Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is known for its aromatic roots. In traditional medicine, licorice is recognised for its capabilities in treating colds, soothing cardiac pain, aiding digestion and calming coughing fits. Nowadays, licorice extract is used in cosmetic formulations thanks to its brightening, antioxidant and soothing properties.
What are the benefits of licorice extract for your skin?
- 1. Licorice extract for soothing sensitive or reactive skin
- 2. Licorice extract to reduce the appearance of pigmentation marks and spots
- 3. Licorice extract to fight against oxidative stress
- Our serum with licorice extract
1. Licorice extract for soothing sensitive or reactive skin.
Licorice extract has a high content of glycyrrhizic acid, a natural saponin that gives it its sweet flavor, which is why it’s often used as a sweetener. A study has shown that the effects of glycyrrhizic acid are similar to that of deoxycorticosterone, a molecule recognised for its anti-inflammatory action in pharmaceuticals. Because of this, licorice extract soothes irritated skin, redness, and itching. It’s especially effective for reactive skin, and is described as a natural cortisone because of its effective eczema relief.
2. Licorice extract to reduce the appearance of pigmentation marks and spots.
Pigmentation marks affect the complexion. Some people like them and may even accenturate them, but others may struggle with their appearance. By definition, hyperpigmentation is caused by an irregularity within the pigmentation process. In other words, there is an overproduction of melanin in certain areas. leading to pigmentation marks, which fall into three categories: melasma or pregnancy mask, caused by hormonal imbalances; lentigo or sun spots, caused by excessive and repeated sun exposure; and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by an overproduction of melanin after an inflammation (injuries, burns, spots, acne).
Licorice extract is often referred to as natural hydroquinone because of its pigmentation-regulating capabilities. It’s gentler and better tolerated by the skin than hydroquinone, which has been banned in all cosmetic products under European law since 2001 due to its carcinogenic potential.
Licorice extract’s effectiveness against pigmentation marks is down to its glabridine content, a powerful depigmenting agent known for its lightening properties. It helps to inhibit the tyrosinase responsible for the production of melanin. Quite simply, less melanin means less pigmentation, fewer dark spots and a more even complexion.
Please note: At Typology, we use "Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract". It contains more than 95% glabridine to inhibit melanin production, so it’s great for reducing the appearance of pigmentation marks. However, it is also possible to extract glycyrrhetinic acid (INCI name: "Glycyrrhetinic Acid") from licorice. This compound works in the opposite way to "Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract". In fact, it is pro-melanin, meaning that it stimulates melanogenesis as your skin starts to tan. It is often found in self-tanning treatments.
3. Licorice extract to fight against oxidative stress.
The glabridine we mentioned earlier isn’t only great for lightening but also has antioxidant properties.
In fact, this polyphenolic flavonoid protects the skin from free radicals. As a reminder, free radicals are reactive oxygen molecules naturally produced by the body. However, when cells encounter stress, they produce too many, which is called oxidative stress. There are several causes, the most important being exposure to UV rays, pollution, smoking, or a diet rich in fatty or sugary foods. Free radicals are especially unstable due to their single electron. They tend to react with other molecules to form an electron pair, causing damage by attacking healthy molecules in the body, like the lipids which make up cell membranes (lipid peroxidation). This accelerates skin aging and wrinkles appear on the skin’s surface.
Glabridine molecules found in liquorice extract specifically neutralize the superoxide anion, denoted O₂.⁻, preventing it from harming and degrading healthy compounds present in the skin. In this way, liquorice extract delays aging and protects skin cells from external irritants.
Our serum with licorice extract.
Typology’s anti-mark serum is packed with licorice extract as well as brightening and healing ingredients like gluconolactone from the PHA category and extract of Centella asiatica. It is recommended for those who want to reduce the appearance of their acne scarring. Use it in the evening, only in affected areas.
MORTON J. F. Major medicinal plants : botany, culture, and uses (1977).
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).