There are two kinds of people — ones that love licorice, and ones that don’t. And it’s not just in Ayurvedic drinks or for medicinal purposes anymore. Licorice has made it to skincare like never before, and we find out why

In a recent MW article, we decoded the sudden obsession with onion in the personal care space, and we know of other relatively bizarre ingredients that have also dominated products (here’s looking at you, activated charcoal and bamboo and snail mucin). But amid all this, there has been a quiet entry of licorice into the skincare world and before we knew it, this adaptogen, which is usually used as a natural substance to help the body adapt to stress, has re-emerged as a star product for Indian skin. 


Ghazal Alagh, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Mamaearth, says, “Licorice contains liquiritin, an active compound that helps to diffuse and remove existing melanin in the skin, thereby fading dark spots and pigmentation and arresting more spots from forming.” The brand has launched a licorice-based product called Bye Bye Blemishes, which helps in fading pigmentation and marks. 

Is it important for men to include licorice in their skincare routine? Mansi Kaushik, senior manager, new product development, The Man Company, certainly thinks so. Their top-selling product, in fact, is the Lighting Lip Balm For Men. “Liquorice is an extract with multiple benefits. Liquorice helps to brighten and soothe itchy and irritated skin, and can be used as an anti-inflammatory to tackle a variety of skin conditions. In powder form or as part of a topical gel or lotion, it is an effective ingredient.” 


Yes, licorice-based products are here to stay, but they’re still a bit unknown in terms of their popularity. Unlike Vitamin C, not everyone knows that licorice should be in their vanity kit. Kaushik says, “Onion and Vitamin C are ingredients that are known to the common man. Licorice is a herb that grows in parts of Europe and Asia, but not many people are aware of it. Today the focus on licorice as an ingredient for skincare is less, despite the multi-functional benefits it has. So, lack of awareness in skincare is one prime reason for licorice falling behind ingredients like Vitamin C and onion despite it being potent.”

Vouching for the fact that licorice is as good as the hugely favoured onion and Vitamin C-based products, Dr Geetika Goyal from Ciel, explains, “Liquorice is a single ingredient with multiple skin benefits and is completely organic with no side effects in contrast to many commonly used toxic ingredients. One must switch to liquorice-based products to make their skincare routine effective and clean. It can also be added to popular ingredients like Vitamin C or niacinamide to enhance their effects.” Ciel offers Sunblock with SPF 40 and 50, which has licorice as a key ingredient.

Lip Balm, The Man Company

Harini Sivakumar, Cosmetic Chemist & CEO at Earth Rhythm, agrees. She says, “Licorice extract benefits your skin as it includes astringent properties and antioxidant protection. While licorice is an amazing ingredient for those who suffer from inflammatory skin issues such as eczema or rosacea, it’s also a good and nourishing option for anyone with acne-prone and oily skin.” Their serum range, which includes the 2% Tranexamic Acid Serum, comes with licorice extract. It makes for an excellent overnight treatment that even helps to fight dark spots caused by acne.

We ascertain the use of licorice in skincare brands by a recognised dermatologist. Dr. Mikki Singh, a celebrity cosmetic dermatologist and an architect of Bodycraft Clinic, says, “Traditionally used to promote wound healing, current research suggests that licorice root extract, when used topically, have antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and even melanin-inhibiting properties. So, incorporating products that contain licorice root extract as an ingredient will help in treating skin issues such as acne marks, pigmentation, premature ageing, sensitive, and reddened skin.”

Earth Rhythm 2_ Tranexamic Acid Serum

Dr. Singh further adds, “Licorice root extract has been used for centuries, however, the awareness is considerably lesser. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is one of the most well-researched skincare ingredients. Licorice extract will work the best when used alongside such ingredients. Although they do share similar anti-ageing properties, one cannot replace the other.”


The re-emergence of this ayurvedic root looks promising, so let’s start the new year with cleaner skin, shall we?