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Liquorice Extract: How it can fades dark spots and hyperpigmentation

Liquorice Extract: How it can fades dark spots and hyperpigmentation

Liquorice is commonly known as the pungent candy that everyone loved (or hated) as kids. It is a herb that grows in parts of Europe and Asia, and has been used as a sweetener and medicinal treatment across the globe for a long time.

In the skincare world, liquorice is known for its skin brightening and soothing benefits for dull skin. One popular use of liquorice extract is to treat dark spots, whether it is from sun damage, hormonal conditions such as melasma, or hyperpigmentation from acne scars. While hydroquinone is commonly known as the dermatologists’ favourite ingredient to fade dark spots, it unfortunately has numerous side effect due to its highly potent ingredient. Hydroquinone is only available by prescription (for stronger concentrations), or you may find certain products in lower concentrations over the counter as well.

Therefore, many has started to look for more natural and gentle ingredients that work similarly to hydroquinone. One of those ingredients is none other than - Liquorice extract, which works in a very similar way to hydroquinone, but is gentler on your skin.


More about Licorice Extract

Liquorice extract comes from Liquorice plant, or scientifically known as “Glycyrrhiza glabra”, the root of the plant has been used for medicinal purposes for years. This extract is filled with a variety of beneficial compounds, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects that help fades dark spots, which makes it a popular skin-brightening ingredient in many modern skincare products.

It acts similarly to hydroquinone, which is (sort of) the king of brightening ingredient, but many tried to avoid it due to its unwanted side effects and it may cause potential safety concerns if not monitored by a dermatologist.


What are the components in Liquorice Extract that benefits the skin?

Liquorice’s excellent skin brightening effects comes from a compound called “glabridin”. This has properties like natural oestrogen, which helps to helps to fade hyper-pigmentation and sun damage, such as dark spots. Glabridin blocks the production of melanin which prevents hyperpigmentation from forming in the first place. Moreover, glabridin also has the ability to moisturise and keep skin smooth.

The second component found in Liquorice is “Liquirtin”, which helps in the treatment of melаѕmа. Melasma can be quite tricky to get rid of, and is more commonly seen in women with hormonal conditions, such as those who are pregnant, taking contraceptive pill or those who are exposed to intense sunlight without sun protection.


Benefits of Liquorice for the skin

  • #1 Prevent skin discoloration by minimizing the production of tyrosinase: Tyrosinase is a group of enzymes that contributes to your skin's pigmentation process, which help the body produce melanin and protects skin against UV damage. Liquorice extract blocks the production of tyrosinase, which in turn prevent the production of dark spots.
  • #2 Removes and dissolves melanin:  The component “Liquiritin” found in Liquorice extract act as an active compound that helps to dissolve and remove existing melanin in the skin, which in turn help prevent new spots from forming and also fade existing ones.
  • #3 A powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits: It carries “Glycyrrhizin”, an acid that makes liquorice taste sweet. Glycyrrhizin is an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals, as well as an anti-inflammatory component which help sooth redness and irritation on the skin.
  • #4 A UV-fighting super ingredient: One of the most active components found in liquorice extract – “Glabridin”, has proven to help diminish any dark spots formed due to scarring or sun damage. It also prevents pigmentation from UVB rays by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme that causes dark pigments after sun exposure.
  • # 5 Control oil production in the skin: There’s some evidence that suggest the “licochalcone A” compound found in liquorice extract may have the ability of regulating sebum production on the skin.

Is there any side effects when using Liquorice extract?

Unless you have an allergy to liquorice (which you may find out by doing an allergy or skin prick test with a skin specialist, it is uncommon for liquorice to have any negative side effect on the skin.

As a general rule, we always recommend that you try any new products out on a small test spot on the back of your hand before applying all over your face.


What’s the best way to use Liquorice Extract?

Similar to other brightening ingredient, it's a recommended to look for products with liquorice extract in a serum, which will be more concentrated and contain higher amounts of the ingredient. Make sure you follow the brands recommended directions when it comes to how often and when to use it.

Most importantly, always apply sun protection and daily SPF when using licorice extract (or any other skin brightening ingredient), this is because sun exposure may counteract with the ingredient and reduce the effects of the skin-brightening ingredients.

How to identify Liquorice extract in skincare products?

Most of the time you'll be looking for "licorice root extract" or "Glycyrrhiza Uralensis" in the ingredient list. However, other parts of the licorice plant are also sometimes used in skincare products –such as:

  • Licorice root water
  • Licorice root juice
  • Licorice root powder, and
  • Licorice leaf extract

Our best-selling K-Beauty products with Liquorice Extract:







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