If you take a whiff of mint, you can experience its cool, refreshing aroma. Imagine how your skin might feel if it were smoothed and caressed with it - would you experience the same feeling? The sensation can be addictive. Many people enjoy its taste in chewing gum, a cup of tea or other foods. But most people probably don't think of mint as something that can improve their health and beauty.
Today, you can find mint in a variety of beauty products from shampoos to cleansers and moisturizers, and for good reason. The benefits of mint have been long known throughout history. The ancient Egyptians and ancient Romans prized it for its pleasant aroma, using it to scent the air in homes and temples. During the Middle Ages, people used mint as a cleaning agent and a way to purify drinking water. The early colonists bringing herbs to America praised mint for its therapeutic benefits, using it to treat fevers and influenza [source: West Virginia University].
If you take a look at the labels on beauty products, you may notice the words Mentha piperita or Mentha spicata in the ingredients. Mentha piperita is the Latin name for peppermint, and Mentha spicata is spearmint -- two common kinds of mint. Although beauty products will most likely contain one of these two common types, there are more than 30 species in the mint family of plants.
In skin care products, mint is used in skin creams, toners, body lotions and face masks. Its leaves can be ground up to use as mint juice, pureed to make a paste and be made into mint oil. As a beauty treatment product, it's often combined with other natural ingredients such as lavender, chamomile, jojoba and aloe vera.
Read on to find out why you may want to have some fresh mint handy during a very stressful week at school, home or work, and when paired with sun block, mint can give you that healthy skin and body that you yearn for.
Skin Benefits of Mint
As an aromatic ingredient, mint can soothe the senses and provide a pleasant scent to a variety of products for daily use. In products like shampoos, lip balms and mouth rinses, mint can give you a refreshing feeling. But in skin care products, mint can have benefits that go beyond just its aroma. It actually can help improve your skin's condition.
If you look at the beauty products in your bathroom cabinet, you may be surprised to find that some of them contain mint. Chances are it's labeled as "menthe." What makes mint a beneficial ingredient for skin care is its ability to act as an anti-pruritic agent. That means that its juice can soothe and calm skin that's itchy or infected. You can even use it to help heal bites from mosquitoes, wasps and bees. Because mint contains vitamin A, it may strengthen skin tissue and help reduce oily skin.
You've probably never considered rubbing mint oil on your face to prevent pimples from popping up or to treat wounds and rashes. Mint oil, however, has served as a natural astringent, and people have used it to treat these problems for a long time. What makes mint helpful in treating inflammations such as acne is its high content of salicylic acid [source: Web MD]. This acid, which is found naturally in mint, is an active ingredient used in many skin care products. The acid loosens up dead skin cells, allowing them to shed easier. That has the potential to prevent your pores from clogging up, resulting in fewer pimples and clearer skin.
With the many potential benefits to your skin, mint is a natural ingredient you may want to try. Read on to learn about the different ways you can use mint as a skin care treatment.
Mint Skin Care Treatments
While the pleasant aroma of mint can positively affect your oral senses, the herb has a wide variety of uses. Its dual role as an aromatic treatment and skin care treatment allows it to be used in several different ways.
There are many masks available on the market that use mint as a main ingredient. While you can choose from any of these products to do a mint facial, it's possible to make your own at home and save money. Mint facial masks are especially beneficial for people with oily skin. Many recipes recommend mixing two tablespoons (15 milliliters) of mint with oatmeal and yogurt. All you need to do after making the mixture is to apply it to your face. After 10 minutes, rinse the mask off with warm water.
There are also many cleanser products with mint in them. Mint can act as an astringent in a cleanser by shrinking skin tissue and reducing the amount of oil in the skin [source: Public Broadcasting Service]. Just as with facial masks, you can choose from a wide variety of skin cleanser products that contain mint, or you can make your own using fresh mint leaves.
Popular mint drinks like peppermint tea can also help with digestion problems, including bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gallstones. Because of its soothing effects, many people recommend peppermint for headaches, colds and the flu [source: University of Maryland].
If you visit a spa, you'll likely find that many of the treatments there include mint. Despite its benefits to health, however, spas mostly use mint for its scent, which many people find relaxing and soothing. It's is often combined with other natural scents such as lemon or lavender for body and face treatments.
If you want to learn more about mint and skin care, see the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Fialho, Anna. "Love." American Way Magazine. (Sept. 28, 2009) http://www.americanwaymag.com/mint-chocolate-chip-taste-treatment-and-research-foundation-for-dreyerrsquosedyrsquos-grand-ice-cream
- Public Broadcasting Service. "Tropical Island Day Spa." (Sept. 28, 2009) http://www.pbs.org/weta/roughscience/discover/dayspa.html
- Telpner, Meghan. "Making Love in the Kitchen: Minty Fresh Mint Harvesting." The Appetizer, Aug. 25, 2009. (Sept. 28, 2009)) http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/theappetizer/archive/2009/08/25/making-love-in-the-kitchen-minty-fresh.aspx
- University of Maryland. "Peppermint." 2009. (Sept. 28, 2009)
- Web MD. "The Basics of Salicylate Allergies." (Sept. 28, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/salicylate-allergy
- West Virginina University. "Growing herbs in the garden." (Sept. 28, 2009) http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/hortcult/herbs/ne208hrb.htm