Gotu Kola's Skin Benefits Include Acne-Fighting & Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Years ago, an Ayurvedic nutritionist suggested I stir gotu kola powder into my morning smoothie as a natural way to boost my mood — and because trying alternative remedies for stress, skincare, and anything in between is kind of a hobby of mine, I enthusiastically obliged. Gotu kola has been a staple in my wellness routine ever since, but it was only recently that I realized it’s also been a part of my beauty routine, thanks to my beloved tiger grass skincare products. While chatting with Barbara Close, an herbalist and the founder of Naturopathica, about her brand’s new Gotu Kola Intense Repair Balm, she let me know that “gotu kola” is simply the ancient Indian name for centella asiatica — AKA tiger grass, AKA cica, AKA the ingredient that’s known to soothe sensitive skin on contact. Mind = blown.
Even if “gotu kola” still sounds relatively foreign to your beauty-loving brain, you’re probably familiar with its core benefits already. The ingredient rose to fame in late 2017 when K-beauty brand Dr. Jart and drugstore giant L’Oreal both popularized “cica”-centric products (Cicapair and Cicacream, respectively), intended to calm irritation and stimulate the skin’s wound-healing response. “The multitasking herb is widely respected by herbalists for its reparative and soothing properties,” Close tells TZR. “The plant is native to Asia’s wetlands, and legend has it that tigers would roll around in these nutrient-rich leaves to heal their battle wounds — which is why it’s referred to there as 'tiger grass.'"
The rewards of gotu kola are indeed legendary. “Tiger grass is very rich in chlorophyll, with additional nutrients like zinc, selenium, copper, amino acids, and beta-carotene,” Dr. Devika Icecreamwala, a board-certified dermatologist, tells TZR. “It provides a soothing effect to the skin and can also help promote skin cell growth, making your skin look strong and more fit.” Close says that the ingredient has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is a known antioxidant, as well. “Clinical studies show that it can aid in skin healing by stimulating collagen production,” she adds. That same scientific study refers to gotu kola as “a potential herbal cure-all,” which, yes please.
“Those that struggle with acne, rosacea, or sensitive skin can really benefit from incorporating this into their routine,” Dr. Icecreamwala shares. There aren’t any downsides to trying it out, either, as it’s super-soothing and unlikely to cause any adverse reactions.
And if you like to eat your skincare like I do, gotu kola makes a wonderful dietary supplement. “Internally, gotu kola is an adaptogen herb that helps the skin and body ‘adapt’ to environmental stress, and better equip you to deal with physical, emotional, and mental stress,” the herbalist explains. Ingestible gotu kola can be found in Naturopathica’s Burdock Healthy Skin Tincture (because there’s nothing like a one-stop shop for inner and outer wellness, right?). If you prefer a powder formula to stir into your latte, though, try Banyan Botanicals pure Gotu Kola Powder (my personal go-to).
Ahead, 12 ways to self-soothe with gotu kola/cica/tiger grass/whatever you want to call it.
Shop Gotu Kola Skincare
Gotu Kola Intense Repair Balm
"Gotu kola is best for dry, reactive, and sensitized skin types, particularly those who are dealing with skin imbalances like rosacea, eczema, or stress-related breakouts," Close says. If you self-identify as any of the above, grab yourself a jar of Naturopathica's latest release.
The Lumen line from Cleban will soon include *two* products infused with gotu kola: This skin-strengthening moisturizer to use topically (available now), and a stir-in to use internally (coming in late Spring 2019).
Skin Meditation Stress Neutralizing Cellular Energy Complex
This self-professed "wellness cocktail" lives up to its name: Its blend of tiger grass, calming echinacea, and argan oil is basically like a meditation session for your skin.
White Tiger Serum
Tiger grass is known for being extremely soothing, and its plant stem cells are just as powerful. Reach for this White Tiger Serum to reduce redness and calm reactive skin, all while preserving your natural collagen stores.
Brighten Facial Serum
Osmia Organics' oil is a veritable buffet of all-natural goodness: In addition to gotu kola, it contains hydrating argan oil, acne-fighting prickly pear, and plumping pumpkin seed oil.
Hydraflora Probiotic Essence
Gotu kola soothes while probiotics support the skin's microbiome. The result? Hydrated, healthier skin.
Anti-Aging Facial Oil
This facial oil stimulates collagen production (courtesy of gotu kola) and deeply hydrates (care of chia seed oil) to keep your face firm and glowy.
Centella 90 Ampoule
Ready for the calmest skin ever? Pureheals' serum is formulated with an impressive 90 percent gotu kola extract.
The Ultra Luxuriant Hair Elixir
Gotu kola has even made its way into the hair care space. Malavara's "pre-shampoo oil" relies on the herbal ingredient to keep strands conditioned and frizz-free.
Gotu Kola and Walnut Body Exfoliator
Add this to your body care routine ASAP: cica soothes while walnut smoothes, for soft skin all over.
Burdock Healthy Skin Tincture
Take advantage of the herb's adaptogenic qualities by adding a dropper full of Naturopathica's tincture to an afternoon cup of tea. Bonus: It also features detoxing burdock root and moisturizing red clover.
Gotu Kola Powder
Keep it simple by stirring a teaspoon of pure powder into your smoothie or latte. It's said to help the body (and skin) regulate stress.