Powerful Molecule Contained in Licorice Root Extract
The Essential Info
Licochalcone is a molecule derived from a specific species of Chinese licorice root that helps calm acne-prone skin through its ability to:
- Control oil production: Less skin oil normally means less acne
- Keep acne bacteria in check: Acne is in part a bacterial disease
- Reduce inflammation: Acne is at its root a chronic inflammatory disease
What Is Licochalcone?
Licorice root has been used in skin care for millennia. According to the National Cancer Institute, licorice root has “potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidant…activities.”
Licochalcone is a specific molecule contained in licorice root extract which helps control oil production, is anti-bacterial, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.1-4 In short, it helps calm and soothe acne-prone skin.
Expand the section below if you would like to read about the evidence showing that licochalcone may help with acne.2-4
Expand to read research evidence on licochalcone and acne
My Bottom Line on It
“I am skeptical of most extracts that come along, but when I learned about licochalcone at the Society of Cosmetic Chemists meeting about 12 years ago, I found it intriguing and decided it was worth a closer look. After doing more research, I found myself impressed by its potential. Several trustworthy mentors of mine in the acne community also espoused its oil-reducing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory capabilities–specifically its ability to interrupt the inflammation cascade right where acne-prone skin needs it. But as we all know, the proof is in the pudding. So I worked with our team of biochemists to make some test products with this ingredient, and I loved what they did for my skin. It is an extremely expensive ingredient to include, particularly when using it at its efficacious level, but I made the decision that it was worth it.”Dan Kern, Acne.org founder
One Challenge It Presents
Licochalcone is not run-of-the-mill licorice root extract. Instead, it is one molecule from a specific species of licorice root extract that is isolated for our use. This makes it very expensive (over $7000 per kilogram). This is why you will not see it used in many products.
Where to Get It
Our store: Licochalcone is a key ingredient in Acne.org Moisturizer and Acne.org AHA+ (10% glycolic acid plus lichochalcone).
- Definition of licorice root extract. National Cancer Institute Drug Dictionary. 11 Jun. 2008. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/licorice-root-extract
- Yang, G., Lee, H. E., Yeon, S. H., Kang, H. C., Cho, Y. Y., Lee, H. S., Zouboulis, C. C., Han, S. H., Lee, J. H. & Lee, J. Y. Licochalcone A attenuates acne symptoms mediated by suppression of NLRP3 inflammasome. Phytother. Res. 32, 2551-2559 (2018). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30281174
- Dall’Oglio, F., Fabbrocini, G., Tedeschi, A., Donnarumma, M., Chiodini, P. & Micali, G. Licochalcone A in combination with salicylic acid as fluid based and hydroxy-complex 10% cream for the treatment of mild acne: A multicenter prospective trial. Clin. Cosmet. Investig. Dermatol. 12, 961-967 (2019). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32099436
- Kantikosum, K., Chongpison, Y., Chottawornsak, N. & Asawanonda, P. The efficacy of glycolic acid, salicylic acid, gluconolactone, and licochalcone A combined with 0.1% adapalene vs adapalene monotherapy in mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris: a double-blinded within-person comparative study. Clin. Cosmet. Investig. Dermatol. 12, 151-161 (2019). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30858720