Beyond its incredible scent and aromatherapy power, peppermint oil is one of the most versatile essential oils to have stocked in your medicine cabinet. This key ingredient has been applied both cosmetically and medicinally for thousands of years, and records of peppermint oil use may be traced back to ancient Egypt. While its origins may be ancient, there's never been a better time to add this fragrant, healing substance to your beauty bag. But how exactly can it help? We consulted doctors Rosemarie Ingleton and Charles R. Elder, and esthetician Heather Wilson to get all the best of it—from its rejuvenating and healing powers to headache and nausea reliefs. Read on for the 11 top benefits of peppermint oil.
Meet the Expert
- Charles R. Elder, MD, MPH, focuses on integrative medicine. He combines his clinical practice expertise with an interest in applying complementary medicine to mainstream medical care.
- Heather Wilson is a licensed esthetician and director of brand development at InstaNatural.
- Rosemarie Ingleton, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of Ingleton Dermatology in NYC. She's also the founder of ROSE Ingleton MD Skincare.
One of the best benefits of peppermint oil is its ability to cleanse and rejuvenate skin. Combine four to five drops of peppermint oil with a tablespoon of fine Himalayan rock salt and two tablespoons of tamanu oil (olive oil will also work in a pinch) for a refreshingly natural, restorative facial scrub. Ingleton alerts that caution must be taken before applying peppermint oil to the skin. "Make sure that the peppermint oil is highly diluted to avoid causing skin reactions and burning."
Heal a Sore Throat
To help soothe a sore throat or alleviate your cold, add a couple of drops of peppermint oil into 1/4 of a teaspoon of salad oil. Dissolve a half-teaspoon of rock salt into a glass of warm water and whisk in the peppermint oil mixture. According to Elder, this is safe and may provide symptomatic relief for some people. Gargle this mixture once or twice daily to relieve inflammation and kill bacteria.
Make a Homemade Shampoo
For a cleansing and energizing boost to your regular hair care routine, add a few drops of peppermint oil to your shampoo. The antiseptic properties of peppermint oil make it ideal for DIY scalp treatments and clean, healthy roots. Spoiler alert to number six: it can also promote hair growth through blood stimulation to the skin.
Soothe Itchy Skin
Because peppermint oil gives a cooling sensation and can provide relief of discomfort, one of its top benefits is to help to soothe itchy skin on the body. Dilute two drops of pure peppermint oil in one tablespoon of aloe vera gel or warm coconut oil and smooth over itchy or dry skin. Add a drop of tea tree oil for added relief. Wilson alerts that it's important to patch test if the skin is irritated and avoid products that contain too much peppermint—as it could cause irritation.
Peppermint oil has antiseptic and antibacterial benefits that can work as a natural alternative for clearing acne-prone skin. It's best used in conjunction with two drops of eucalyptus oil, five drops of peppermint oil diluted with one tablespoon of tamanu oil, and can be dabbed directly on pimples and left to absorb overnight. The menthol properties can also decongest the skin and reduce redness, making diluted peppermint oil a potentially cooling option for mild rosacea.
Stimulate Hair Growth
Peppermint oil helps to stimulate blood circulation, improving the health of the scalp and hair follicles, leading to hair growth. Combine a few drops of peppermint oil with a tablespoon of coconut oil—massage over your scalp and through your hair before washing with shampoo. You can also sub the coconut oil with emu oil, known for nourishing hair and potentially boosting growth. Briogeo's Scalp Revival combines peppermint, tea tree, and spearmint oils to calm the scalp with an invigorating cooling sensation.
Ward Off Bug Bites
As much as we may love peppermint oil, bugs hate it. Spray a bit of diluted peppermint oil to try to fend off ticks, spiders, ants, and mosquitoes. Natural bug sprays use peppermint oil as one of their active ingredients, including various other oils such as lemongrass, citronella, and geranium. "If you do get a bug bite, applying diluted peppermint oil to the area can be a great way to reduce some of the pain and itching," says Wilson.
Heal a Sunburn
Wilson confirms that peppermint is excellent to provide cooling relief and dull the discomfort associated with a sunburn, which is important to its healing. "The most important part of healing a sunburn is to keep the skin hydrated and to allow the heat to disperse," she adds.
To best support these efforts, peppermint oil is best applied with aloe vera to cool the skin while maintaining hydration without trapping the heat. Grab a two-ounce glass bottle and fill it almost to the top with aloe vera gel. Add 15 drops of peppermint oil and shake vigorously. Smooth the mixture over your skin to soothe inflammation and expedite the healing process.
One of our favorite benefits of peppermint oil is to be found in DIY lip balm for soft lips. Combine equal parts shea butter, coconut oil, and grated beeswax, and then heat in a double boiler until fully melted. Add peppermint oil (about a quarter teaspoon per half-cup of melted mixture). Allow to cool, and then place in metal or plastic tubes or tins.
Menthol is the main component of peppermint oil, and it has been used to treat some kinds of pain: "Clinical studies have shown that topical peppermint oil administration can help relieve tension headaches," says Elder. Apply some drops to the forehead and temples to relieve the discomfort. Remember to rest and avoid too much stress.
Inhaling peppermint oil helps to lower symptoms like nausea and vomiting. "When used as aromatherapy, some studies have verified that peppermint oil can help to relieve symptoms of postoperative nausea and vomiting," Elder says. It can also be applied to pregnant women to try to curb morning sickness. Add a few drops of peppermint oil to boiling water or to a humidifying diffuser to inhale this powerful vapor. Just be aware not to take pure essential oils orally.
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