Licorice 101: A Complete Guide


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Gone are the days when skincare, effective skincare, was all about international formulations, products and ingredients that were foreign to us. Today, not only are we much more informed and evolved, but we also rejoice in highly effective homemade skincare offerings – which, no doubt, champion the use of more India ingredients, if you know what I mean. In fact, our traditionally guaranteed ingredients are now also featured in top-selling products from world-renowned brands – think Ashwagandha, turmeric, saffron and more. Example: licorice. Also spelled as licorice and known as “sweet root”, the perennial herb known as Mulethi topically is an excellent adaptogen aka stress fighter. Here’s why it’s also booming in the skincare space, besides your kitchen.

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Why should you introduce licorice into your skin?

As we were curious to understand the background of the ingredient, we contacted Dr. Madhuri Agarwal, founder of Yavana Aesthetics Clinic. Decoding the ingredient for us, she says, “Licorice is derived from the plant Glycyrrhize glabrous. Glycyrrhizin is a powerful antioxidant and helps calm inflammation. Glabridin and Liquirtin are ingredients in licorice that curb melanin buildup. Licochalcone A is another ingredient in licorice that works as an anti-inflammatory agent and controls oil production according to evidence. Oh, and it’s also safe for pregnancy!

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It’s a skin lightener like no other

“Licorice is known to have multiple benefits,” says Dr. Agarwal. “Lightening and reducing hyperpigmentation are popular benefits of licorice. Licorice helps reduce dark spots with its multiple melanin-dispersing ingredients. It is found to help with aging issues. because of its antioxidant properties. The ingredients in licorice help fight UV damage and slow premature aging,” she adds when telling us about its brightening properties. “Licorice is also considered helpful in atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema due to its anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to brightening, it also evens skin tone and fades discoloration, “Licorice inhibits tyrosinase – the enzyme that leads to increased melanin production in the skin after sun exposure and thus prevents dark spots and discoloration,” says Dr. Agarwal.

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Do’s and Don’ts

Dr. Agarwal gives us a quick tour of what we should and shouldn’t deal with licorice.

Do’s: “Licorice can be included in skincare in various forms, such as a face wash, serums, gels and face masks. Use the products in combination with vitamin C , AHAs and peptides.It is advisable to use licorice consistently for a long period of time to achieve noticeable results in lightening, as it is a plant extract that gives subtle results. Always apply sunscreen with the use of licorice as sun exposure can dilute the skin lightening effects of licorice.

Things not to do: “It has the potential for irritation. It should therefore be used with caution when using aggressive assets. Avoid the use of licorice with retinol, hydroquinone, etc. It is not recommended to use it before 16-17 years. However, later on for skin problems such as lightening and acne marks, it can be used. Do not use medicinal products made from licorice without consulting the doctor.

Read also : What role does glycerin play in the formulation of skin care products

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