Licorice has been used for 4,000 years across many different cultures due to its health and skincare benefits. It is used as a fundamental herb in traditional Chinese medicine as well as by the Japanese geishas (traditional Japanese entertainers) as a whitening cosmetic. Curiously it was also found in King Tut’s tomb in Egypt. The image below shows three Japanese geishas who know how to use licorice root for skin whitening.
The secret to licorice’s sought-after health and beauty benefits lies within the plant’s root. In order to prepare licorice for use in skin care the root is removed from the plant and melted. During the boiling process the water is drained and two important parts of the root are extracted: Glycyrrhizin acid and Glabridin. Glycyrrhizin is what give Licorice its distinct flavour. Glabridin is known for its medicinal properties and has been used to help treat hepatitis, stomach ulcers and congestion. The two mixed together form a syrup or powder that can be used in beauty treatments.
Why is Licorice Used in Beauty Treatments?
Glycyrrhizin is anti-inflammatory, which means it helps to reduce any skin redness or irritation. It is also an antioxidant so it protects the skin from free radicals. Glabridin causes skin whitening and reduces dark spots by inhibiting the enzyme Tyrosinase which causes pigmentation. Some of the main reasons licorice has been used by the beauty industry include:
1. To Reduce Dark Spots
Licorice can restore your skin to a lighter colour when it is applied to a darkened area. This means it is useful if you suffer from hyperpigmentation or melasma. Licorice is a natural treatment for dark spots as you are able to lighten your skin without using chemicals. Glabridin also stops the skin from darkening after sun exposure. Interestingly licorice also contains some UV blocking enzymes so it helps to protect your skin from damage caused by the sun. It blocks melanin production and evens out skin tone.
2. To Reduce Inflammation
Since licorice has anti-inflammatory properties it has been used to treat a number of conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. It helps to reduce swelling, itching or burning. Some patients suffering with eczema also drink licorice tea as well as applying licorice cream in order to reduce their symptoms.
3. To Increase the Skin’s Elasticity
Licorice helps to stimulate elastin and collagen production which makes the skin bouncier and more elastic. It also moisturises and rehydrates the skin making it appear plumper and healthier.
4. To Control Oil Production
Licorice helps to control oil production and therefore reduces acne. It also reduces any redness caused by rosacea and helps the skin to heal faster.
How Can I Make a Licorice Root Mask?
It is very simple to make a licorice root mask with just licorice root powder and Aloe Vera gel. I recommend Davis Finest Liquorice Root Powder and Ransom Aloe Pura Aloe Vera Gel. Davis Finest Liquorice Root Powder was designed as a natural vegan skin lightening alternative to hydroquinone. It is excellent quality and has received 5 star ratings on Amazon. Aloe and licorice make an excellent combination since aloe is also extremely soothing and moisturising.
To make the mask mix the two ingredients together until they form a paste and then apply it to your skin. Leave for 30 minutes before washing off.
Recommended Licorice Root Products
The first licorice beauty product I tried was the ACWELL Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner. ACWELL is a Korean brand and this toner has become a cult favourite in the Korean beauty world. The toner contains a high concentration of licorice and has a pH of 5.5 making it very effective at balancing and calming your skin. It was recommended as part of the k-beauty trend to achieve “honey skin” and is used alongside Neogen Real Ferment Micro Essence. It is best to use both products together as they each enhance the other’s effectiveness. I used the licorice toner twice a day followed by the fermented essence. After a couple of weeks I could see my skin was left brighter with a slight glow.
If you are looking for other recipes for homemade beauty products you may find the following posts helpful:
Licorice Root FAQs
Does licorice root lighten skin?
Licorice lightens skin naturally. It contains Glabridin which inhibits the enzyme Tyrosinase which causes pigmentation
How long does licorice take to lighten skin?
Any skin redness will start to go down after 1-2 days but for skin lightening you should wait for about a month. This is because the skin’s renewal process takes time. You should use the licorice mask consistently (once every couple of days) for at least 28 days before you start to see results.
How can I use licorice to whiten my skin?
Use licorice regularly in your skincare routine and allow at least a month for results to start showing. You can use the licorice mask in this post or a licorice toner which will gradually whiten your skin over time. After a few months you will have a noticeably even skin tone.
Is licorice good for skin?
Yes. Licorice has many benefits for the skin. It is extremely soothing and has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also an anti-oxidant and contains natural UV filters.