What Are The Skincare Benefits of Licorice Root Extract?

When you think of licorice, what comes to mind? Most likely that tasty red or black candy from your childhood sweet tooth days. Maybe you never left those days behind and are munching on a delicious string of twisted pleasure at this very moment. Not only does it bring joy to our taste buds, but you might be surprised to learn that licorice root (from which the candy is derived and given its color) has skincare and antioxidant potential, improving the symptoms of users all around the world.

Though it might come as a shock, the extract from the licorice plant has been discovered and utilized by various cultures for thousands of years. If you don’t want to feel left behind in your skincare regimen, you’re going to want to stock up on products containing this well-rounded ingredient.

How Does Licorice Extract Contribute to Skincare?

Just like the treat, licorice extract is derived from the root of the plant (its scientific name “Glycyrrhiza glabra”), which has been utilized for its scientific and medicinal benefits for centuries. In ancient Egypt, the root was enjoyed by many for its herbal remedies as well as its medicinal uses. Still today, those in countries such as Japan take advantage of the health advantages licorice root can provide.

The active compound in licorice root not only provides the candy with its sweet flavor, but it contains a multitude of antioxidant benefits and anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory purposes. Primarily used to treat hyperpigmentation concerns, the root has also been known to help with conditions such as acne scarring, eczema, and internal inflammations including heartburn, acid reflux, and ulcers.

When the skin comes into contact with licorice root extract, the production of the enzyme melanocyte is inhibited, which is essential for producing melanin, or pigmentation in the skin. The extract in the formula works to remove excess melanin, focusing on brightening the skin. The ingredient has become somewhat of a cult favorite in the industry as it tends to be suitable for those of all skin types with few side effects.

Benefits of Licorice Extract for your skin

  • Hyperpigmentation Relief

The skin condition hyperpigmentation can be common for many. Despite its low severity, those who experience it would rather it go away sooner rather than later. Often brought on by acne, sun damage, or melasma, hyperpigmentation shows up as dark spots on the skin in the affected areas. A frequent remedy for hyperpigmentation is prescription hydroquinone creams. Its high potency tends to be effective in treating symptoms and is also available over the counter (OTC) at a lower dose.

Some users experience adverse reactions to hydroquinone creams, sometimes seeing their symptoms worsen rather than diminish. To avoid potential skin irritation, users have been seeking out alternative, more natural remedies, one of them being licorice root extract.

The root acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor, which is an active function you want when searching for hyperpigmentation treatments. Tyrosinase is an enzyme that is responsible for the initial phase of melanin production. By minimizing the production of these enzymes, the extract reduces the amount of discoloration appearing on the skin’s outer surface.

  • Anti-Aging and Antioxidant Capabilities

When it comes to anti-aging ingredients, antioxidants are all the rage. These powerhouse ingredients act as multi-functioning resources, contributing everything from skin brightening to diminished aging signs. The licorice root helps target fine lines and wrinkles as well as other signs of oxidative stress, such as from environmental pollution. It helps to promote supple, smooth skin and strengthens the skin’s protective barrier.

Not only does the extract do all of this simultaneously, but it’s also known for its ability to increase elasticity in the skin. Licorice extract also helps to preserve the ingredient hyaluronic acid in the skin, a sugar molecule that maintains plumpness in the skin. This molecule can retain up to 1,000 times its weight in water, ensuring the skin maintains hydration and moisture.

  • Anti-Inflammatory

Some of licorice root’s best-known advantages are to help calm inflammation and redness on the skin. Certain conditions such as atopic dermatitis, rosacea, and psoriasis have all been shown to diminish with the help of the versatile extract. The plant helps the skin’s barrier fight against free radicals, giving the epidermis an added boost of armor.

Dēpology Cica Redness Relief Nourishing Cleanser

Our fragrance and clog-free cleanser is well-formulated to benefit users of all skin types, especially those with sensitive skin. The active ingredient in the formula, cica, focuses on targeting redness and inflammation. It also is packed with antioxidant purposes such as overall improvement of elasticity in the skin.

