In honor of Spring approaching, we are dedicating a post to two superstars in SHINE’s formula: little-known (and very potent) skin brighteners bearberry extract and licorice extract.

A common skin care ailment that many people struggle with is skin discoloration. Whether the discoloration is from sun spots, age spots, acne scars or an uneven skin tone–we’ve all been hit with it at one point or another. Even if your sun damage isn’t showing itself on the surface just yet, it’s usually creeping underneath, and is readily visible with UV photography (look here) or the “structure” function on instagram’s editing suite.

In any case, who doesn’t want brighter, clearer skin?! It’s kind of a no brainer. Both skin texture (clarity) and even skin tone are top contributing determinants for facial attractiveness (read full paper).. that’s like 2 of the top determinants out of the main 5. So, what can we do to achieve it?

Enter nature’s heroes: bearberry and licorice extracts.

Today we’ll talk all about the skin benefits of bearberry extract and licorice extract, using science (Woo hoo!) and how to fit them both into your skincare routine.

Bearberry and licorice extracts sound like something you would find in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory instead of your bathroom vanity, but they are actually some of the hottest skincare ingredients on the market today! While I am generally very wary of “hot trends” in the skincare world, these ingredients may actually have some great benefits!


Everytime someone asks me about how SHINE works and I mention bearberry as the #1 brightening extract–after the main carrier oil, organic pomegranate seed oil, of course, which is high in brightening vitamin C–I get a “Bear what? Bear berry!? What’s that?”

Bearberry has risen significantly in popularity since it was featured in a 2014 episode of Dr. Oz.  Oz claimed that bearberry extract prevents visible signs of aging (like age spots). While I won’t comment on the reliability Dr. Oz’s advice or the sensationality of television, I can tell you that bearberry really works. Here’s why: the leaves of the common bearberry contain arbutin, a natural compound that has been shown to inactivate the enzyme responsible for skin pigmentation.

The leaves of the common bearberry contain arbutin, a natural compound that has been shown to inactivate the enzyme responsible for skin pigmentation.

Bearberry foliage, the part of the Arctostaphylos uva-ursi plant that is most commonly used in cosmetic formulations, has been shown to effectively scavenge free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin (source). A study published in the March 2004 issue of Food Chemistryfound that bearberry leaf extract had even stronger free radical scavenging (i.e. antioxidant) properties than extracts made from wild licorice, senega, narrow-leaved echinacea, and aerial parts of two varieties of horsetail.

Even though bearberry sounds like the name of a children’s cereal box character, it packs a serious punch when it comes to anti aging benefits!


Licorice, the third most potent brightening agent in SHINE, isn’t just for old-fashioned candy! Licorice extract has anti-inflammatory properties and may interrupt the stimulation of the enzyme that activates production of melanin, the skin’s pigment. This makes it a powerful ingredient for improving dark spots and areas of hyperpigmentation.

Not only does it improve the appearance of dark spots, but it also has the ability to clear up acne-causing bacteria. It contains a component known as glabridin that is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient. This also makes it great for sensitive, reddened skin.

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Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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