Sun damage: Licorice Extract and Salicylic Acid Masque

So now that I'm down to a very very basic regimen for my closed comedone (cloggy pores!) acne, I'm going add licorice extract to the mask I already use. Please see my post about how licorice root works on skin pigmentation.

And here's a recipe for licorice skin toner. And here's a post on how it worked out for me.

To review a bit:

The production of melanin is regulated by tyrosinase, an enzyme present in the melanocytes. It converts an amino acid called tyrosine into dopaquinone. This in turn is convered to melanin granules. In order to prevent hyperpigmentation, tyrosinase action can be disrupted.

The transfer of melanin from the melanocytes to the keratinocytes is regulated by the cleavage of PAR-2 (protease-activated receptor). Soybean trypsin inhibitor (STI) and Bowman-Birk inhibitor (BBI), both proteins found in soy, and niacinamide, a vitamin B3 derivative, have all been found to inhibit the cleavage of PAR-2.

So in order to be an effective lightener, the formula should contain:
  • A tyrosinase inhibitor to decrease melanin production (it can't be stopped completely);
  • A PAR-2 cleavage inhibitor to disrupt the transfer of any melanin to the skin surface;
  • An exfoliant to remove any cells with excess melanin that do manage to make it to the top.

The Formula

So the licorice is the tyrosinase inhibitor
The salicylic acid is our exfoliant

I'm going to start with just these two. I already know the salicylic acid has a positive impact on my clogging issues, so I'll add just the licorice first. If the licorice works out I'll add the PAR-2 cleavage inhibitor (B3 niacinamide) to my next formula and see if my clear pores are maintained.

Licorice Extract from

Masque Recipe

Okay! So I'm starting by adding the licorice extract to my regular salicylic face mask. suggests a 5 to 7 % concentration of the licorice extract. It's water soluble, so it will dissolve in the honey. Here's my recipe:

I made this recipe based on 1/4 teaspoons.

1/4 teaspoon salicylic acid powder (10%)
1/2 teaspoon alcohol (20%)
3/16 teaspoon licorice extract (@ 7%)
1.6 teaspoons raw, unfiltered, local honey

Okay, this is probably not the most scientific way to do things, but since the salicylic acid content is only about 10 %, it seems safe enough. (It's not good to play around too much with salicylic acid. For me, a 15 % concentration is too much, so if I'm unsure or trying out a new recipe, I'd keep it to around 10 %).

So I estimated the ingredients.

Put 1/4 teaspoon of salicylic acid powder in a glass bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of alcohol and stir with a wooden chopstick until dissolved. Add 1/4 teaspoon of licorice extract, then add half that again into the mix, so it's around 3/16 of a teaspoon (I did it this way because I don't have, nor have I ever seen, a 1/16 teaspoon!).  Stir it up, and add a little more than 1 1/2 teaspoons of your honey.

Salicilic acid from

Mix it up good!

Put it on your face. I use the whole thing, and it tingles at first, for about 5 minutes. Leave it on for 45 minutes to an hour and then rinse it off with cool water. Wipe your face with a clean, cool washcloth and rinse again. Moisturize with a little hemp oil. I usually put the hemp oil on my face without drying it. That keeps more moisture in your skin.

The immediate result was a very very soft and clean face. After a few weeks of using this maybe once a week and the toner every day, lightening should be visible. It works for me!


  1. Wow! It never occurred to me to make my own skin care products. I will have to check this out!
    Nice to meet ya. I'm Sandy from the Etsy blog team.

  2. Hey Sandy! Making your own is the best way to go! I save over 100 bucks a month, as far as I can tell.

  3. Thanks for all the great skin tips- especially for hyperpigmentation..I'm in dire need! I was considering purchasing some of the peels on the MUAC website after reading many positive reviews, but feel much more comfortable with your more natural/less toxic options. Out of curiosity, the image of 5-7% licorice extract from making shows a bottle containing what looks like a brown liquid, but when I went to the website they offer an opaque bottle and it's described as licorice extract in a base of glycerin--I just want to make sure this is the same product before purchasing. One last thing, I'm based in Canada- if you have any recommendations for suppliers either in Canada or those who ship to Canada for lower shipping prices, I'm all ears!! Thanks again for all your great research and helpful tips.

  4. Hi Miri, thanks for these great posts! The links to the "licorice explained", and the results link send us to a 404 on your old blog. Also, have you tried the niacinamide yet, if yes, did you write about it! Thanks!