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If there’s one root that’s especially controversial, it’s licorice - particularly black licorice. Pungent and intense, the anise-flavored ingredient is much loved by those that are into it.... and avoided like the plague by those that aren’t.
But here’s the thing: even if you don’t enjoy it as a snack, you definitely want to consider licorice root as a skincare ingredient. Here’s why.
Licorice root comes from Glycyrrhiza glabra,a plant native to Europe and Asia. It’s been used for centuries in traditional Chinese, Greek, and Middle Eastern medicine to help with gastrointestinal and upper respiratory concerns, in large part due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
These components also make it a powerful skincare ingredient.
Licorice root naturally contains flavonoids,plant-derived chemicals that help protect the licorice plant against stressors like UV radiation or environmental pollutants. Just like they protect the plant itself, these flavonoids can actually protect skin from free radicals and environmental stressors.
In this way, they can prevent the development of fine lines, wrinkles, spots, and other free radical damage-related skin conditions.
Licorice root is probably most well-known for its ability to treat hyperpigmentation and brighten the skin - just like its friend vitamin C.
Here’s how it works. Hyperpigmentation is ultimately caused by tyrosinase, an enzyme that encourages melanin production in the skin (and melanin is the stuff that causes pigmentation). Well, licorice contains glabridin,a compound that actually inhibits tyrosinase and stops melanin production.
It also contains something called liquiritin,a compound that breaks up existingmelanin. In short, licorice can help to prevent future spots andtackle any existing pigmentation. And it’s a lot safer than heavy-duty alternatives like hydroquinone. Just make sure you don’t have a licorice allergy.
Dealing with oil and shine? Well, licorice root is just the ticket! The ingredient produces something called licochalcone,a compound that regulates oil production in the skin. Glabridin,meanwhile, can also help soothe any sensitivity concerns like redness, angry acne spots, - or even psoriasis and eczema.
Licochalcone Acan also inhibit two inflammatory markers, meaning that licorice can help stop inflammation in its tracks. Pretty important for any skincare regimen.
So there you have it: licorice root is a powerful and unexpected ingredient for tackling hyperpigmentation, oiliness, and inflammation.
Just remember that it could cause some kind of reaction depending on what ingredients its mixed with - so start with a patch test and keep an eye out for any inflammation.