Physical Health, Tips & Techniques, Wellness / Self-Care

Do you want a brighter complexion? Try licorice root

The hero ingredient you’ve been missing.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Dec 12, 2021

Hyperpigmentation is a common annoyance for people. While there are tons of ways (chemical peels, over-the-counter creams and serums, and laser treatments) to prevent and treat these pesky sun and dark spots, a non-invasive and lesser known option is licorice root.


What is licorice root and its benefits?

Derived from the Glycyrrhiza plant species, licorice root has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda practices for 4,000 years. It has really amazing skin-transforming benefits — the most famous, it’s brightening and toning abilities. When you use products with licorice root in them, it will help diminish the appearance of dark- and age-spots.


Made with glabridin, a powerful molecule that inhibits tyrosine, the enzyme that produces melanin, this main component makes the skin brighter. The second best thing in licorice root is glycyrrhizin, the active substance found in plants that acts as a strong antioxidant that will help fight against skin-aging free radicals. And lastly, licorice root is rich in another powerful antioxidant, polyphenols. Known to help alleviate inflammation and irritation, polyphenols are smooth and calm with antibacterial properties which is great on acne-prone or oily skin.


Licorice root is also great for collagen and elastin, as it helps produce these to improve skin suppleness and strength — making it great for anti-aging goals!


Nice, so how do you use licorice root?

Although you can find just about any skincare product packed with licorice root, it’s best to use them in lotions, toners, serums, masks and creams. Essentially, anything that will stay on your skin instead of rinsing off, like cleansers.


And fortunately, because licorice is so gentle, you can use it everyday and still get the amazing benefits. But as a rule of thumb, always follow the instructions listed on a label, because some products with licorice root could contain other harsh chemicals or ingredients that should not be used daily.


Can any skin type use licorice root?

Short answer: yes! You can use it for any skin type and any skin condition, really. It can be especially beneficial for those with acne-prone or oil skin that are looking to decrease the appearance of acne scars, sun damage, hyperpigmentation or overall dull and lifeless skin.


In a way, it’s the perfect pick-me-up for skin that is lacking in multiple categories.


And if you’re wondering if there are risks, there are a few but they are minor. Essentially, you always risk an allergic reaction with any new skincare product you try so it’s best to patch test on your arm before using licorice root. Even though it’s considered safe, it could still cause complications in the body’s pigment production.


While you’re at it, check out the differences between a physical scrub and chemical exfoliation.


Photo via 100% Pure