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June 02, 2021
In the quest for pigmentation-free and radiant skin, ingredients like vitamin C derivatives, niacinamide, and retinol are the gold standard, whilst various forms of in-office laser treatments can also target pigmentation (although studies have found that pigmentation does come back even post-laser treatment for more than 70% of those who saw initial improvement).
The thing is, as our cells are constantly being affected in many different ways by the countless factors that can contribute to hyperpigmentation and dullness, it is always recommended to take a multi-pathway approach and target the issue from different angles using a variety of ingredients. Remember, hyperpigmentation is never an overnight fix. It is a long fight that requires consistency and dedication.
Today, let us introduce you to one powerful natural skin brightening ingredient, which is gentle, pregnancy-safe, and clinically proven for its efficacy——Licorice Root Extract.
Licorice Root is extracted from the plant licorice (or scientifically Glycyrrhiza Glabra), which has long been used for medicinal purposes by the Hindus, Scythians, Greeks, Chinese, and even Japanese Geishas, thanks to its nearly 300 compounds that possess anti-microbial, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. When used topically, it delivers various benefits ranging from fighting free radicals, relieving inflammations, to fading hyperpigmentation in a similar manner to hydroquinone but safer and without its unwanted side effects.
Tyrosinase is the enzyme that is responsible for the synthesis of melanin in the skin. When it goes into an overdrive, which can be a result of many things like UV exposure, inflammation and hormonal changes, it signals skin cells to produce excessive melanin, resulting in darkened skin or hyperpigmentation. One of the most potent and active compounds of Licorice Root extract is Glabridin, which is proven to minimize tyrosinase activity and subsequently decreasing melanin production.
On the other hand, Liquiritin, another compound in Licorice Root extract, works to disintegrate, break down, and remove existing excess melanin, thereby reducing skin pigmentation. In one clinical study conducted on 20 women, it has been shown that Liquiritin was both safe and effective in the treatment of melasma.
Licorice Root extract is also known to prevent UVB-induced hyperpigmentation.
In short, not only does this humble ingredient fade existing spots, it can also help prevent new ones from forming.
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Licorice Root extract contains various anti-inflammatory compounds, including Isoliquiritigenin, and the powerful Glycyrrhizin, which triggers receptors that naturally raise steroid level in the skin. Together, they soothe irritation, itchiness and redness, and cut down recovery time. It is thus widely used to treat psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, and atopic dermatitis.
In fact, a double-blind clinical trial conducted on 60 adults with eczema over a two-week period revealed that topical application of Licorice Root is effective in improving eczema condition to quite an extent. Another randomized, placebo-controlled study on 281 adult with mild to moderate atopic dermatitis also reported a significant improvement upon five weeks of topical application of Licorice Root.
Licorice Root also has natural anti-microbial and antibacterial properties, which help to reduce unwanted microbes and bacteria on the skin, and thus minimizing inflammations, and speeding up wound healing.
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Free radicals in excess amount is the main cause of skin aging and discoloration. Licorice Root extract is rich in antioxidants like Licochalcone A and Flavonoids, which can fight and neutralize free radicals, whilst strengthening the skin’s natural defence mechanisms.
What’s better, these antioxidants have also been demonstrated to inhibit inflammatory markers, thereby reducing inflammatory symptoms, as well as slowing skin aging.
The result is skin that is more resilient and youthful with lessened signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines.
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Some evidences suggest that Licorice Root helps regulate oil production in the glands. By controlling oil production, together with its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it can in turn, improve acne, blackheads, and blemishes.
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