Cooling and invigorating, Menthol is the substance primarily responsible for the distinctively “minty” fragrance and flavor found in peppermint, eucalyptus, and other mint plants. The compound was first extracted in the West in the 1700s. At room temperature, it is a solid, waxy, crystalline substance with a white or clear appearance.
Menthol’s most unique property is its ability to create a cool feeling on the skin. Much like the capsaicin in hot chili peppers stimulates heat receptors in the skin, Menthol blocks calcium currents in the nerves and triggers cold-sensitive TRPM8 receptors. This sensation is not only refreshing, but therapeutic — as a “counterirritant”, it acts on nerve endings to reduce itching, pain, and other irritations.
As a vasodilator, Menthol improves blood flow to the skin wherever it is applied, bringing life back to dull, tired complexions. Additionally, it reduces the production of inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins to help improve red and inflamed skin. As an added benefit, Menthol assists skin’s absorption of many other ingredients, boosting the overall efficacy and benefits from skincare products. Although all skin types will enjoy Menthol’s reinvigorating qualities, it is best for alleviating inflamed, acne-prone skin.