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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 Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 ENN Pre Game - Pre Primer Toner Dr. Bronner's Hemp Peppermint Pure Castile Soap Rohto Mentholatum Melano CC Concentration Measures Toner MBH DERMACARE Clarifying Toner SheaMoisture African Water Mint Bubble Bath Body Wash Stridex Maximum Strength Medicated Pads Biobelle #Iwokeuplikethis Facial Mask Carmex Original Tube PHILIP B Peppermint & Avocado Shampoo Clinique Exfoliating Scrub Dr Organic Aloe Vera Toothpaste 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 Stridex Daily Care Acne Pads With Aloe For Sensitive Skin 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 Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear Cleanser Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear™ Bubble Foam Cleanser DRMTLGY Clay Mint Mask Dr Organic Aloe Vera Mouthwash Epionce Balance Toner Garnier Organic Thyme Toner Grown Alchemist Age-Repair Gel Masque La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner With Salicylic Acid Milk Makeup Blur Spray Rudolph Care Herbal Mint Shampoo 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 Charlotte Tilbury Collagen Lip Bath Gloss Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Oily Skin Formula CoverGirl Clean Pressed Powder CoverGirl Professional Loose Powder Garnier Hautklar Tägliches Anti-Pickel Waschgel Garnier Pure Active Deep Pore Unclogging Gel Wash Garnier Skinactive Hautklaraktiv Tiefen-Rein Bürste IS Clincal Active Serum