We'd definitely describe licorice as polarising. Loved by some, hated by others, ask anyone their opinion on the sweet-yet-bitter snack and it will generally be strong.
When extracted into skincare form, however, licorice is a friend to all; all who count dark spots or inflammation among their primary skin concerns that is.
BAZAAR spoke with Lanyifan Rani, Global Brand Manager for Skin Inc, (one of the first brands to pioneer the ingredient), to learn more.
HOW DOES LICORICE WORK IN SKINCARE?
Despite the confectionery form it's generally consumed in, licorice is a herb long relied on within traditional Chinese medicine.
Its impressive healing properties lie within the plant's root, with licorice root extract being the ingredient beauty brands seek out for use within their formulas.
As for the skin benefits, there are two standouts: "It helps to reduce inflammation and to lighten skin naturally," explains Rani.
HOW DOES LICORICE ROOT EXTRACT SOOTHE SENSITIVITY?
Impressively; that's how. In fact, skincare rich in licorice root extract can actually stop redness in its tracks.
"When licorice extract is added to cosmetic formulas in active quantities, it blocks the signalling pathway for skin inflammation, [and so] can control redness, flushing, and other types of inflammation," Rani tells BAZAAR.
HOW DOES LICORICE ROOT EXTRACT FADE PIGMENTATION?
Brightening is on its to-do list, too. "[Licorice] is also a natural skin lightening [agent] because [its] extract contains an active called glabridin, which inhibits tyrosinase, the enzyme that causes pigmentation in response to sun exposure," Rani explains.
And with its aforementioned calming abilities in tow, licorice holds the unique power to refine tone without inviting irritation along, unlike the majority of its fellow brightening ingredients.
HOW SOON CAN YOU EXPECT RESULTS FROM USING LICORICE SKINCARE?
"For the soothing effect, you can feel it on the first application, however, the antioxidant and relieving [of] redness and irritation [takes a] few days," Rani confirms.
"For the skin lightening, you need about a month due to skin's renewal process, so [keep use consistent for] at least 28 days," she says.
ARE THERE ANY APPLICATION GUIDELINES?
Rani suggests using the ingredient as an opener for optimal results: "Use the product with licorice in the first step so it has the opportunity to contact with the skin the most," she advises.
THE BEST LICORICE PRODUCTS TO SHOP
Licorice Serum by Skin Inc, Dhs158 at Sephora
A comforting and concentrated dose of licorice root extract, paired with green tea for instant redness relief.
Skin Love Glow Essence Serum by Becca, Dhs178 at Sephora
The luminosity lineup is particularly strong in this mix, with licorice flanked by blueberry and cranberry extracts.
Liquid Gold by Alpha-H, Dhs148 at Sephora
Billed by fans of the brand as an 'overnight facial', this licorice and glycolic acid packed peel is more than deserving of its devoted following.
Licorice Pure Serum by Apot.Care, Dhs123 at MECCA
Dullness and discolouration don't stand a chance against this anti-inflammatory radiance-revealer.
Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster, Dhs269 by Eminence Organic Skin Care
With licorice, lemongrass and lactic acid, this brightening booster serum is both gentle and effective—apply solo or add a few drops to your moisturiser.
Images courtesy of @HerbivoreBotanical