Best for: skin brightening. This root, primarily grown in Greece, Turkey, and Asia, contains glabridin, a compound that Japanese scientists found to lighten skin by suppressing melanin formation.

The proof: Studies showed that a topical application of 0.5 percent glabridin inhibited UVB–induced pigmentation and redness. Other studies confirm that licorice reduces hyperpigmentation and brightens skin.

Plant stem cells

Best for: wrinkle reduction, skin firming. One of natural beauty’s rising stars, plant stem cells are most commonly extracted from fruits such as apples and grapes. Because skin cells die frequently, replenishing them with plant stem cells is a leading way to prevent and reverse signs of aging.

The proof: New research supports plant stem cells’ ability to help the skin’s own stem cell production. They also assist with cell differentiation, a process that creates proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids that repair fine lines and maintains skin’s firmness and elasticity, according to Jacknin.