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Liquorice, an old favourite in cosmetics.

Liquorice is one of the oldest ingredients known to mankind, and has always been known as more than just a simple sweet. It was thought to have healing and rejuvenating properties in ancient China, as well as in Egypt, Greece, and Rome (the Egyptians discovered its healing powers in the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun.)

Liquorice root is highly appreciated in cosmetics, particularly for its most important active ingredient: glycyrrhizin, a triterpene glycoside (saponin) whose aglycone, the glycyrrhetinic acid or enoxolone, is sold for use in cosmetics.

Despite there being various liquorice derivatives with topical anti-inflammatory, healing, and specific epithelialising properties for different types of formulations, enoxolone is the most commonly used because its behaviour and efficacy are the best-known.

It is also said to have anti-allergen and soothing properties, making it particularly suitable for alleviating sensitive or irritated skin. Various studies, both in vivo and in vitro, have proven the soothing effects of enoxolone, which specifically acts on the various mechanisms of skin hypersensitivity by providing effective and long-lasting relief.

All these characteristics make it a common ingredient in numerous cosmetic products, including emulsions, lip care products, make-up, skin oils, balms, oral hygiene products, and even supplementary ingredients in sunscreens.

The use of ill-suited detergents, aggressive aesthetic dermatology treatments, hair removal, or even salt and some soaps can cause skin irritation and redness, leading to the onset of itchiness and a hot sensation; in these cases, the use of enoxolone can be particularly beneficial.

Skin redness and feelings of warmth are caused by histamine, whose synthesis and release are blocked by enoxolone. It has also proven its excellent effectiveness in the treatment of atopic dermatitis, significantly reducing itching and erythema, and in preventing skin reactions induced by radiotherapy, thereby reducing burning feelings, redness, and dermatitis.

Even erythema caused by excessive sun exposure, characterised by painful swelling and skin redness (or even burns in some instances) can be eased thanks to enoxolone, which is why it is often included in some sunscreen products.

Ultimately, it is an ingredient whose safety and efficacy have been proven for use in cosmetics and personal care products, as well as endorsed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel of experts, and included in the FDA list of safe ingredients.

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Juan Carlos Montoro

Juan Carlos Montoro

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Responsable Sector de Actividad

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