Mint tends to be a take it or leave it kind of ingredient. There are those of us who love it in everything from oil diffusers, to lipgloss, to ice cream, while others could easily do without it. But regardless if you love it or hate it, is mint OK to use in skin care? I personally adore the scent, and the tingly sensation can be refreshing in the summer. But I have heard it's not the best for skin health. Before totally writing it off in my beauty products though, it seemed prudent to get the opinion of a couple of experts. So I emailed with Jessica Morelli, founder of Palermo, and Amy Galper, aromatherapist and founder of the New York Institute of Aromatherapy.
Turns out, mint can be kind of tricky. According to Morelli, "There are many different mint essential oils and although many share the same qualities, essential oils such as winter mint should not be used in skin care at all." So it's best, she says, to stick with commonly used peppermint whether you buy or DIY your skin care. Of course, if you do DIY your own treatments, both experts warn to never use peppermint essential oil (or any essential oil for that matter) directly on your skin.
Try: Artnaturals Peppermint Oil Set, $18, Artnaturals
To avoid causing irritation, Galper suggests diluting peppermint oil in distilled water to create a mist or in aloe vera to create a cooling gel. Morelli adds that peppermint oil can be diluted in your favorite carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba to maintain the consistency and reap moisturizing benefits. Even in a diluted form though, it is possible for mint to cause mild reactions in those with sensitive skin. So before using a product with mint, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to try a patch test first. Morelli also says that peppermint can be especially irritating to mucus membranes, so it is best to avoid using products that contain mint around the eye area.
As long as your peppermint is properly diluted and used in appropriate skin care though, there are a number of benefits this ingredient offers. According to Morelli, mint can help with sore muscle relief and soothing itchy skin (try it as a healing balm or bath salts for these concerns), and it even has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, making it a handy ingredient to use if you have acne-prone skin.
And perhaps what it's best known for, Galper says peppermint helps provide a cooling sensation to hot skin. Morelli adds some of the best ways to reap the cooling factor is with cleansing products such as soaps or scrubs. But for a longer-lasting chill, try a mint body lotion.
Whatever carrier you choose though, as long as your skin care contains peppermint rather than winter mint, is properly diluted, and you don't mind the cooling sensation, mint should be totally OK in your skin and body care.