Licorice in Cosmetics

so what is licorice doing in cosmetics?

I’m going to get this over with now, this post is sadly not about the popular movie theater candy. As much as I love snacking on Twizzlers, this post will be just as sweet (get it?) I promise. Licorice is grown from the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra, a plant grown in various parts around the world. Along with being used in food, beverage, and tobacco products, various parts of the licorice plant are used for health and wellness treatments. Licorice extract contains a variety of different compounds that have been studied for their effects in cosmetics, particularly for skin care products. Glycyrrhizic acid is the compound that provides the sweet flavor that is used in the candy product. Glycyrrhizic acid is also one of the major active ingredients that provide many benefits to the skin. After reviewing the scientific literature on licorice extracts in cosmetics, this ingredient has been cited to be a potent anti-aging ingredient, antioxidant, skin brightener, and treats photoaged skin.

scientific literature review

As I mentioned earlier, licorice extract contains many compounds that have different effects on our skin. Some of the many purposes licorice extract has in cosmetics includes anti-inflammatory, skin whitening, and assistance with photoaged skin. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry looked at the inhibitory effects that two components of licorice extract, glabrene, and isoliquirtigenin have on tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is the compound that causes the formation of melanin that can cause hyperpigmentation and dark spots. This mechanism of action explains the whitening effects this ingredient can have on skin. 

Additionally, many mechanism-based studies look at how this ingredient acts when exposed to UV-B radiation. A study from the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology looked at how participants reacted after being exposed to UV irritation and then receiving licochalcone A extract (derived from licorice root). The 12 participants found a statistically significant decrease in post-UV exposure erythema.

Overall, licorice extract appears to be an effect natural ingredient. While not super commonly used in formulation, licorice extract is used in a variety of cosmetic products. Below my roommate reviewed a few anti-redness product that contained glycyrrhizic acid. 

licorice in cosmetics

First Aid Beauty Anti-Redness Serum: I had high hopes for this serum, with the good customer reviews I saw online and the fact that the price of this was $36 at Sephora. Although in my use, it did not really do much for me, honestly. It seemed as though it instantaneously gave me even redder skin when I would put it on, but then didn’t go down much more than before after use. I used it for about a week straight, but it does not seem to have made a difference. I think I will stick to a hydrating serum every night and morning, but look into something that won’t irritate my skin the way this product seems to.

Eucerin Redness Relief Cleanser: This product was I believe only about $5, and for what it was worth I think that it worked pretty well. I don’t know what the redness relieving properties were of this product but I did notice that my redness was typically alleviated. It did not diminish it all together but I was happier with my overall complexion. My use of this was followed by Neutrogena’s alcohol-free toner, FAB Ultra Repair hydrating serum, and Olay complete all-day moisturizer.

Have you ever used any products containing licorice extract? What did you think? Let me know with any comments or questions below! 




4 thoughts on “Licorice in Cosmetics

  1. rosarita313 says:

    I think licorice has been in several products I’ve tried but I only recall Aveeno moisturizer which didn’t do anything. But, if you are interested in eliminating redness, I can highly recommend It Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness correcting cream. I’m old enough to be your mom if not your grandma but redness from acne scarring is my issue and this cream is amazing. A tiny dot is plenty buffed on with a brush or beauty blender sponge, I think this jar will last for ages maybe a lifetime. I’m not affiliated with It Cosmetics, just a happy customer. Love the blog, always learn something new 😊


    • Paige DeGarmo says:

      Hi, thank you so much for the recommendations! I have so many people I can pass that onto. Thanks so much for following along I appreciate it so much! 🙂


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