Could Liquorice Be The Answer To Your Skincare Prayers? 

My mum loves liquorice. I've always found it revolting-  as a candy. However, recently I discovered the powers of liquorice root extract for the skin. One such power: its ability to even out the skin tone by reducing dark marks on the skin caused by melasma/hyper-pigmentation or old acne scars. And just like that.. I have a whole new love for liquorice!

If you subscribe to my mailing list then you will know about my struggle with melasma. Which led me to Eminence Organic's Bright Skin Liquorice Root Booster Serum. Which I absolutely love! I found it worked really well for me.. but I definitely think you need to adopt a regimented skin care system that includes some form of Glycolic Acid and or Salicylic Acid to get the best results out of it.

Plus, be sure to choose a serum with natural ingredients. I recommend a few at the end of the post, but first.. a little bit of liquorice history.

Erk Sous


Liquorice, or Mulethi Root as it's known in Ayurveda has a very interesting history spanning back thousands of years. Today it is used in both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Indian households for its multiple health benefits from digestion, liver protection and hormonal regulation

But, perhaps the most interesting part about liquorice roots extensive history can be traced back to the ancient civilizations. The Babylonians used it some 4,000 years ago to strengthen the body and the immune system. A cup of liquorice juice on a hot summers day was said to restore the body's lost minerals and water.

Egyptians have been drinking an ice-cold liquorice juice called 'erk sous' from street vendors for generations. Ancient Egyptian doctors would mix erk sous with various medicines to treat stomach and liver problems.

Later on, the Romans and the Greeks used it to treat coughs, indigestion, stomach pains and general digestive ailments. Its health benefits have been mentioned in various scrolls.  

Raw liquorice root was discovered in the tomb of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun. It's believed that liquorice was used in rituals by the ancients, they would prepare a liquorice drink to honour the spirits of the Pharaohs.



Liquorice is the root of the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant whose name means "sweet root" in Greek. Its use as a medicinal herb has been studied for its various bioactive components, implicated in anti-toxic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and neuroprotective effects.

The medicinal properties of liquorice are mostly due to the presence of powerful phytochemicals (plant chemicals), like flavonoids, chalcones, saponins and xenoestrogens.

Research has shown that flavonoids found in liquorice can have significant effects in dealing with dark marks on the skin caused by hyperpigmentation/melasma, acne scars or sunspots. 

Glabridin, is one of the flavonoids which gives liquorice its reputation as a skin whitening agent. It blocks the enzyme (tyrosinase) that causes pigmentaion in the skin after sun exposure.

Another helpful flavonoid liquorice contains is liquiritin, a depigmenting property that has shown to disperse melanin, reduce inflammation and reduce UVB erythema. Liquiritin (in a 20% concentration) has been shown to provide excellent results in 80% of patients with melasma within 4 weeks.


All of these fun facts makes liquorice a natural alternative to hydroquinone, the chemical compound used in a prescription skincare products like Obagi Cosmeceuticals to target hyper-pigmentation. 

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the safety of hydroquinone in recent years, and it's a debatable topic seeing as the FDA proposed to ban it in 2006. And it is banned in the EU in concentrations greater than 1%.

But, a lot of board-certified doctors stand by, and highly recommend this ingredient when used properly and in the correct concentrations. And I know that many people use 2-4% hydroquinone prescription products with amazing results and no side effects.

If you are unfamiliar with prescription hydroquinone skin products, they are commonly used as part of a system and can be very pricey.  Obagi's Nu-Derm 6 Step System will set you back over £400! Again, I'm not knocking these products because they are proven to work.

All I'm saying is, there are cheaper, more natural alternatives out there.


Liquorice can be a great addition to your skincare regime if you have an oily or acne-prone skin type. This is due to another very helpful flavonoid called licochalcone.

This helps to balance excess production of sebum in the skin which can block pores causing breakouts, and it can stop the growth of acne-causing bacteria on the skin.

It also acts as an anti-inflammatory to calm acne breakouts and soothe eczema related skin conditions caused by dermatitis.

Products I Recommend

Eminence Organics Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster-Serum was my first introduction to liquorice for hyper-pigmentation, I really like this serum, it also contains Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin C ester.

Facetheory's Regenacalm Pro Serum is a cheaper alternative that contains Retinol and Vitamin C.

Biovea's Brightening Face Serum is on my list to try. It has a great, all-natural ingredients list that includes Kojic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid.

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