I Attribute My Even-Toned, “Amazing” Skin to This 1 Cica Serum

Dr. Jart+ Cica Serum

Please believe me when I say the following sentence is not a humble brag: Whenever I get a facial, the esthetician tells me I have amazing skin. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this kind of compliment (especially from a skincare professional!) always thrills me — and sends me out the door with a spring in my step. But don’t resent me too much! The esthetician typically follows that kind remark with a caveat: “You need to stop overdoing it on the exfoliation.” 

It’s advice that I’ve been trying to take to heart in recent months, but admittedly, I find this tip a hard one to adhere to. I am a huge believer in chemical peels and alpha-hydroxy acids, and for good reason. Regular chemical exfoliation (a.k.a., the removal of dead skin cells with acids in lieu of scrubs) stimulates cellular turnover, a process that begins to slow in your twenties. Boosted cellular turnover means glowier, firmer, smoother skin. Considering that I’m in my early thirties, I’m clawing onto those benefits as aggressively as humanly possible, in hopes of setting myself up for success in later years.

However, because I exfoliate a little too frequently (closer to four times a week when it should be twice), my skin tends to appear dehydrated, even sometimes a bit irritated, under the harsh glow of an esthetician’s lamp. To the casual observer, though, I have no redness. This wasn’t always the case: I am extremely fair, and the area around my nose always used to be pretty red, which is why I started using concealer in middle school. And, of course, due to all of my (mis)adventures with chemical exfoliation, the area had stayed pretty red. I attribute my even complexion to my religious use of Dr. Jart+® Cicapair® Tiger Grass Serum ($46).

I’ve been using this serum for a few years now, and bought it on after seeing all of its positive reviews. “[It’s the] only thing that works!” cries one. “Some sort of witchcraft magic potion!” declares another. And, frankly, I agree. The gel-serum formula is lightweight and absorbs quickly, yet leaves my skin feeling hydrated, and it’s positively loaded with powerhouse skin-soothing ingredients. 

Recently, Dr. Jart+ reformulated this product to make it even more effective: it now includes JartbiomeTM, a proprietary blend of probiotics. According to Misha Lema, Retail Marketing Manager for Dr. Jart+, the cocktail of good bacteria works to protect your skin from environmental irritants. Ultimately, this helps replenish and rebalance your skin’s microbiome, or natural bacterial ecosystem. The original ingredients in the formula that work to soothe your complexion include magnesium and (obviously) tiger grass.

Perhaps better known as cica, tiger grass (or centella asiatica), is an herb that has been used for millennia. Lema says that the brand coined the term in honor of the original cica fans: Bengal tigers, who were observed rolling around in the grass after sparring over territory and food. “Scientists studying these tigers noticed this peculiar behavior, so they took centella asiatica back to the lab where they discovered its powerful wound healing abilities,” notes Lema. In addition to healing wounds, it helps fight inflammation, and repair a damaged skin barrier — all issues that I have self-inflicted with my hyper exfoliation. 

When I severely over-exfoliated during a love affair with a new retinol formula, the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Serum was one of only two products that didn’t feel like it was burning my skin on contact. I fully believe that its use during that time helped me get over my sensitization faster. It’s for that reason that every single time I use an overnight chemical exfoliant, I slather a layer of the Tiger Grass Serum on top. 

[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.]

Whether it’s an accurate perception or not, I feel like I’m feeding my skin. It’s almost as if the formula is a huge gulp of green juice — and, to be fair, it is literally green! — delivering much-needed nourishment. I’m so hooked, in fact, that I’m on my second bottle. (By the way, as a packaging junkie, I’m a huge fan of this product’s dropper — it automatically doses out the perfect amount of serum when you unscrew the cap.) Many Sephora reviewers also share that they repurchase this product again and again to help soothe their rosacea, acne-prone skin, and more. Until I learn to cut back on acids, I’ll rely on Tiger Grass Serum to keep my skin looking and feeling “amazing.”

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