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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

NOAH Treatment For Weak Hair ENN Pre Game - Pre Primer Toner Rohto Mentholatum Melano CC Concentration Measures Toner SheaMoisture African Water Mint Bubble Bath Body Wash Stridex Maximum Strength Medicated Pads Biobelle #Iwokeuplikethis Facial Mask Carmex Original Tube Clinique Exfoliating Scrub KAMINOMOTO Medicated Shampoo Neutrogena Reinigungsmaske Visibly Clear Anti Pickel 2 In 1 Obagi Clenziderm M.D. Daily Care Foaming Cleanser Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo Stridex Daily Care Acne Pads With Aloe For Sensitive Skin Biore Baking Soda Cleansing Scrub Clean & Clear Deep Action Cream Cleanser Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Conditioner Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Cream Cleanser Epionce Balance Toner Garnier Organic Thyme Toner Grown Alchemist Age-Repair Gel Masque Shea Moisture Baobab & Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein-Free Conditioner SheaMoisture Tea Tree Oil & Shea Butter Havana Hurricane 4In1 All-Over Wash Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser Biore Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Oily Skin Formula CoverGirl Professional Loose Powder Garnier Hautklar Tägliches Anti-Pickel Waschgel Garnier Skinactive Hautklaraktiv Tiefen-Rein Bürste IS Clincal Active Serum ISKIN New York Lipaddict Omorovicza Revitalising Scalp Mask pharmatheiss Volume Lip Booster Acnol Lotion For Acne Garnier Pure Active Intensive Anti-Blackhead Charcoal Gel Wash J.J. Young Pore Glow Masque Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Tonic For Men Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask Noxzema Face Cleanser Nuteen Anti Acne Gel OXY Acne Control Toner Shea Moisture Baobab & Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein-Free Shampoo Topix Glycolix Elite Treatment Pads 15% Topix Glycolix Elite Treatment Pads 20% Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions All-Over Clearing Treatment Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Shampoo MINISO Tea Tree Essence Acne Treatment Gel SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Cleansing Gel SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Foaming Cleanser