Frequently Asked Questions about Nicomenthyl

Mechanism of action and properties

Once absorbed through the skin barrier, Menthyl nicotinate is slowly hydrolyzed into its original components: Niacin and Menthol.
Menthol has a refreshing effect, while Niacin generates a sensation of warmth and enhances skin microcirculation (mild modulated vasodilation). With no irritation or sensitization.
Furthermore, Niacin triggers a complex cascade of biochemical reactions that produce one of the most important cellular coenzymes, NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). NAD plays a pivotal role in hundreds of enzymatic reactions, including those related to energy (ATP) production, many reduction-oxidation metabolic reactions, the Krebs cycle, as well as many others involved in cell signaling within the immune system, DNA repair, epithelial cell renewal, the synthesis of particular lipids (ceramides) essential to skin barrier functionality and integrity.

Nicomenthyl Hydrolysis

A Doppler Laser Blood-flow Velocity Test has been carried out on twenty volunteers of both sexes, using a topical preparation containing 3% of Nicomenthyl 20, compared to a negative control (placebo). Increases in microcirculatory flow values reached remarkable levels, up to nearly 150% at 30 minutes and 90% at 60 minutes after application, without any irritating or sensitizing effects.


The main benefits of enhanced blood flow are: a) increased supply of oxygen, nutrients and glucose b) removal of cellular waste products c) enhanced skin barrier integrity.


Skin Barrier Integrity is an extremely important concept in skin care. It mainly refers to the stratum corneum (outermost layer of the epidermis) and describes the strength and resilience of the skin and how well it protects the internal tissues and organs from external aggressions. Desquamation (shedding) of skin barrier helps remove bacteria and other infectious agents that have adhered to the epithelial surfaces. The skin barrier is highly impermeable, a characteristic designed to prevent the loss of water out of the skin and to keep out damaging agents such as bacteria, viruses, chemicals, oxidants, pollutants, smoke particles, UV radiations, etc. It is the front shield of the innate immune system, acting as the first line of defense against invading microorganisms.

Keeping the skin barrier function in good condition fits entirely into the general definition of “cosmetic product”: “… any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance, protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odours” (Regulation (EC) no 1223/2009 of 30 November 2009 on cosmetics products, art. 2).

Because, once absorbed through skin barrier, Nicomenthyl 20 slowly releases niacin (Vitamin B3) into the skin. Niacin is the precursor of coenzyme NAD (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide), that is the most important biochemical factor responsible for skin barrier integrity. NAD is used in over 450 biochemical reactions, most of which are involved with crucial anabolic and catabolic functions, such as: cell energy production (ATP), chromosome stability, DNA repair, immune cell signaling, redox reactions, epidermal renewal, cell longevity mechanisms, etc.

Nicomenthyl hydrolysis

Recent studies have confirmed that a very high rate of penetration occurs, reaching 53.8% of the applied dose in only 30 minutes. The whole process of skin absorption gets practically completed in a period of 24 hours after application.

Skin absorption rate

Nicomenthyl 20, being a powerful skin microcirculation enhancer (thanks to its time-release transcutaneous delivery of Vitamin B3), has deep beneficial effects on hair follicle cycling.
The increased blood flow generated by Nicomenthyl 20 in the hairbulb zone is essential for oxygenating, transporting nutrients and glucose, removing cellular waste products, as per the graph shown below.
Such functions are instrumental in preventing excessive hair loss and promoting hair fullness.

Hair cycle

Yes, it is. The time-release high transcutaneous delivery of Vitamin B3 and the enhancement of skin microcirculation produced by Nicomenthyl 20 are key factors for oxygenating, transporting nutrients and glucose, removing cellular waste products in all types of skin.

In some cases it can even improve it. As a matter of fact, Nicomenthyl 20, because of its high boiling point, may act as a fixative of the more volatile fractions, thus reducing their vanishing rate and bettering the whole fragrance longevity.

Because such high concentrations are useless and needless. For concentrations higher than those recommended, the amount of niacin released into the skin by the hydrolyzation of menthyl nicotinate could produce a vasodilation (niacin-flush) much stronger than necessary, and that result could be bothersome though still not dangerous.

Nicomenthyl 20 may be used in all kinds of cosmetic products at the following recommended concentrations:
Face Products: 0.5 – 1%
Body Products: 0.5 – 3%

Special Products (such as skin barrier enhancing serums, cellulite intensive treatment and prevention, intensive hair loss preventive treatments, legs toning and anti-fatigue treatments, etc.): 5%

The sensorial strenght of Nicomenthyl 20 depends: 1) on its concentration in the finished product 2) on the type of cosmetic formulation (water-based emulsion, hydroalcoholic lotions, fatty or anhydrous compositions, etc. 3) on the presence or absence in formulation of carriers such as: solubilizers, glycols, alcohols, light oils with high spreading values, etc. 4) on the body area where the product is applied.
The best way to evaluate the sensorial strength and longevity of Nicomenthyl 20 is to apply on the lips a cosmetic water-based composition containing it at a concentration of 3%.

Through the two moieties of its molecule (i.e. the niacinic vaso-active warming moiety and the menthyl cooling one), Nicomenthyl 20, duly dosed and solubilized in cosmetic finished products, exerts also a kind of “modulator” and synergistic effect over several other sensorial agents. These, when used in combination with Nicomenthyl 20, extend their efficacy in time with a less aggressive impact on the skin.
An example of this is the result obtained when Nicomenthyl 20 is used in combination with Menthol: the refreshing effect of Menthol becomes sort of softened, modulated and dramatically extended with less unpleasant side effects.
A similar modulating action occurs with the warming sensorial agents (i.e. those which activate the heat-sensitive thermo-receptors), such as Vanillyl butyl ether, Methyl nicotinate, Ginger essential oil, etc.: the menthyl moiety of Nicomenthyl 20 molecule produces a sort of “attenuated”, modulating effect, which results in a more gentle, pleasant and persistent warmth sensation.

The unique and modulated sensory effect which characterizes Nicomenthyl 20 is particularly long-lasting. Its typical fresh tingling sensation can still be perceived even one hour after the application, depending of course on the concentration being used and the type of finished product containing it.