House Soon June 2x Barrier Intensive Cream, $27.90


With a pH level of seven, this is saturated with a Dust Defense Complex to strengthen skin’s resistance, restore moisture balance and protects it from harmful airborne particles. It is also enriched with shea butter and oil complex to hydrate complexions.

Main image: