Licorice Root Powder (Skin Lightening)



TYPE OF INGREDIENT: Skin brightener

MAIN BENEFITS: Inhibits the production of an enzyme needed to produce melanin (pigment) in the skin, helps remove excess melanin, has anti-inflammatory benefits.1?

WHO SHOULD USE IT: Anyone looking to reap the spot-fading, skin tone-evening benefits, as well as those looking to soothe irritated skin. Plus, unlike many other similar ingredients, it’s a good option for pregnant women looking for a safe way to treat melasma.

HOW OFTEN CAN YOU USE IT: This largely depends on the particular product formulation, but in most cases, once or twice a day, maximum, says Chwalek.

WORKS WELL WITH: Because of its main benefits, it’s often mixed with other antioxidants and skin brighteners, such as niacinamide and vitamin C.

DON’T USE WITH: Because it does have the potential to be somewhat irritating, dermatologists advise not using it in conjunction with retinol and/or hydroquinone.

What is Licorice Extract?

The root of the plant has been used for medicinal purposes for years and is where black licorice the candy comes from, but it’s also the source of licorice extract used topically for skin. This extract is filled with a variety of beneficial compounds, which do everything from deliver antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to help fade dark spots

It’s this latter effect that makes it a choice ingredient in many skin-brightening products. It even acts in a similar manner to hydroquinone, considered to be the gold-standard brightening ingredient, though notorious for its unwanted side effects and even potential safety concerns.

Benefits of Licorice Extract For Skin

Minimizes the production of tyrosinase to combat discoloration: The production of melanin (AKA pigment or color) is a complicated process, but at the heart of the matter is an enzyme known as tyrosinase. Licorice extract inhibits the production of tyrosinase, in turn inhibiting the production of dark spots.

Removes excess melanin: Licorice extract brightens the skin in another way, too. “It contains liquiritin, an active compound that helps to disperse and remove existing melanin in the skin,” explains Chwalek. In other words, not only can it help prevent new spots from forming, it can also fade existing ones.

Acts as a potent antioxidant: Like many other plant-based extracts, licorice contains a flavonoid, an antioxidant-rich component that decreases reactive oxygen species, which both age and discolor the skin.

Offers anti-inflammatory benefits: While the flavonoid is anti-inflammatory in and of itself, there’s yet another molecule, licochalcone A, which inhibits two inflammatory markers that trigger the inflammatory cascade.

May help control oil production in the skin: Though this isn’t one of the more commonly agreed-upon benefits, a dermatologist says that there’s some evidence to suggest that that licochalcone A compound may have the added benefit of regulating oil production. It’s why licorice extract is often used in Ayurvedic medicine as a dandruff treatment.

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