Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract: What Is It, Skin Benefits, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

This article was last updated on: August 29, 2023

Navigating the cosmetics aisle can often feel like falling down a rabbit hole into a world of scientific nomenclature. There’s a thrilling galaxy of ingredients, many with names that sound more like complex chemistry equations than entities meant to grace your skin.

Take, for example, one such ingredient that often slips unnoticed into your skincare: Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract. Don’t let this tongue-twister of a name deter you—it might just be the miracle worker your skincare regimen has been craving.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract is sometimes found hiding within the ingredient lists of your cosmetic products, quietly doing its job without much fanfare. But why? What makes it a key player in the skincare game?

This article will illuminate the obscure yet fascinating world of Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract; we’ll delve into its core functions, unveil its potential benefits for your skin, and explore its usage within cosmetics.

What is Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract?

Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, also known as licorice root extract, is derived from the roots of the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant, a legume native to Southern Europe and parts of Asia. This plant is more commonly known as licorice, and its roots have been utilized for centuries in traditional medicine for their extensive health benefits.

Don’t be deceived by its exotic scientific title—this extract is a frequently employed powerhouse in the cosmetics industry. Its general purpose within skincare and beauty products is multifaceted. It is recognized for its skin-soothing properties, smoothing and emollient capabilities, and even its bleaching effect.

Regarding bleaching, it is a natural alternative to chemical skin-lightening agents by inhibiting the enzyme that causes skin darkening in response to sun exposure.

The concentration of Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract in cosmetic products can vary widely depending on the product’s function and formulation. It can be incorporated into a broad formulation of ingredients or procured as a stand-alone product, particularly in serums targeting specific skin concerns.

Who Can Use Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract?

Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract is a versatile ingredient suitable for various skin types, including sensitive and dry skin, thanks to its soothing and conditioning properties. However, its skin-lightening potential can also make it an attractive ingredient for addressing hyperpigmentation issues.

For those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract is plant-derived, making it a very suitable active ingredient to add into your skincare routine.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women must consult with their healthcare provider before introducing this ingredient into their skincare routine, as its safety for those individuals isn’t well documented. While Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract is considered safe for cosmetic use, discussions with a healthcare provider can help ensure there aren’t any specific concerns or contraindications in individual cases.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract Skin Benefits

Unveiling the skin benefits of Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract feels akin to opening a treasure chest of skincare gems. Here’s a look at some of the key benefits that make this ingredient a prized component of many cosmetic formulations.

  • Bleaching / Skin Brightening: Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract is rich in a compound called glabridin, inhibiting melanin production, helping to lighten skin tone and diminish the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Unlike chemical bleaching agents, this natural derivative does this without causing harmful side effects or skin damage. It’s a gentle alternative for those seeking a brighter complexion and even skin tone.
  • Emollient: As an emollient, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract helps create a protective barrier on the skin’s surface. This prevents moisture loss from the deeper layers of the skin, ensuring lasting hydration and smooth texture. Maintaining the skin’s moisture balance keeps the skin looking fresh and healthy without directly impacting its condition or appearance.
  • Skin Conditioning and Smoothing: Rich in antioxidants and phytosterols, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract helps improve skin elasticity, making it smoother and softer to the touch. It enhances hydration levels, repairing dry and flaky skin and replenishing suppleness.
  • Soothing: Licorice root extract is known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties. It helps calm irritated skin, soothe redness, and reduce inflammation. This is particularly beneficial for sensitive skin types and conditions like rosacea and acne.

Please note that the beneficial effects of Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, like any other skincare ingredient, are not permanent. The secret to reaping these benefits lies in consistent and sustained usage.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract’s Non-active Cosmetic Uses

Beyond the active roles Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract plays in skincare, this multifaceted ingredient also has a non-active use:

  • Perfuming: A non-active yet vital role of this extract is its use as a natural fragrance in cosmetics. Its sweet, warm aroma can elevate the sensory experience of using a product, making the skincare routine feel more pleasant and indulgent. It stands to note that while this aromatic property doesn’t directly contribute to skin health, it enhances the overall user experience and satisfaction with a product.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract Potential Side Effects

It’s worth noting that, like any cosmetic ingredient, side effects and reactions to Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract can vary significantly from person to person. This variance is primarily due to the unique nature of our skin, which can be influenced by numerous factors, including our skin type, genetic factors, environmental influences, and overall health. If you’re not certain about your skin type, consult this helpful guide to find your skin type.

Potential side effects and interactions, although rare, might include:

  • Irritation or Allergic Reactions: Some people may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions such as redness, itching, or swelling. This is more likely to occur in individuals with sensitive skin or those allergic to the licorice plant.
  • Hormonal Fluctuations: As the licorice root extract contains a component called glycyrrhizin, there are concerns that high or prolonged use may impact hormone levels. However, this is more common with oral consumption than topical application.

If one were to experience any of these side effects, it’s vital to discontinue the use of the product immediately and consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist. They can provide helpful advice concerning the adverse reaction and guide how to proceed.

Remember that adverse reactions to Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract are rare. Generally speaking, the ingredient is safe and effective when used as directed.

As with any new skincare product, the importance of patch testing cannot be overstated. It’s a simple measure that can prevent unpleasant surprises and help you ensure the product is compatible with your skin. If you’re new to patch testing, our thorough patch testing guide provides a step-by-step process to help you get started.

Comedogenic Rating

Regarding its comedogenicity, or the ability to block pores and potentially cause acne, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract sits comfortably at a 0 – this rating signifies that it’s non-comedogenic and unlikely to clog your pores, leading to potential breakouts.

The reason for this low rating lies in its natural composition. Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract doesn’t contain heavy oils or elements that could contribute to pore congestion. Moreover, its anti-inflammatory properties can be an ally to acne-prone skin by helping to soothe and reduce acne-related redness and inflammation. Therefore, this ingredient is generally safe and suitable for individuals prone to breakouts or acne.


In the realm of skincare, finding what works for you often involves a process of experimentation and trial and error. It’s about exploring different ingredients and understanding their impact on your unique skin needs.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract is an ingredient that offers both active and passive effects that immediately benefit the skin. The active benefits are visible in brighter, smoother, and calmer skin. At the same time, its non-active roles contribute to improving the texture, fragrance, and user experience of a skincare product.

Opting for products containing Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract could be tantalizing for anyone looking for a natural, multi-benefit addition to their skincare regime. The fact that it is plant-based, low in comedogenic rating, and potentially beneficial for a range of skin types and concerns makes it a compelling choice.

As for its popularity, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract is not an avant-garde ingredient by any means, but it’s certainly not mainstream either. It’s like a secret nestled within various skincare products’ formulations, quietly working its magic.

In terms of efficacy, like most skincare ingredients, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract isn’t a quick fix. Depending on your skin type and concerns, you may need to sustain usage over a few weeks to months to see noticeable improvements.

Finally, while this ingredient offers promising benefits, it’s crucial to remember that skincare is highly personal. It’s normal to have concerns or questions about any new ingredient. Always listen to your skin and consult with a skincare professional if needed.

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