Is Licorice Root Good for Brown Spots?

By Lisa Green

Licorice Root Lightens Skin

Licorice root extract is a common ingredient in many skin lightening products. Some clinical research supports the use of licorice root extract as an effective treatment to lighten skin and correct uneven pigmentation. Glabridin, an active ingredient in licorice root extract, inhibits the synthesis of melanin (the substance that gives skin and hair its color) in topical applications of 0.5 percent, according to a study published in the journal Pigment Cell Research.

More Research Is Needed

Despite the promising findings of a limited number of small studies, licorice root extract's skin lightening action is still considered unproven, according to the National Institute of Health. More comparative studies to test its efficacy against other skin bleaching agents is also needed. The only ingredient approved by the FDA for treating hyperpigmentation disorders is hydroquinone, although this compound is currently under investigation following concerns over its safety.

Bottom Line

The available research suggests that licorice root extract can be used to safely and effectively fade brown pigmentation marks, so its use for this purpose is unlikely to do the user any harm. However, the American Academy of Dermatology urges individuals to discuss their skin concerns and treatment options with a board-certified dermatologist. This is especially important since the recommended treatment for brown spots on the skin will depend on the cause.