Learn with a neuroscientist: the neurocosmetic benefits of Peppermint Oil in skincare

Learn with a neuroscientist: the neurocosmetic benefits of Peppermint Oil in skincare

We are so proud to be working with our in-house neuroscience consultant, Dr. Jennifer Newson on the neurocosmetic properties of natural essences. Here are some great reasons to add pure menthol containing ingredients into your skincare routine (in our case, we prefer the organic peppermint oil in our cleansing balm.)


  • Natural menthol is primarily found in two essential oils namely peppermint and cornmint (Japanese mint) and for centuries people have been applying mint oils to the skin to create cooling sensations.


  • Beyond this common property of cooling, evidence also shows that menthol has the ability to both relieve pain and reduce the sensations of itching/irritation.


  • Scientific research has shown that menthol activates a number of different receptors in the skin.


  • It was in 1886 that Goldsheider first showed that menthol could produce a sensation of cooling on the skin. However it was only in 2002 that researchers finally discovered the mechanism. Two independent research groups - one at University of California and one at the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego, discovered the site of action of menthol - the TRPM8 receptor. They showed that this receptor was activated by both menthol and cool temperatures.


  • So the major way that menthol creates its cooling sensation is through these specific temperature sensitive biological switches - or receptors - that are present on the nerve fibres in the skin. These "A and C" nerve fibres are free nerve endings which extend into the deeper levels of the skin.


  • When it comes to menthol’s ability to help relieve pain/irritation, scientists still aren’t yet 100% clear about the way this works. It could possibly be by increasing blood flow in the skin at the site of application. This leads to an increase in skin temperature and so acts in the same way that heat therapy can work.


  • Alternatively, it might be that menthol can disrupt pain signalling by acting directly on pain (nociceptive) nerve fibres similar to the way that the chemical in chilli peppers, capsaicin, works. Other research suggests that it could be more of an indirect mechanism, where the cooling/activation of the TRPM8 receptor leads to a inhibition of pain pathways, relieving pain sensations (cold itself is known to be analgesic) or in various other ways such as blocking sodium channels or influencing Ca2+ currents.


  • In relation to menthol’s ability to relieve sensations of itching/irritation, various possible mechanisms are postulated. For example, menthol is known to activate K-opioid receptors - receptors that are known to be linked to itch sensations, while other studies have shown that both cooling and menthol can reduce histamine-induced itch sensations in the skin.


So for your mint hit, check out our Cool + Power Cleansing Balm! First thing in the morning, the cooling mint can activate your nerve endings to wake up puffy skin, and last thing at night calm any irritation, itching or inflammation that has built up during the day from make-up or other products! It's backed by neuroscience!


Thank you Dr Jen!




  • Bromm B, Scharein E, Darsow U, Ring J. Effects of menthol and cold on histamine-induced itch and skin reactions in man. Neurosci Lett. 1995 Mar 10;187(3):157-60.
  • Kamatou GP, Vermaak I, Viljoen AM, Lawrence BM. Menthol: a simple monoterpene with remarkable biological properties. Phytochemistry. 2013 Dec;96:15-25.
  • Leffingwell, John. (2009). Cooling Ingredients and Their Mechanism of Action. 10.1201/b15273-66.
  • McKemy DD, Neuhausser WM, Julius D. Identification of a cold receptor reveals a general role for TRP channels in thermosensation. Nature. 2002 Mar 7;416(6876):52-8.
  • Patel T, Ishiuji Y, Yosipovitch G. Menthol: a refreshing look at this ancient compound. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 Nov;57(5):873-8.
  • Peier AM, Moqrich A, Hergarden AC, Reeve AJ, Andersson DA, Story GM, Earley TJ, Dragoni I, McIntyre P, Bevan S, Patapoutian A. A TRP channel that senses cold stimuli and menthol. Cell. 2002 Mar 8;108(5):705-15.
Back to blog