Along with a hoard of priceless gold and jewels found in King Tut’s Egyptian tomb in 1922 was a monumental supply of licorice. Taken from the root of the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant native to southern Europe and Asia, licorice has been prized for over 4,000 years for its ability to treat everything from bronchitis and stomach ulcers to hair loss. It’s also one of the buzziest ingredients for calm, glowing skin, and pairs brilliantly with other topical brighteners such as vitamin C, alpha arbutin, niacinamide and kojic acid.
Here’s why licorice is a shortcut to natural radiance.
1. Fades dark spots and brightens skin
Licorice is a powerful tool against dark spots, sun damage, melasma, scarring and uneven, dull skin. Two key compounds, liquiritin and glabridin, work in a two-pronged attack to inhibit tyrosinase (the enzyme needed to produce melanin), and reduce excess melanin in the skin. The result? It effectively fades discoloration, evens and brightens.
2. It’s better and safer than hydroquinone
Banned in the EU and in many other countries, hydroquinone is still a standard hyperpigmentation treatment in the US. Side-effects include permanent worsening of hyperpigmentation, white patches, swelling, burning, irritation, and scarring. Studies have shown that glabridin is 16 times more effective than hydroquinone at fading discoloration with none of the potential problems, while liquiritin’s excellent depigmenting properties disperse melanin.
3. Soothes & calms
Superb for soothing stressed skin, licorice’s anti-inflammatory compounds glycrrhizin and licochalcone calm redness, itchiness, irritation and inflammation. It's a stellar balm for dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and bug bites.
4. Helps prevent skin aging
Up to 80% of skin aging is caused by external factors like sun and pollution that create free radical damage in the skin, and trigger lines and wrinkles. Licorice acts as a powerful antioxidant, mopping up free radicals and helping to keep skin smooth, plump and youthful-looking.
5. Blitzes breakouts
Oily, congested skin? Licorice is a multi-tasking superstar for pimple-prone complexions. The compound licochalcone helps banish breakouts by balancing excess oil production that can lead to blocked pores and inflammation. On top of that its natural anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties purify and soothe red, angry skin.