Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract; Using Acid

Lichens are an own group within the family of the Parmeliaceae. Already in the ancient world, they were renowned for their healing power. The green to yellow lichen, also named treemoss or beard lichen in the vernacular, grows like weeping shrubs on the bark of deciduous trees and conifers.

From the scientific point of view, the lichen is a symbiosis between an ascomycete fungus and a chlorophyta alga. Lichens need an acid milieu and therefore they thrive only on trees with acid barks. Depending on their environment, they are ten centimetres to one meter in length. They prefer humid regions with a lot of rain and cold air. Lichens are long-lived; they can reach the age of several hundreds or even thousands of years. Therefore they are ideal for the determination of the age of old stones.


Lichen extract and its ingredients

Lichen extract mainly contains stable, mucus-building sugar components and bitter lichen acids. One of these lichen acids is usnic acid, effective against several sorts of bacteria and fungi. They have a special antibiotic effectiveness against mycobacteria, streptococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant staphylococci. They also contain tanning agents and vitamin C. The lichen extract is very rich in vitamin C and really predestined to alleviate superficial wounds. Vitamin C is known for its promoting effect on the regeneration of the connective tissue and as an immune booster.

Components of the lichen extract are highly effective against tubercle bacteria and gram-positive bacteria.


Lichen extract and its medical effectiveness

A usual form of preparation of lichen is in the form of tea. The tea alleviates gastrointestinal trouble and gall bladder complaints. Lozenges with lichen extract are good for inflamed tonsils, sore throat and pharynx. The bitter substances contained in the lichen cover the mucous membrane in the mouth and the pharynx like a protective film and soothe the inflammation. Preparations with lichen extract also are excellent for compresses and wound dressing.

Applied externally, the lichen extract disinfects open wounds and promotes the healing process and the formation of new tissue. Lichen tincture is even suited to heal abscesses and furuncles. It support the thorough elimination of toxins (e.g. heavy metals and pesticides) stored in the body fat tissue.


Despite all these benefits, there is a disadvantage: Many lichen products are diluted with high-proof alcohol. It is recommendable that abstinent alcoholics or persons with alcohol problems abstain from preparations with lichen extract in alcohol. The same applies to children under twelve years and persons suffering from liver disease.


Lichen extract in cosmetics

Lichen extract is of high importance in contemporary cosmetics. Skin damages caused by extreme UV exposure, like sunburn, can be soothed or even healed by baths or compresses with lichen extract. Lichen extract is great to fight skin impurities, blackheads, acne and skin inflammations. It is also suited as a treatment for rosacea. There is proof that lichen extract inhibits proliferation (cell division).

Lichen extract is a completely natural deodorant that inhibits odour formation. Due to its antimicrobial properties it is an excellent choice to combat dermatophytes and athlete’s foot.

Despite its multitude of positive properties, the lichen is a plant with a relatively low irritation potential; that means in general it very tolerable. Until today, there have been no side effects or interactions with medicines worth mentioning. Another positive aspect is the low allergy potential.



Portrait   Lichen extract

INCI: Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract

Origin/Family: Parmeliaceae (Lichens)

Properties: yellow extract with a neutral fragrant note

Use in cosmetics: supports the microbial stabilization of cosmetics formulations, has a deodorizing effect, effective for skin infections and in anti-dandruff preparations


Portrait   Usnic acid

Definition: Component of lichen extract

Alternative name:   2,6-diacetyl-7,9-dihydroxy-8,9b-dimethyl- 1,3(2H,9bH)-dibenzofurandion

CAS number: 7562-61-0

EG number: 231-456-0

Molecular formula:    C18H16O7

Melting point: 201 to 202 degree Celsius


Superior cosmetics with lichen extract

Lichen extract is a highly effective ingredient for exclusive balms, creams, tinctures, bath and anti-dandruff products. Effective for skin impurities, superficial injuries, acne or as a natural deodorant ingredient. It functions also as a co-preservative  in cosmetic products. Cosmacon  is ready to integrate the lichen extract into your formulations and to support your with the development  of a corresponding formula.


Please contact us with your questions. We are eager to provide you with our professional advice!