Zoom on: licorice root extract

Yes, licorice is not just a sweetie! You may be surprised to learn that it is an ingredient commonly used in cosmetics. On the labels you will find it most often called "licorice root extract. Basically, this extract is derived from the roots of several species of Glycyrhizza. It has been used for more than 4000 years in Chinese medicine and has made its place globally in the pharmaceutical industry!

In practical terms, why is it so often used in cosmetics and what is its usefulness? It goes without saying that the literature about licorice extract is well developed and that we have a fairly important decline! At the topical level, it would have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and brightening effects.

The anti-inflammatory effect of licorice extract is mainly attributed to glycyrrethic acid which is the active metabolite of glycyrrhizic acid, a compound of licorice root extract. Some studies have shown that this compound has a similar effect to corticosteroids, making it attractive as an anti-inflammatory agent. It would sometimes be used in ointments, in the treatment of certain skin problems such as chronic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.


Studies have shown that certain compounds of several species Glycyrhizza have an antioxidant effect. This is the case, among others, with 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid and glabridin that could block DNA fragmentation and induction of apoptosis (programmed cell death) of keratinocytes, which are contained in the superficial layer of the skin and play a role in the protection of the latter.

Finally, licorice extract would be used in skin lightening treatments. It is one of its compounds, the glabridin that would be partly responsible for this effect. This avenue is interesting since licorice extract would be considered one of the safest options among lightening agents.

In the light of the literature available on licorice extract, it goes without saying that this extract is very interesting for the world of skin care and cosmetics. However, as with many other ingredients, attributing to him alone several miraculous virtues would be dangerous and exaggerated.

Conclusion, we do not hesitate to consider it in our care products, but we remain realistic about its effects and the expectations we bring to it ...

References :

Baumann, Leslie. Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients (251). McGraw-Hill Education. Kindle Edition.

Evans FQ. The rational use of glycyrrhetinic acid in dermatology. Br J Clin Pract. 1958; 12: 269.

Leyden JJ, Shergill B, Micali G, et al. Natural options for the management of hyperpigmentation. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2011; 25: 1140.

Ohuchi K, Kamada Y, Levine L, et al. Glycyrrhizin inhibited prostaglandin E2 production by activated peritoneal macrophages from rats. Prostaglandins Med. 1981; 7: 457.

Okimasu E, Moromizato Y, Watanabe S, et al. Inhibition of A2 phospholipase and platelet aggregation by glycyrrhizin, anti-inflammatory drug. Acta Med Okayama. 1983; 37: 385.

Veratti E, Rossi T, Giudice S, et al. 18beta-glycyrrhetinic acid and glabridin prevent oxidative DNA fragmentation in UVB-irradiated human keratinocyte cultures. Anticancer Res. 2011; 31: 2209.


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