You've probably never heard of madecassoside, but you likely have heard of Centella asiatica. Also known as Tiger Grass or gotu kola, the medicinal plant is the star of skin-soothing cica creams galore—and madecassoside is one of the primary, most active compounds in centella asiatica. Unlike centella asiatica, madecassoside is still somewhat of a new ingredient on the scene. Still, the effects it can have on the skin—everything from soothing properties to antioxidant benefits to hydration—make it one that dermatologists say has some serious promise. We asked Y. Claire Chang, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City, Beverly Hills dermatologist Onyeka Obioha, MD, and New York City board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, to share what they know about this madecassoside, and what it can potentially do for skin.
Meet the Expert
Type of Ingredient: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Main Benefits: Reduces free radicals, inhibits inflammation, and improves skin hydration.
Who Should Use It: According to Chang, madecassoside may be beneficial for inflamed, acne-prone skin, and photodamaged skin.
How Often Can You Use It: As infrequently or as often as necessary, but it's gentle enough to use twice daily.
Works Well With: Its antioxidant properties are enhanced when paired with vitamin C, and combining it with hyaluronic acid can also augment its hydrating effects, says Obioha.
Don't Use With: There are no ingredients known to interact negatively with madecassoside. In fact, it can even be paired with many potentially-irritating actives due to its soothing effects, notes Obioha.
What Is Madecassoside?
As mentioned, it's the superstar component found in Centella asiatica, the much more popular ingredient lauded for its outstanding soothing and wound healing effects. "Madecassoside is rich in amino acids, beta carotene, fatty acids, and phytochemicals," explains Obioha, which is why it (potentially) can do great things for the skin.
Benefits of Madecassoside for Skin
First and foremost, it's worth noting that all of the dermatologists we spoke with agree that more studies need to be done to confirm madecassoside's range of potential skin benefits. That being said, the list of possibilities is extensive. "This is a new ingredient that's definitely on my radar," says Bowe, "the data is sparse but promising."
- Offers antioxidant protection: Madecassoside has been shown to reduce skin-damaging free radicals formed by exposure to environmental factors such as UV rays and pollution.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties: "Small, preliminary studies suggest that madecassoside can dial down inflammatory cellular messengers called cytokines, including those that are typically turned on during an acne flare," explains Bowe. She says that this is why she can foresee this being a beneficial ingredient not only for those with dry or sensitive skin but those with acne-prone skin, as well.
- Improves skin hydration: Lab studies suggest that madecassoside can increase the skin's natural hyaluronic acid production, says Bowe.
- Offers additional anti-aging benefits: According to Chang, lab-based studies have also shown that it enhances collagen synthesis. And, going back to those aforementioned antioxidant properties, it works synergistically with vitamin C, a proven anti-ager. "One small clinical study of 20 female patients showed that using topical vitamin C and madecassoside for six months resulted in an improvement in wrinkles, skin firmness and texture, and skin hydration," she says.
Side Effects of Madecassoside
While the ingredient is typically well-tolerated, there's always a risk of an allergic reaction or irritation. Obioha recommends doing a small patch test on your inner forearm for two weeks before trying the ingredient on your face.
How to Use It
Follow the instructions of the particular product you choose; the ingredient is most often found in thicker creams and balms, which you should always apply after any more lightweight lotions or serums. Generally speaking, you can use it twice daily.
The Best Products With Madecassoside
Obioha says this cream is "instantly soothing" for especially sensitive and/or irritated skin, even if you have rosacea. Credit Centella asiatica and madecassoside, along with heavy-hitting hydrators such as niacinamide (which also has soothing benefits) and shea butter.
Chang is also a fan of the same line, though she recommends this product. A choice pick for daytime, she lauds it both for instantly soothing the skin with that same Centella asiatica plus madecassoside pairing, as well as instantly reducing redness with its green tint and delivering your daily dose of SPF 30.
"This is formulated with a combination of madecassoside, niacinamide, witch hazel, and panthenol to calm, brighten, tone, and hydrate the skin," says Chang. Bonus points for the wallet-friendly price tag.
Both Obioha and Chang recommend this balm, a true cult-classic. "It's jam-packed with antioxidants, thermal water, and madecassoside to strengthen the skin and protect the skin barrier," says Obioha. Chang also notes how soothing and moisturizing it is, thanks to the addition of panthenol, shea butter, and glycerin. It can also be used from head-to-toe, even to soothe diaper rash on babies.
Madecassoside is just one of many superstar ingredients found in this formula, one of Chang's favorites. It fights inflammation and aging but also contains niacinamide to brighten and adenosine for smoothing benefits, she says. Rounding out the mix are ceramides to help repair the skin barrier.
Here's a choice option for those who want to reap madecassoside's many benefits but may not love the feeling of a heavier cream or balm. This featherweight serum absorbs instantly and is loaded with not only madecassoside (used here for the soothing and collagen-boosting effects) but also plenty of other youth-boosting and moisturizing ingredients—hyaluronic acid and peptides, to name a few.
"This cream improves and soothes the skin with three active ingredients, including madecassoside, panthenol, and cypress tree extracts," says Chang. It also touts softening squalane and soothing allantoin.