Derived from the glycyrrhiza glabra plant, licorice has long been prized in Japan due to its medicinal properties and health benefits. Scientists more recently discovered that licorice root extract is an emulsifier, which allows both water and oil-based ingredients to mix effectively. This can be a challenge, since water and oil tend to separate, and natural emulsifiers are even harder to come across in skincare. But licorice root extract improves the consistency of products and more importantly, allows our skincare products to actually deliver benefits to our skin! No wonder it’s sought-after in product formulations. Here are some other reasons you’ll want to check out licorice.
Licorice helps to reverse hyperpigmentation, a condition where the skin forms dark patches or spots on the skin that makes it look uneven in tone and texture. It also helps to reduce melasma, which can happen due to sun exposure or hormonal changes during pregnancy. If you’re looking to brighten your skin, just know that licorice is a natural alternative to the harsh depigmenting agent hydroquinone.
2. Sun defense
In addition to helping brighten skin already affected by sun damage, licorice contains glabridin, which helps to stop discoloration in its tracks during and immediately after sun exposure. UV rays are the primary cause of skin discoloration, but glabridin contains UV blocking enzymes that prevent new skin damage from occurring.
3. Heals scars
Sometimes we experience scars from acne or injuries that occurred due to no fault of our own. Licorice can speed up the healing process by inhibiting the production of melanin, an amino acid responsible for pigmentation in the skin. Although melanin does help to guard the skin from UV ray damage, too much melanin is a whole other issue. Excess melanin production during sun exposure can result in unwanted effects, including dark scars and even skin cancer.
4. Calms Inflammation
Licorice is said to have 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.
5. Softens skin
Licorice helps to regenerate our skin’s collagen and elastin supply, both of which are necessary to keep our skin elastic, smooth, and baby-soft. Not only that, but licorice helps to preserve hyaluronic acid, a sugar molecule with the ability to retain up to 1000 times its weight in water that keeps skin plump and bouncy.
How can I include Japanese licorice in my skincare routine?
If you’re familiar with us, you know that we don’t shy away from picking our favorite children. And for good reason! As with all botanicals, not all licorice is created equal, and high-quality licorice will help ensure that you reap the very best benefits this plant has to offer. The A.P.G. line by La Vie Précieuse utilizes licorice cultivated locally in Tsugaru, Aomori, where it survives two years of dry summers and freezing cold winters, allowing the plant to accumulate an abundant store of nutrients in its roots. Take it from us – your skin will thank you for it!