Which Vegan Ingredient Is Best For Hyperpigmentation?
The skin is the largest organ in the body, and with that level of surface area comes the possibility of skin-related conditions that are less than ideal.
Hyperpigmentation, the common skin condition affecting up to 5 million people in the United States alone, is a skin condition caused by excess melanin production.
It is caused by a host of factors, from your body’s reaction to inflammation to increased sun exposure. (Just another reason to always wear your sunscreen!) Shifting hormones, pregnancy, and surgery can also cause an increase in melanin production that can lead to hyperpigmentation.
But there’s good news: these dark spots don’t have to be permanent.
If you’re looking for a non-toxic, natural and vegan remedy for these sun spots or dark spots, look no further. Licorice root is the answer to your hyperpigmentation problems.
So, what is licorice root extract?
Unfortunately for the candy lovers out there, you can’t just rub Twizzler’s over your body and call it a day. Licorice root, scientifically known as Glycyrrhiza glabra, has been around for centuries – it was even found in King Tut’s tomb.
As a member of the legume family it is a relative to peas and beans, but it is decidedly sweeter. Licorice root is 50 times sweeter than sugar. It is predominately grown in Asia, although it is able to be grown in Europe as well.
What are the benefits of licorice root extract?
Licorice root has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. From the Hindus who mixed the root with milk and sugar to increase sexual energy to the Scythians who use the root when they went days without water, this plant has made its way throughout many civilizations.
This root has been used for centuries for a reason. Licorice root is filled with three important and therapeutic skin-helping ingredients.
This is the most important ingredient that licorice root produces. Glycyrrhizin is a gel-like saponin that is secreted from the root, and it’s what’s responsible for the root’s sweet flavor. It is also what produces glycyrrhizic acid, the root’s main therapeutic property.
Polyphenols are abundant in licorice root, and licochalcone is one of the more important polyphenols. Known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, licochalcone is important in reducing skin irritation. This polyphenol even a common ingredient in over-the-counter drugs.
This is another antioxidant that is impactful in a skincare regimen. Liquiritin is a glucose molecule that is found commonly in plants.
These three components of licorice root make the plant a game-changer in your makeup bag. Let’s take a look some of the ways licorice root improves skin health.
Six ways licorice root improves skin health
Licorice root is one of those plants that doesn’t stop giving. Many sought-after skin treatments and goals can be achieved by using just this one ingredient.
As we said before, hyperpigmentation is caused by inflammation, sun damage, and stress-inducing or hormonal events like surgery or pregnancy.
Studies have shown that liquiritin from licorice root has skin-lightening properties. It is an enzyme inhibitor, and the specific enzyme that liquiritin blocks is the one that converts protein to melanin. Without the enzyme there to do the conversion, melanin will not be made.
Board-certified dermatologist Michele Green, M.D., explains it well: the extract “contains an active called glabridin, which inhibits melanin production by minimizing the production of tyrosinase (which causes pigment) to combat discoloration."
Licorice root will help to slow down the production of darker pigments, which will decrease the amount of hyperpigmentation that the skin faces.
As licorice root is vegan, there are no downsides to using this ingredient on its own.
Licorice root’s anti-inflammatory benefits are almost as popular as it’s skin-brightening effects. Glycyrrhizin is a wonder-ingredient that can reduce redness irritation, and swelling. It has been known to treat skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and eczema.
With up to 20% of the root comprised of glycyrrhizin, this is a potent natural resource to treat skin irritation and inflammation.
Controls oil production
It is said that licorice root also helps to balance the skin’s oil production. There is evidence that suggests licochalcone regulates the amount of oil that the body produces.
When combined all together, licorice root’s anti-inflammatory, brightening, and exfoliating properties do well to reduce premature signs of aging. Its antioxidant characteristics reduce reactive oxygen in the body, and reactive oxygen is known to age the skin.
Licorice root also helps protect against skin damage as a whole. Just like the antioxidant characteristics prevent premature signs of aging, its antioxidant properties work against skin damage as a whole.
The body does not like free radicals. They feed on healthy cells, and can lead to acne, wrinkles, and almost any skin issue you can think of. Antioxidant-rich ingredients, like licorice root, play a large role in protecting the skin from damage caused by these free radicals.
Be aware that it is best to avoid pairing licorice root extract with hydroquinone or retinols, as the pairing can cause an allergic reaction or irritation. These are two popular ingredients, so check your ingredients list on your skincare regimen to prevent any adverse reactions.
What ingredients should you combine with licorice root?
If you’re looking to provide the most benefit to your skin, consider pairing licorice root extract with these common ingredients.
Tranexamic acid is a common skin brightening agent. It helps to brighten dark spots and reduce pigmentation by slowing the production of melanin.
Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is known for its wide range of topical benefits. It treats hyperpigmentation, helps to hydrate the skin, decreases redness and inflammation, and treats hyperpigmentation. If that’s not enough, it also acts as an antioxidant and helps to fight free radicals.
Vitamin C is the most popular skin brightening ingredient on the market. It is well-known for improving the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, and acne. If you’re looking to enhance your glow, pair these two brighteners together for an increased shine.
How to incorporate licorice root into your skincare routine
There are many ways to incorporate licorice root into your routine. Because it as a natural source of so many skincare benefits, it can be used in many different formulations to achieve your skincare goals.
Licorice root extract can be used in anything from face masks to serums to gels.
If you want to use this ingredient for its brightening properties, try using a face mask or serum. Over a period of regular use, licorice root in sheet masks can give you bright and glowing skin. If you’re looking for more targeted brightening, consider using a licorice root serum. Serums will provide concentrated and high quantities of the extract which will work well for any spot-fading goals.
If you’re looking to reduce pigmentation and sun damage, consider using licorice root extract in combination with vitamin C. This dual combination can reduce the effects of sun damage and pigmentation significantly.
How often can licorice root extract be used?
Licorice root is a natural ingredient that can be used up to twice a day. If you’ve bought a skincare product that utilizes this amazing root, follow the instructions on the product’s packaging. If it is medicated, it is best to check in with your dermatologist for instructions.
When targeting hyperpigmentation, it’s important to remember that sun protection is key. Not only does proper sun protect prevent some cause of hyperpigmentation, but it also protects the face while you are using your hyperpigmentation-targeting ingredients. Use at least SPF 30 daily to protect your face and skin from sun damage.