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How Is Licorice Root Extract Obtained?

How Is Licorice Root Extract Obtained?

Licorice root extract is increasingly used in skin care due to its antioxidant, brightening and soothing benefits. This ingredient is extracted from the roots of licorice root, a plant in the butterfly family (Fabaceae) related to wisteria, clover and pea.

Licorice Root Extract and Its Production Process

Licorice, botanically named Glycyrrhiza glabra L., thrives in a continental climate. The main producers of this plant are Russia, China, Turkey, Bulgaria, Italy, Iraq and Iran. To obtain the licorice root extract commonly used in cosmetics, several steps are required:

  1. The roots are harvested in spring and fall from plants that are at least three years old;

  2. They are then cleaned and freed from buds and roots;

  3. The roots are either dried slowly in a dry place in the shade for several months, or quickly in the sun or in the oven (in special ovens at low temperature);

  4. Finally, they are peeled and ground into powder.

Licorice Root Extract and Its Effect on Skin

First of all, licorice root extract is often compared to hydroquinone because of its pigment-regulating properties. It has the advantage of being gentler and more skin-friendly than hydroquinone, which has been banned by EU regulation in all cosmetic products since 2001 due to its carcinogenic potential. The effectiveness of licorice root extract is due to the presence of glabridin, a powerful depigmenting agent known for its brightening effect and its action against pigmentation spots. It is able to inhibit tyrosinase, which is responsible for melanin production. The equation is simple: less melanin means less pigment, fewer brown spots and a more even complexion.

Secondly, licorice root extract helps to effectively limit skin aging caused by oxidative stress. Indeed, the flavonoids contained in it specifically neutralize the superoxide anion called O₂.- and prevent it from reacting and thus degrading the healthy components of the skin (lipids, proteins, DNA). Thus, this herbal agent protects the skin from accelerated aging caused by external factors such as UV rays, pollution, smoking, etc.

Finally, glycyrrhizic acid contained in licorice root extract is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It relieves irritated skin, redness as well as itching. It is especially effective for atopic skin. It is often referred to as a natural cortisone: It effectively relieves eczema.

In Which Skin Care Products Can You Find Licorice Root Extract at Typology?

The serum against skin marks is a formula designed to soften the appearance of acne scars and pigmentation spots. Licorice root extract is combined with other brightening and repairing ingredients such as gluconolactone from the P.H.A. category and Centella asiatica extract. It is applied only in the evening, and locally, only on the affected areas.

Sources :

  • CAEL D. Contribution à l'étude de la réglisse (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) : ses utilisations thérapeutiques et alimentaires. Thèse de l'Université H. POINCARE - Nancy (2009).

  • SARKAR R. & al. Cosmeceuticals for hyperpigmentation: what is available ? Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery (2013).

  • FRATTARUOLO L. & al. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of flavanones from Glycyrrhiza glabra L. (licorice) leaf phytocomplexes: identification of licoflavanone as a modulator of NF-kB/MAPK pathway. Antioxidants (Basel) (2019).


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