Menthol is derived from peppermint. It can have the same irritating effect as peppermint when applied to skin. Even so, menthol, peppermint and spearmint are used in a surprisingly large number of products, particularly those marketed to help oily or acne-prone skin. Unfortunately, the cooling feeling menthol causes means your skin is irritated. It may feel nice when you have inflammatory acne, but you’re actually doing more damage to your skin. Menthol functions in skincare and cosmetics as a denaturating solution that masks the scent of other ingredients in a formula aka masking, deodorizing or refreshing, soothing ingredient.
Postgraduate Medicine, July 2013, pages 7-18
Archives of Dermatologic Research, May 1996, pages 245–248
Somatosensory and Motor Research, Volume 9, Issue 3, 1992, pages 235-244