Madecassoside - the real hero in Centella Asiatica "Cica" Skincare

Centella asiatica (a.k.a. All things “cica” in skinare) is a popular skincare ingredient that touts soothing benefits. You might be wondering what sets centella apart when it seems like every plant extract you hear about in skincare touts “soothing”, “anti-inflammatory (a big no-no since this is a drug claim but it’s out there)”, and “antioxidant” benefits. But hear it from the chemists! – very few of these ingredients actually have clinical evidence proving that they work in skincare. From the plant extract realm, centella asiatica actually has some interesting clinical testing behind it. This is why we ourselves chose to include a potent dose of centella active ingredients in our very own Aquafix. So let’s dive into the data and see what makes centella such a special plant extract, what does it actually does for your skin, and how to find the best centella skincare.

What is Centella Asiatica?

Centella Asiatica is an herb found worldwide in typically tropical, humid areas. It’s a hearty plant with roots in traditional food, drinks, and even medicine in Southeast Asia. In the world of skincare, centella first caught the attention of brands for being a potential soother from a couple of very promising wound healing studies. Since then, centella’s popularity has exploded and you’ll be able to find this lurking in the IL of all sorts of products. Just think about the sheer number of “cica” products you see on the shelves! Centella asiatica now comes in a wide range of products from serums, toners, and creams. But is centella really as good of a soothing ingredient as its reputation? Let’s dive into the clinical data. 

Madecassoside & Asiaticoside - Hero Components of Centella

Before we dive into the clinical data, we have to first talk about the complexities of plant extracts in general. When you see “xyz extract” on your serum’s ingredient list, it actually gives very little insight into the potency of the ingredient. Every plant extract can contain a blend of different “active” and “non-active compounds”. Some extracts can contain high levels of these active compounds while others…not so much. In fact, a huge part of a cosmetic chemist’s job is to decipher the quality of these different extracts. 

Not even all the active ingredients from the same plant extract are created equal. For example, Centella Asiatica is rich in triterpenoids such as asiaticoside, madecassoside, asiatic acid, and madecassoic acid. However, most of the clinical testing has been done on just madecassoside and asiaticoside.

In summary? Plant extracts and active ingredients from plant extracts aren’t created equal. When it comes to Centella Asiatica, madecassoside and asiaticoside are the real heroes that provide the soothing, anti-inflammatory benefits you’re looking for. 

Show me the data! Centella Asiatica's Clinical Evidence

In the realm of plant extracts, good clinical evidence is pretty hard to come by. It can be quite difficult to find the real gems amongst a sea of extracts, each claiming to be the best “soothing, calming, brightening, anti-aging” miracle. Centella asiatica is one that actually has a handful of interesting clinicals behind it, which is pretty rare. Even though the clinicals are not as extensive as a superstar active such as retinol, it’s still pretty impressive in the plant realm. There are 3 major tested benefits to centella asiatica: wound healing, soothing, and anti-aging (as a support ingredient) benefits.

Wound Healing

The active components of centella first caught the attention of researchers in the late 90s for its in vitro and in vivo animal wound healing data. In these studies, they found that both topical and oral madecassoside and asiaticoside appear to help with burn wound healing. Now, these studies don’t necessarily translate directly to skincare use, but this was an early indication of other potential skin benefits! In fact, in many of these studies, they showed that these ingredients could have the ability to boost collagen production and inhibit inflammation in these wound models.

Topical Soother

Now, a lot of extracts would simply ride on these semi-skincare-relevant tests and get branded as the next skincare miracle. But in the case of centella asiatica, there is actual topical data showing its ability to soothe skin topically. In one particular study of 25 volunteers, they used a skin irritation model and had subjects use a cream with 5% centella extract twice a day for 4 weeks to treat the irritation site. They found that the 5% centella treatment had significantly reduced erythema in comparison to the placebo.

Anti-Aging Support

Last but not least, there are a few studies that show that centella, in particular madecassoside, shows promises as an anti-aging support ingredient. One of the most notable studies in this arena combined 5% ascorbic acid with 0.1% madecassoside for 6 months on 20 women from ages 45 to 60. Now, this isn’t a super high percentage of ascorbic acid, but with the addition of madecassoside, study subjects were still able to see significant improvements to all signs of skin aging. With this study, we wouldn’t say centella asiatica is a must in an anti-aging routine.  However, madecassoside is certainly a great addition that can help round out your routine and especially for those with sensitive skin. 

Centella Skincare Shopping Tips & Product Recommendations

Ready to add some soothing benefits of centella asiatica to your skincare routine? When it comes to centella products, we would definitely recommend giving the ingredient list a quick scan regardless of product type. Remember! Getting enough of the active components is key. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of products out there with transparent centella asiatica percentages. So here are some of our chemists’ top tips for finding your centella champion product:

  • Key ingredients to look for: Look for “madecassoside” and “asiaticoside” on the ingredient list. Transparent percentages is a big bonus!
  • Location on an ingredient list matters: If a product only has “centella asiatica extract” on the ingredient list, it should be very high up on the ingredient list. Think within the first 5 ingredients! The higher on the list an extract is the higher the concentration. This gives you the best chance at getting the most benefit from the extract.
  • Who can benefit from having centella asiatica in their skincare routine? This is a pretty vanilla ingredient. Given that this is a soother, it’s a great addition to anyone’s routine. In fact, centella + vitamin C is a great duo for those looking to build an age prevention routine!

Centella Product Recommendations:

Here are a few products that fit the bill to help you get started:

Centella Asiatica Madecassoside Skincare Product Landscape

Centella Asiatica/Madecassoside Key Takeaways

  • Centella Asiatica is an herb with soothing, wound-healing, moisturizing, and possible anti-aging benefits
  • Madecassoside and asiaticoside are the active components of centella you should be looking for on the product ingredient lists. Alternatively, “centella asiatica extract” should be high up on the ingredient list.
  • You should aim for at least 0.1% madecassoside or asiaticoside. Regardless of product type (serums, ampoules, toners, etc.), products with transparent percentages are the way to go!
  • Consider pairing this with your favorite vitamin C serum!
  • We had a deep dive discussion on this ingredient on the podcast! 


Bylka, W., Znajdek‐Awiżeń, P., Studzińska‐Sroka, E., Dańczak‐Pazdrowska, A., & Brzezińska, M. (2014). Centella asiatica in dermatology: an overview. Phytotherapy research, 28(8), 1117-1124.

Bandopadhyay, S., Mandal, S., Ghorai, M., Jha, N. K., Kumar, M., Radha, ... & Dey, A. (2023). Therapeutic properties and pharmacological activities of asiaticoside and madecassoside: a review. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, 27(5), 593-608.

Ratz-Łyko, A., Arct, J., & Pytkowska, K. (2016). Moisturizing and antiinflammatory properties of cosmetic formulations containing Centella asiatica extract. Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences, 78(1), 27.

Haftek, M., Mac‐Mary, S., Bitoux, M. A. L., Creidi, P., Seité, S., Rougier, A., & Humbert, P. (2008). Clinical, biometric and structural evaluation of the long‐term effects of a topical treatment with ascorbic acid and madecassoside in photoaged human skin. Experimental dermatology, 17(11), 946-952.

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