What Is Cica? A Guide To The Skin Care Soother


If you’re someone with sensitive and redness-prone skin, you’ll know there are plenty of ingredients out there for you to avoid.

But what about which ingredients to look for? 

Colloidal oatmeal, calendula, liciorice root and willow herb are some of the soothing skin care saviours you may have already heard of, but as of late, plenty of calming concotions have been touting ‘cica’ on their label, too.

So to get the lowdown on this four-letter word, we asked Olay’s Skin Care Scientist, David Khoo to explain exactly what cica is, and the benefits it has for the skin. 

What is cica?

Cica is an ingredient widely known for its healing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. From traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic roots, David says it’s “a natural ingredient first identified in India and has a host of promising benefits including its ability to calm the skin.”

While David admits that ‘skin calming’ sounds like a fluffy term, “it does refer to the very real anti-inflammatory activity observed in lab studies.”  

What are the benefits of cica in skin care?

“Cica is great for anyone who’s concerned about how stress might be affecting their skin, as it calms, soothes and repairs irritated skin,” says David. But it also has antibacterial properties that help keep skin bacterial at bay for all skin types.

“Our skin is also susceptible to environmental aggressors, which, in the presence of sugars in skin, can interact with collagen and cause skin yellowing, a phenomenon known has glycation,” he explains. “Cica has anti-glycation properties that helps prevent this process.”

How should we be using cica in our skin care routines?

David recommends using it at the start of the day, “before you go out to face the stresses of the day, because of the skin calming properties.”

“Try using a formula that’s absorbent, like a serum to make sure you’re getting the maximum benefit of the ingredient.”

What other ingredients does cica play well with?

David finds that niacinamide and cica make a great pairing.

“Niacinamide stimulates the renewal of skin cells but also the production of important skin barrier proteins like fillagrin and keratin, as well as barrier ceramides,” he says. “This complements the anti-inflammatory benefit of cica so that skin is fortified against the stresses of the day.”

How come cica is only just on our radars now?

Cica has been around for a long time. In fact, David tells us: “It’s thought that tigers would roll in a bed of cica grass due to its wound healing properties.”

For mass skin care products, however, “it’s a promising new ingredient with some interesting science and benefits.”

“It’s got natural origins and a little bit of a mystique associated with it; it’s not every day that an ingredient like this comes along!”

Sounds like this isn’t the last we’ll hear or see of cica…

5 of the best cica skin care products to try

  1. innisfree Bija Cica Balm EX
  2. CLINIQUE Moisture Surge Intense 72H Lipid-Replenishing Hydrator 
  3. Olay Luminous Niacinamide + Cica Super Serum
  4. Elizabeth Arden Visible Brightening Cicaglow Concentrate
  5. Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask, $48 at Adore Beauty

Had you heard of this ingredient before? Or tried any of the products above?

Share your thoughts

Comments 94

  1. I’m so jealous!

    I don’t bother to use concealer if I get one these days – it detracts from the wrinkles. I like to delude myself into thinking it gives me a youthful complexion, haha!

  2. Dr. Jart was my intro to cica and I’m bummed they stopped carrying the brand at Sephora (online, not sure about in store) because now I’ll have to try to look elsewhere for it. Or maybe not because I’m currently in love with Elemis superfood cica hydration juice. I apply it in the morning after my vitamin c serum – currently using my mini Drunk Elephant vitamin C serum which is good, but can make my face feel a bit tight and dry and the cica serum solves that problem for me.

    If you can pop into Mecca and get a sample of the Elemis cica serum, I highly recommend it. It’s awesome.

  3. Cica sounds like an incredible ingredient. I’m not surprised to hear that it would’ve originated from Chinese and Ayruvedic medicine, as both are known for the transforming impact to the body using natural sources around us.

  4. Calendula is one of my most favourite ingredients to soothe irritated skin, but it’s always great to hear of another one.

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