The Science Behind Licorice Root’s Benefits for Healthy Skin

Licorice root has been revered for centuries for its many remedies and health benefits, particularly in traditional Chinese medicinal practices. 

This natural extract has gained popularity as a powerhouse ingredient, offering a wide array of advantages that promote healthier and more radiant skin. And when it comes to skincare, the science behind licorice root’s skin benefits is equally intriguing. 

Here’s more on the scientific understanding of how licorice root works in many ways to promote healthier-looking skin.

Licorice Root Extract: A Complex Composition

Licorice root extract is derived from the root of the licorice plant (also known as the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant) and contains a complex composition of natural compounds. It has a long history of medicinal use in ancient China and Egypt for the treatment of various health conditions like diabetes and cavities. But today, it’s known more for its powerful skin benefits. 

Of the 300 compounds it contains, there are three compound families that contribute to its powerful skin benefits:

  • Flavonoids: Flavonoids, a class of plant metabolites, offer health benefits mainly due to their powerful antioxidant effects.The main active flavonoids of licorice include Licochalcone A, Licochalcone B, and isoliquiritigenin, as well as isoflavones such as isoangustone A, and isoflavans such as glabridin and licoricidin. Glabridin is particularly notable because it has been shown to reduce UVB pigmentation and possesses anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Saponins: Saponins are steroids found in legume plants (the plant family licorice belongs to). Licorice root contains many saponins, with glycyrrhizin being the most powerful. Glycyrrhizin is a saponin that displays antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.
  • Polysaccharides: Glycyrrhiza polysaccharides are a major group of biomolecules made of long chains of carbohydrate molecules that have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties.

These compounds work synergistically to reduce reaction and deliver the beneficial effects of licorice root to your skin.

The Science Behind Licorice Root Properties

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Licorice root is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects, primarily attributed to some of its active compounds, including glycyrrhizin, flavonoids, and saponins. These components work together to reduce inflammation in the skin.

A variety of studies have supported the anti-inflammatory properties of licorice root products. Research has shown evidence that glycyrrhizin, one of the main components of licorice root, can inhibit the activity of enzymes involved in the production of inflammatory mediators. By blocking these enzymes, licorice root may help reduce the release of pro-inflammatory lipids, thereby reducing inflammation and the side effects that come with it (like breakouts and scars).

Additionally, the flavonoids in licorice root, such as glabridin and liquiritin, have been found to inhibit the expression of inflammatory markers, which play a significant role in promoting inflammation and are connected to various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, and psoriasis.

Skin Elasticity Properties

Collagen is a protein that provides support and strength to your skin. Licorice extracts have been found to stimulate the production of collagen in skin cells known as fibroblasts. This increased collagen production may help improve skin elasticity, making the skin appear firmer and more supple.

Elastin is another crucial protein that contributes to skin elasticity. It’s been shown that licorice root extract may protect against environmental stressors that are responsible for the breakdown of skin elastin. 

By preventing the breakdown of elastin, licorice root extract can help protect the skin’s natural elasticity and resilience. This can result in a smoother and tighter skin barrier, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on aging skin types.

Hyperpigmentation Reduction Properties

Licorice root has shown promising potential for addressing hyperpigmentation and promoting a more even skin tone. One of the key active compounds responsible for this benefit is glabridin.

Glabridin has many uses but has especially been found to reduce melanin production. Melanin is the pigment responsible for the color of our skin, hair, and eyes. Overproduction or uneven distribution of melanin can lead to hyperpigmentation or melasma, meaning dark spots that come from too much time in the sun or after inflammatory issues like acne.


One study found that a cream with a licorice compound has skin lightening benefits and helped fade existing hyperpigmentation, making these blemishes and discoloration less noticeable over time.

Antioxidant Properties

As we mature and are exposed to environmental stressors, our skin’s natural production of collagen and elastin declines, resulting in saggy-looking skin, wrinkles, skin discoloration, and diminished elasticity.

Antioxidants play a crucial role in shielding the skin from the harmful impact of free radicals, which are unstable molecules generated by stressors like pollution, UV rays which can cause sun damage, and stress. Accumulation of free radicals within the skin can lead to stress, redness, and skin irritation, causing premature aging, inflammation, and cellular harm.

Fortunately, studies have shown that licorice root extract possesses a range of antioxidants that may aid in safeguarding the skin against UV damage from sun exposure.

These antioxidants include glycyrrhizin and glabridin, both extensively researched for their ability to fight free radicals. One study, in particular, showed glycyrrhizin to be a quenching agent with effective antioxidant activity

By neutralizing free radicals, licorice root extract may even help to slow the decline of proteins like collagen and elastin that support your skin’s structure and firmness.

Experience the Power of Licorice Root Extract

Whether you are dealing with inflammation, hyperpigmentation, or simply aiming for healthier-looking skin, it’s clear that licorice root has many purposes and is a valuable addition to your skincare routine. If you’re ready to experience the skin health benefits for yourself, try the Pur-Radiance cleanser from Purity Woods. 

It features organic licorice root extract and other antioxidant ingredients that promote radiant, young-looking skin while gently cleansing and hydrating your face.

Learn more about the Pur-Radiance cleanser and enjoy healthier skin with licorice root!


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