In many parts of the world, licorice extract is used to treat hyperpigmentation, or the darkening of skin and nails due to high levels of melanin. Licorice extract is considered one of the many natural compounds, along with various types of citrus fruits, that act as a skin brightener when applied topically.
Dilute the licorice extract with distilled water and form a compress to treat skin areas affected by hyperpigmentation. Pour the solution onto a small cloth and apply the compress for 10 to 15 minutes at least twice per day. While there is no set dilution ratio for licorice extract, you may want to start off with a solution that is 10 parts water to one part licorice extract to determine whether there are any side effects or skin irritations, and gently increase the concentration until you start to notice a lightening of the affected pigmentation.
Mix licorice extract with other natural compounds to treat hyperpigmentation. Extracts made from such natural ingredients as mulberry, raspberry, green tea, German chamomile, horse chestnut and grape seeds may increase the potency and skin brightening powers of pure licorice extract. You can use licorice extract in conjunction with lemon juice, which also acts as a skin brightener.
Use a moisturizing lotion on your skin after you use the licorice extract. Since the extract is alcohol-based, it is astringent and can dry out your skin.
Consult with your doctor before you take licorice extract to treat hyperpigmentation. Licorice may be harmful for people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease and other medical conditions. Large quantities of licorice can increase hypertension and excitability as well.
Find a reliable source for organic, high-grade licorice extract. Since most licorice root grows wild throughout Asia and Europe, you will want to find a reliable source for the purest extract possible, with a minimum of pesticides used. Look at online resources, such as iHerb.com, to find the highest-quality licorice extract (see Resources below).
While licorice extract has been used in various parts of the world to treat hyperpigmentation, there is no scientific evidence to support its effectiveness. In addition, there is no consensus on the amounts or concentrations of licorice extract that should be used.