By Dr. Eddie Valenzuela

Licorice Root Extract is a plant extract that has shown to have skin soothing properties that can aid eczema and other skin conditions. This natural plant extract, often referred to as Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, has many qualities that work at a molecular level to make it efficient for soothing sensitive, red skin.

Licorice Root Extract for skin you say? Why? In short, we use it because of its redness reducing properties when used on the skin. As the name implies, this natural ingredient comes from a plant root, and has been used for thousands of years for its healing properties when consumed orally. The FDA also considers it safe to include in food products like chewing gum, baked goods, vitamins, soft candy and even in beverages (in certain amounts) [2]. Let’s delve deeper into its origin, effectiveness and safety.

Where does the extract come from? According to the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries, the Licorice Root plant has a scientific name of Glycyrrhiza glabra and Glycyrrhiza inflata. The roots of these two plants are wild-harvested and tend to be 3 to 4 years old before they can be harvested and processed to obtain the essence that we include in our products.

The extract of Licorice Root is produced by boiling the roots and subsequently evaporating most of the water and then other manufacturing processes are applied to produce more the pure extract of the Licorice Root that can be found in premium cosmetics like Happy Cappy.

Interestingly, unprocessed licorice extract is not commonly used directly in cosmetics because it lacks potency and it has a strong smell [1].

Once processed, Licorice root is called by many scientific names. The version of it we use in Happy Cappy is called Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate. We chose this version of the Licorice Root Extract for skin because it is not absorbed through the skin [2]. Even the versions below that are absorbed by the skin are considered safe but we wanted to go the extra mile. You may also see Licorice Root Extract referred to as: Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Potassium Glycyrrhetinate, Glycyrrhizic Acid, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate, and others.

Licorice Root Extract and it’s benefits for the skin

This natural plant extract has a firm place in Japanese cosmetics. In fact, it is referred to as a “Quasi Drug” there. What is a Quasi Drug? In Japan they have 3 categories of Drug: medical drug, quasi drug or cosmetic [3]. This is perhaps similar to the American system of cosmetics, OTC, and prescription. An example of an OTC in the United states is ibuprofen, it is a safe medication most of us have used for reducing pain and fever.

This root extract enjoys the designation of Quasi Drug in Japan, and they’ve enjoyed the proven positive effects of Licorice Root Extract for skin use so much that they gave it the equivalent of a United States OTC designation. Beside its benefit for reducing irritation, it has been used in Japan to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and even to prevent skin sagging [1]!

Studies have also shown Licorice Root Extract help reduce redness and skin damage caused by UV ray exposure [4].

Happy Cappy and Licorice Root Extract

Licorice Root Extract benefits for skin are many and varied. We at Happy Cappy decided to include this safe and effective ingredient in our Medicated Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis and Dandruff, in our Body Wash for Eczema, and in our Moisturizing Cream because of its ability to soothe irritated skin.

  1. Exporting liquorice extract for cosmetics to Europe.” CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Updated December 19, 2017. https://www.cbi.eu/market-information/natural-ingredients-cosmetics/liquorice-extract/
  2. “Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Potassium Glycyrrhetinate, Disodium Succinoyl Glycyrrhetinate, Glyceryl Glycyrrhetinate, Glycyrrhetinyl Stearate, Steryl Glycyrrhetinate, Glycyrrhizic Acid, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Disodium Glycyrrhizate, Trisodium Glycyrrhizate, Methyl Glycyrrhizate, and Potassium Glycyrrhizate.” IJT 26(Suppl. 2):79-112, 2007. https://online.personalcarecouncil.org/jsp/CIRList.jsp?id=2761
  3. Wonect Team. Japanese Skincare: Understanding Quasi Drugs and Cosmetics.” Wonect.Life. Published October 24, 2017. Updated April17, 2019. https://wonect.life/understanding-quasi-drugs-cosmetics/
  4. Yutaka Ogura, et al. : Pharmaco Metrics, 9 (6): 833-894, 1975.