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Hot and Cold

By: Steve Herman
Posted: April 27, 2012, from the May 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Materials reacting with the hot receptor TRPV1 (vanilloid receptor) have been studied almost as much as the menthol receptor, too. Vanillyl butyl ether (SenseHot from Sino Lion, Hotact VBE from Takasago) is an example. It creates hot sensory effects at levels as low as 0.05%. Pepper spray, based on oleoresin capsicum, is a nasty type of such chemistry. And vanillyl butyl ether can be added to lip products for tingle and plumping, with Smashbox’s O-Plump Intuitive Lip Plumper as one example.

Heating and cooling agents can also be combined, as in Mintiva Heat Therapy, which contains 3% menthol and 0.04% capsicum. Another mixture is seen in Kenneth Cole Reaction Deodorant, which contains menthyl PCA, menthyl lactate and vanillyl butyl ether.

New Neurocosmetics?

The compounds considered here are some of the classics of what can be glamorously termed neurocosmetics, and there are many ingredients that can interact with the nervous system to provide sensory benefits. The old standby menthol has a characteristic odor that is not present in many other materials, and the intensity, time of release and irritation potential can all be tuned through clever molecular engineering.

Everyone on product development teams should stay abreast of developments in this area, as they have the ability to give instant impact to consumers and send a message that the product is really doing something.


  1. (Accessed Apr 5, 2012)
  2. E Su and CG Wang, Pat US 6,897,195 B2, Composition of Menthol and Menthyl Lactate, Its Preparation Method and Its Applications as a cooling Agent. (2005)

Steve Herman is president of Diffusion LLC, a consulting company specializing in regulatory issues, intellectual property, and technology development and transfer. He is a principal in PJS Partners, offering formulation, marketing and technology solutions for the personal care and fragrance industry. He is an adjunct professor in the Fairleigh Dickinson University Masters in Cosmetic Science program and is a Fellow in the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.