November 28, 2022

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11 Brightening Licorice Root Skin Benefits


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Though we’ve become comfortable with certain “mainstream” skincare ingredients (i.e. vitamin C or hyaluronic acid), others can still feel confusing and mysterious. You may not have heard of licorice root extract, for example, despite its superpower properties. Licorice root skin benefits include improving uneven skin tone, healing wounds and inflammation, and reducing the appearance of acne scars.1

In traditional Chinese medicine, licorice has been used for centuries as a herbal remedy to treat a variety of ailments. Today, this potent ingredient is popping up in more and more skincare products due to its unique ability to brighten and soothe the skin2. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits of licorice root extract for your skin.

Licorice root extract is derived from the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra, which is native to Europe and Asia. The extract contains a compound called glabridin, which has been shown to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties3. These properties make licorice root extract an effective skincare ingredient for all skin types. This active ingredient has been shown to be particularly beneficial for those with acne-prone or sensitive skin.

The health benefits of licorice extract go well beyond skin care. This potent ingredient has also been shown to be effective in treating:

  • stomach ulcers
  • sore throat
  • kidney disease
  • bronchitis
  • tooth decay

The root of the licorice plant, licochalcone a. is even being studied as a potential treatment for cancer4. Clinical trials are ongoing, but the preliminary results are promising.

One reason that licorice root is used in skin care products is due to the active compound, glycyrrhizic acid, which has potent skin lightening properties5. This active ingredient has been shown to be as effective as hydroquinone, a common skin lightening agent, without the harmful side effects. Glycyrrhizic acid works by inhibiting the production of melanin, the pigment that gives our skin its color.6

Related: 7 Natural Ways to Treat Hyperpigmentation

The production of tyrosinase, an enzyme that is responsible for the production of melanin, is also inhibited by glycyrrhizin acid. In addition to skin lightening properties, licorice root extract also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, making it an ideal ingredient for those with acne-prone or sensitive skin.7

One study showed that a cream containing 2% licorice extract was effective in reducing the appearance of acne scars after eight weeks of use. The participants also reported an improvement in skin tone and texture.

If you’re looking for an ingredient that can help improve the appearance of your skin, licorice root extract is definitely worth trying. This potent ingredient has a wide range of benefits, from skin lightening to reducing acne scars. When used regularly, licorice root extract can help you achieve healthier, more radiant skin.

Licorice Root Skin Benefits

1. Reduces Dark Spots

The powerful antioxidants present in licorice extract can help to diminish the appearance of dark spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation. Melanin production (or pigment or color) is a complex process, but at its core is an enzyme called tyrosinase. Licorice extract inhibits tyrosinase activity, preventing the formation of dark spots.8

Related: 5 Benefits: Tamanu Oil for Hyperpigmentation

2. Fades Acne Scars

The anti-inflammatory properties of licorice extract can help to reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne, while also helping to fade away any scars that may be left behind. Oily skin is particularly susceptible to acne, and licorice extract can help to regulate oil production, keeping pores clear and skin looking healthy.9

3. Soothes Irritation

Licorice extract can help to soothe and calm irritated skin, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it an ideal ingredient for those with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.10

4. Moisturizes Skin

The glabridin present in licorice extract can help to lock in moisture, keeping skin hydrated and looking plump. This active ingredient also has antioxidant benefits, helping to protect skin from damage caused by free radicals.11

5. Reduces Fine Lines and Wrinkles

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of licorice extract can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Glycyrrhizic acid, one of the main compounds in licorice extract, has been shown to increase collagen production, resulting in firmer, more youthful-looking skin.12

6. Reduces Skin Damage

Age spots, sun damage, and other forms of skin damage can be reduced with the help of licorice extract. The antioxidants present in this potent ingredient help to protect skin from free radical damage, while also helping to fade away the look of dark spots.13

7. Evens out Skin Tone

Licorice extract can help to even out skin tone by lightening dark spots and hyperpigmentation. This is due to the inhibitory effect that licorice extract has on tyrosinase activity. In addition to evening out skin tone, licorice extract can also help to brighten dull, lackluster skin. Free radicals can cause damage to skin cells, resulting in a prematurely aged appearance. The antioxidants present in licorice extract help to neutralize these harmful molecules, resulting in brighter, more radiant skin.14

8. Soothes Skin Conditions

Licorice root extract has a soothing effect on the skin, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it an ideal ingredient for those with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis. Acne-prone skin can also benefit from the use of licorice extract, as it helps to reduce redness and swelling.15

9. Fights Free Radicals

Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells, leading to a prematurely aged appearance. The antioxidants present in licorice extract help to neutralize these harmful molecules, resulting in healthier, more youthful-looking skin. The anti-inflammatory effects of licorice extract help to improve the overall appearance of skin.16

Related: The Antioxidant Packed Plant That Could Improve Your Hair and Skin

10. Reduces Puffiness

The anti-inflammatory properties of licorice extract can help to reduce the appearance of puffiness and under-eye bags. This ingredient can also help to brighten dark circles, thanks to its depigmenting effect. When used regularly, licorice extract can help to give the eye area a more youthful and well-rested appearance.17

11. Protects Skin

The antioxidant properties present in licorice extract help to protect skin from free radical damage. In addition, the glabridin present in this ingredient can help to shield the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation and environmental stressors. The antibacterial properties of licorice extract can also help to protect the skin from the formation of skin infections and acne-causing bacteria.18


Licorice extract is a potent ingredient that offers a wide range of benefits for the skin. Thanks to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and depigmenting properties, this ingredient can help to improve the appearance of the skin in a number of ways.

Licorice extract can be found in many forms, including supplements, serums, gels, and powders. If you plan to take it as a supplement look for organic licorice extract that is free from additives.

Our favorite licorice extract supplements and Products:

If you prefer to try it topically, look for products that contain at least 2% licorice extract. These products can be found at most health food stores and online. Try some of our favorite products that contain licorice extract:

SKIN INC Supplement Bar Licorice Serum

Licorice extract is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and relaxing agent, which this serum claims to quickly relax irritated skin. Green tea extract contains antioxidants, glycerin is intended to alleviate dryness, and licorice extract reduces redness.

Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment

This lactic-acid, AHA serum targets the appearance of pores, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots while also being clinically proven to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Licorice extract is included in this formulation.

Peter Thomas Roth AHA/BHA Acne Clearing Gel

This clearing gel, which is available in a bottle and pump dispenser, includes a powerful cocktail of ingredients. It has salicylic and glycolic acid to clean out your pores, as well as licorice root to assist with acne scars and discoloration.

Eminence Organic Skin Care Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster Serum

This serum is infused with a brightening blend of organic ingredients, including licorice root extract, to help even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots.

Licorice root extract is a potent ingredient with a wide range of benefits for the skin. From reducing dark spots to fading acne scars, this versatile ingredient can help you achieve healthier, more radiant skin. When used regularly, licorice root extract can help to brighten dull skin, even out skin tone, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, licorice extract can also help to soothe irritated skin and calm inflammation. If you’re looking for an ingredient that can help improve the overall appearance of your skin, licorice root extract is definitely worth trying.



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