Ingredient focus | Licorice Root

I used to get an edible twig at the candy store. That twig turned out to be licorice root. I didn’t like it very much. I remember chewing it for hours, hoping it would taste better.

Nowadays I often see licorice root in skin care. My favorite brand Pyunkang Yul uses it in some of their product. And the Indonesian skin care brand HALE. uses it. Unfortunately I have never been able to use some of their products, because they don’t ship to the Netherlands yet. So I don’t really have an opinion about it, but I follow their Insta.

But because I encounter the ingredient licorice root so often in skin care, I started to wonder what exactly it does to the skin. In other words, what benefits does it have? Time to find out.

What is licorice root?

Licorice root comes from the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant. The plant is originally from EUR Aisa, North Africa and West Asia. Nowadays you can find the plant all over the world.

The Glycyrrhiza glabra plant
Photo: fedsax via Getty Images

The plant contains a sweetener that is called glycyrrhizic acid. It is 30 to 50 times sweeter than sugar. That is why it’s often used in candy. But this sweetener can also increase blood pressure, so be careful with it.

The medicanal properties of licorice root have been credited for thousands of years. People found that it could inhibit inflammation and infection. So it was mostly used for coughs, sore throats and skin infections. But the properties of licorice root are also great for skin care.

The benefits of licorice root

Much research has been done on the benefits of licorice root for the skin. That’s why it’s frequently used in skin care products.

1. It protects the skin

Licorice root contains a lot of antioxidants that protects your skin. Besides licorice root helps keep the skin strong and supple. It’s therefor ideal for dry and sensitive skin.

2. It calms the skin

Licorice root contains many substances that have a calming effect for the skin. It also helps to reduce redness. So it’s very suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin.

3. It reduces skin discoloration

Licorice root reduces skin discoloration. It ensures that superficial pigmentation spots become less visible. Therefor it’s an excellent whitening ingredient!

How do you know if your skin care products contain licorice root?

To recognize licorice root in the ingredients list, look for the following words: licorice root (or a variant of this word) or a word that resembles the Latin name of the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra. Like Glycyrrhetinic acid or Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate.

Licorice root is a very expensive skin care ingredient. So if your skin care product with licorice root wasn’t that expensive, chances are that it contains very little licorice root or a diluted extract. That makes it less effective. Licorice root is effective for your skin when the concentration is 1-2%.

Front photo: alexander ruiz via Getty Images

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