More and more, we see brands turning to natural, non-western remedies to solve today's skin problems. So if we were to tell you that the under-the-radar skin secret for pristinely even tone and texture lay in the self-healing practices of Asian tigers, would you believe us?
If you've seen Dr. Jart+'s popular Cicapair™ line, that's precisely what you've been looking at. You might remember when they garnered a fanatical following after launching their original tiger grass products: Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30 ($52) and Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Cream ($49). It turns out tiger grass is somewhat of a skincare super-ingredient. But Dr. Jart+ isn't the only brand to embrace it. Products with tiger grass have multiplied and gained a cult-like following in the skincare industry and community—which got us thinking: What exactly is tiger grass, and why is it so buzzworthy? We turned to dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal to find out.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Karan Lal is a board-certified dermatologist. He practices at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New Jersey.
Keep reading to discover the wonders of tiger grass plus our favorite products featuring this highly sought-after ingredient.
- Type of ingredient: Antioxidant
- Main benefits: Reduces inflammation, color corrects, and facilitates wound healing.
- Who should use it: In general, anyone with sensitive, dry, and/or irritated skin.
- How often can you use it: Begin using several times a week before slowly working your way up to daily usage.
- Works well with: Hyaluronic acid and glycerin. When combined with moisturizers, it can enhance the skin's ability to retain water and improve hydration.
What Is Tiger Grass?
Tiger grass (technically known as Centella asiatica, cica, or sometimes gotu kola) is a prime ingredient for complete skin recovery. It's an age-old healing tradition used by none other than (wait for it) tigers. It's even used to treat severe conditions like leprosy, lupus, ulcers, psoriasis, and eczema. "Tiger grass is a botanical antioxidant from Asia that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, and wound healing properties. Tigers were found to roll in this botanical after trauma to help with wounds. It has become a popular natural universal skincare ingredient (like aloe)," Lal tells us. Its true power seems to lie not in the leaf but in its water; water, which, according to Dr. Jart+, has an immediate soothing effect and can even encourage new skin cell growth. And not only that, but its many proponents hail the ingredient as the ultimate miracle worker for uneven skin tone and, in particular, redness. Beautifully green and rich in chlorophyll, tiger grass promises to enhance the skin's look and feel by making it stronger and more supple. Additionally, it has a high nutrient content featuring some heavy hitters: zinc, selenium, copper, amino acids, and beta-carotene, to name a few. Thus, it’s an excellent idea to go about our lives with it slathered all over our faces. And thanks to many beauty lines, that’s 110 percent possible.
Benefits of Tiger Grass for Skin
- Wound Healing: Helps speed tissue regeneration in wounds, including acne scars.
- Reduces Inflammation: Packed with saponins (anti-inflammatories), tiger grass calms irritated skin.
- Improves Dullness: Contributes to a brighter and more glowing complexion thanks to its hydrating properties.
- Anti-Aging: Promotes and regulates collagen production (which slows down as we age), thereby increasing skin's firmness.
- Protects Skin: It acts as a barrier against free radicals, pollutants, and environmental stressors.
- Color-Corrects: Addresses redness (including rosacea), hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.
- Antibacterial Agent: High levels of antioxidants lead to increased levels of antimicrobials, which may help combat acne.
- Soothes Sensitive Skin: Given its healing properties and the fact that it's full of nutrients, tiger grass is ideal for those with sensitive skin and is sometimes used to treat eczema.
How to Use It
While tiger grass is lauded by many—including those with sensitive skin—it's still wise to perform a patch test first to ensure you have no allergic reaction. "Allergic or irritant reactions to this product are rare because it is often an additive and not a stand-alone ingredient (like aloe)," explains Lal. Still, as with many products, they might include a local allergic reaction and burning. If that happens, you may want to consider trying products with aloe vera and/or colloidal oatmeal instead. While they're not exactly the same as tiger grass, they can be a good alternative.
Then again, if all looks good post-patch test, you can go ahead and use tiger grass several times a week, and eventually daily. "It can be used any time of day to help with dry skin or in lieu of a moisturizer," Lal says. Tiger grass can also be used as a primer before applying any makeup. "It is great for all skin types but works best for patients with dry skin (atopic dermatitis, hand dermatitis, xerosis cutis, allergic or irritant contact dermatitis)," adds Lal. And because it's such a popular ingredient, you can find various skincare products featuring tiger grass, from serums to masks. To maximize its benefits, we recommend applying and wearing a tiger grass cream or serum for an extended period, either all day or overnight.
The Best Products With Tiger Grass
Formulated to be used after toning and before moisturizing, this particular serum is infused with the line’s trademark Cicapair complex meant to help relieve redness and irritation with as little as one drop (pea-size, to be precise). With tiger grass's history rooted in healing and recovery, the serum may help those who struggle with acne, rosacea, or sensitive skin.
The longer you keep tiger grass on your skin, the more you may reap its benefits. That's why introducing a tiger grass-infused product into your nighttime skincare routine is key. Without batting an eye, this soothing gel mask works to improve your skin's texture by increasing moisture. You'll wake up with a brighter glow, giving "beauty rest" a whole new meaning.
La Roche-Posay is perhaps one of the most highly recommended skincare brands among derms— and for good reason. Formulated with cica, B vitamins, and shea butter, this balm by La Roche-Posay is Lal's go-to for hand eczema or dry hands.
Gotu kola is another name for tiger grass, and this balm is based around it as an ingredient. Also included are raspberry seed oil rich in omega fatty acids, and candelilla wax, which is used in place of beeswax to create a rich emollient texture.
The only thing more beautiful than the packaging for this serum is your skin after using it. Seriously—it makes us happy every time we see it on our vanity. The brand uses a combination of madecassoide (a form of centella extract) and niacinamide meant to stop any skin inflammation and hyaluronic acid meant to keep your skin hydrated. Plus, the included peptides promise to stimulate the collagen production, and its peach extract base contains loads of vitamins. No need to layer serums anymore; this one has you covered for everything.
K-beauty brand Innisfree is known for its low-priced and effective products, and their volcanic pore-clearing masks are some of their best-sellers. You can even mix and match them; this one has cica, but other options include brightening, hydrating, and soothing. They're meant for multi-masking, and at a price point of $13, that's pretty accessible.
If you're a skin picker, you know the cycle of waking up with a zit, picking at it for what feels like a second, and then being stuck with a scab. (Sometimes, the zit doesn't even go away). This is what the Centella Blemish Cream is for—calming acne and dealing with the effects of what we do to our acne. It promises to lighten the skin, heal the scab, and make the whole mess a lot more concealable.
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