Not only is the formula packed with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, but the cleanser also takes advantage of - you guessed it - licorice root. The soothing effects of the extract in the formula further emphasize inflammation relief as well as help to bring down any swelling one may experience. What’s left behind is skin that is well-nourished, plump, and brighter than before. Desired results are best achieved when applied twice daily, once in the AM and again in the PM before bed.

It should be noted that licorice root ingredients with similar capabilities should never be substituted for sunscreen. SPF 30 or above is often recommended to apply about 15-20 minutes before leaving the house and should be regularly applied every two hours to ensure your skin has protection against environmental stressors.

  • Regulates Oil Production in the Skin

As if all of the above benefits aren't enough to convince you to include some licorice root in your skincare collection, those prone to oilier skin will also reap the advantages of this omnipotent plant. There has been scientific research on the effects of the licochalcone A compound that can help with oil regulation in the skin.

What makes the extract particularly unique is that it works as an emulsifier, which allows products with water and oil-based formulas to work together efficiently. It can be difficult for these formulas to cohabitate, but licorice root steps in to save the day yet again.

Which Ingredients Work Well With Licorice Extract?

Life would be lonely with friends, right? Thankfully licorice root has plenty of companions to keep company and build strong relationships. The extract itself already is packed with benefits and is non-comedogenic, so you don’t have to worry about clogged pores upon application.

Some ingredients that pair well with the extract include azelaic acid, shea butter, tranexamic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid, to name a few. Due to its powerful antioxidant capabilities, the extract pairs well with fellow antioxidants such as niacinamide and Vitamin C, further boosting its skin brightening and anti-aging effects.

Everyone has to have an enemy, right? You’re going to want to steer clear of ingredients such as retinol and hydroquinone. These ingredients don’t mix well when paired with licorice root and can cause skin irritation and redness.

what are the Side Effects of Licorice Root Extract

As with any new ingredient you are introducing to your skin, it can be helpful to test the extract on a small area of skin to see the initial reaction. If you notice any type of irritation, you should halt usage of the product immediately.

Licorice root can be a rare allergen in some users, so depending on the individual, allergic reactions may occur. This also depends on the formula in each product and how the extract is used. Reactions can cause further skin irritation and breakouts that exacerbate the initial issue.

The extract tends to be more beneficial and less harmful in serums, as these formulas are more concentrated and contain higher amounts of the ingredient, so you will see better results. You should also be mindful of using sunscreen with the extract, as the skin can experience sun damage and increased sensitivity if not well-protected during the day.

Can You Use Licorice Extract During Pregnancy?

Hydroquinone is not recommended to use during pregnancy, so expecting mothers often seek alternative treatments when necessary. Though there have been positive results when it comes to helping pregnant women experiencing melasma, there have not been enough studies conducted to know for certain if licorice extract is fully safe during pregnancy.

The active component glycyrrhizinate which attributes to the skin’s healing properties in licorice extract has also been linked to potential developmental and behavioral issues in the fetus. Due to a lack of research and the newfound interest in the extract for skincare concerns, it is not certain just how much of the product can be applied.

If you have any uncertainties during your pregnancy, it is always best to seek guidance from a professional who can direct you to alternative methods. It will take some patience and sacrifice, but there is always a way to enjoy your skincare routine even when you are expecting and breastfeeding.


Our formula was designed for sensitive and irritated skin, with the ingredient
Centella Asiatica (cica) taking main stage for this formula. Cica is an ingredient notorious for calming and nourishing the skin while combating free radicals created from harsh environments. This formulation also features licorice.Licorice has a soothing effect on skin and helps to ease inflammation. The glycyrrhizin found in licorice can reduce redness, irritation and swelling, and is used to treat skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and eczema.

Conclusion : licorice extract for the skin

Appreciated by those of all skin types, the extract shows its best results when used one to two times per day. As we continue to learn more about licorice root, we may discover even more of its benefits aside from those we are aware of, such as its antioxidant effects, anti-inflammatory properties, skin-brightening capabilities, and preventing new dark spots from forming entirely.

As you can tell, licorice goes far beyond that sweet treat you can purchase at the concession stand. Aside from serums, the extract can also be used in oils for those with sensitive skin and in powder form to help with sun damage and hyperpigmentation. No matter your preference or condition, licorice root has a solution.