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Menthol needs no introduction: it's the thing that causes the cooling sensation so well-known both from cosmetic products as well as a bunch of other things like chocolate, chewing gum, toothpaste or cigarette. It's a natural compound that comes from the essential oil of Mentha species (peppermint oil contains 40-50% menthol) and it gives them their typical minty smell and flavor.

As for skincare, menthol seems to be a mixed bag. Apart from the cool cooling sensation (that might last up to 70 mins!), it also has painkilling, itch reducing, antibacterial, antifungal and even penetration enhancing properties. On the other hand, it also seems to act as a skin irritant that increases trans-epidermal water loss (the water that evaporates from the outer layer of the skin) and thus contributes to drying out the skin.

Show me some proof

  • Phytochemistry 96 (2013) 15–25, Menthol: A simple monoterpene with remarkable biological properties
  • Archives for Dermatological Research 288(5-6):245-8 · May 199, Effect of topically applied menthol on thermal, pain and itch sensations and biophysical properties of the skin

Products with Menthol

Snake Brand Prickly Heat Cooling Powder NOAH Treatment For Weak Hair Banish Fighter Gel Clinique For Men™ Face Soap With Dish Elemis Instant Refreshing Gel Indie Lee I-Recover Mind & Body Gel Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 ENN Pre Game - Pre Primer Toner Le Labo Camphor Balm Dr. Bronner's Hemp Peppermint Pure Castile Soap Rohto Mentholatum Melano CC Concentration Measures Toner Herbal Essence White Grapefruit & Mosa Mint Dry Shampoo L'Oreal Professionnel Serioxyl Fuller & Stronger Tonic MBH DERMACARE Clarifying Toner SheaMoisture African Water Mint Bubble Bath Body Wash Stridex Maximum Strength Medicated Pads Volition Eucalyptus Stretch Mark Minimizer Biobelle #Iwokeuplikethis Facial Mask Carmex Original Tube Lipbalm PHILIP B Peppermint & Avocado Shampoo e.l.f. Lip Plumping Gloss Arcona Tabula Rasa Spot Repair Treatment Clinique Exfoliating Scrub Dr Organic Aloe Vera Toothpaste Indie Lee Banish Stick KAMINOMOTO Medicated Shampoo KARMAMEJU Blaze / Power Potion 03 Max Love Gloss Lip Volumoso Neutrogena Reinigungsmaske Visibly Clear Anti Pickel 2 In 1 Obagi Clenziderm M.D. Daily Care Foaming Cleanser Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo Proraso Shaving Soap In A Bowl - Sensitive Skin Skin doctors Zit Zapper Stridex Daily Care Acne Pads With Aloe For Sensitive Skin iS Clinical Hydra-Cool Serum Biore Baking Soda Cleansing Scrub Clean & Clear Deep Action Cream Cleanser Codage Paris Concentrated Body Milk Slimming & Draining Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Conditioner Himalaya Herbals Mint Fresh Herbal Toothpaste Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Cream Cleanser Nip+Fab Cooling Fixing Mist Pond's Acne Clear Pore Conditioning Toner Arcona Men Clarity Aftershave Pads™ Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear Cleanser Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear™ Bubble Foam Cleanser Clinique For Men™ Face Scrub DRMTLGY Clay Mint Mask