Why is menthol in my skincare routine?

What is menthol

Menthol is a naturally occurring ingredient that is used in cosmetics and skin care products for its cooling properties and smell. Some studies suggest that menthol can also help relieve mild pain when used as a topical analgesic.

Menthol is an organic compound that can be extracted from peppermint, cornmint or other mint oils. Mentha arvensis or wild mint is the primary type of mint from which natural menthol crystals and natural menthol flakes are made. Menthol can also be produced synthetically. It is a waxy, crystalline substance of clear or white color that is solid at room temperature and easily melts over it.

Not only is menthol used in the cosmetics industry, but it is also part of several over-the-counter or non-prescription drugs because of its local anesthetic and anti-irritant properties. A counter-irritant is a substance that causes irritation or mild inflammation in one area with the aim of reducing discomfort and / or inflammation in another area. For this reason, menthol is used as a topical cough suppressant in some OTC cold medications. Think of menthol-based ointments that you rub on your chest.

the breakdown


the good:Helps the skin feel cool, improves the scent of products, and when applied topically, can help relieve mild pain.

not that good:When formulated with alcohol bases, may cause slight eye irritation from steam.

For whom is that?All skin types except those identified as having an allergy.

Synergetic ingredients:Works well with most ingredients

Keep an eye on:There is nothing to observe here.

Why is menthol used in skin care?

Menthol is used in cosmetics and skin care products to relieve pain and improve the smell and taste of the product.

Cool down and pain relief
Menthol can also act as a topical analgesic or pain reliever in certain skin care products. You can often find menthol in cleaning products and laundry detergents designed for acne or other painful skin conditions that aren’t particularly sensitive or after sun care. This is due to menthol’s ability to create a cooling sensation.

Instead of lowering skin temperature, the cooling effect occurs when menthol blocks the flow of calcium along the nerves that are responsible for temperature sensing. The nerve endings send a message to the brain that the skin is cooling. The cooling feel of menthol makes it a very useful ingredient in after-sun products like creams, lotions, and gels as it relieves the hot, painful sensation caused by excessive sun exposure. Menthol is also found in products that can be topically applied to the forehead to relieve pain caused by headaches.

Smell and taste
Other uses of menthol in cosmetics and personal care products include as a fragrance and flavor. Menthol has a characteristic mint taste and smell. Finally, menthol is used in lip care products because it improves blood flow to that area and has a temporary replenishing effect.

Is menthol safe to use on the skin?

The United States Food and Drug Administration or the FDA adds menthol to its list of substances generally recognized as safe for use in food. It is also an approved direct food additive. The FDA has also determined that menthol is safe and effective in OTC cold medicines as a topical antitussive (cough suppressant) and in OTC anorectal medicines as an analgesic, anesthetic, and antipruritic. Studies of US National Toxicology Program found that menthol is not genotoxic or carcinogenic.

What are some other uses of menthol?

Menthol is used as a denaturing agent that is used in products that contain ethanol. Since ethanol is used to make digestible alcohol like alcohol, wine, and beer, menthol is used to avoid paying taxes on alcohol that is not intended for consumption. In the United States, alcoholic beverages are heavily taxed. To avoid paying beverage taxes on alcohol that is not intended for consumption, e.g. For use in, for example, cosmetics and personal care products, alcohol must be denatured according to the specific formulations specified by the US Government’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). . The process adds a small amount of a denaturant to the alcohol to make it taste bad, creating alcohol that is not suitable for drinking but is otherwise similar for other uses.

References:Yosipovitch, G., Szolar, C., Hui, X & Maibach, H., 1996. “Effect of Topically Applied Menthol on Thermal Pain and Itching Sensations and Biophysical Properties of the Skin,” Archives of Dermatological Research, vol. 288, pp. 245-248.
Pergolizzi, J. et al. 2018. “The role and mechanism of action of menthol in topical analgesics,” The Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, vol. 43, is.3.

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