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!