the mint

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the mint

the mint

IF THE newest beauty items are anything to go by, the humble mint plant is set for a renaissance. Follow MANDY FRANCIS’S guide to its amazing list of benefits – and the face, body and hair products to harness them .

All-purpose herb MINTS – of which there are an estimated 20 plant varieties – offer more than familiar, fresh fragrances. It is one of those ingredients that stubbornly remain on the cosmetics counters, albeit in updated guises.

Heather Love, managing director of Health And Beauty Solutions, which produces a wide range of toiletries containing mint essential oils, says: ‘Mints have a host of therapeutic benefits.

‘This means beauty products containing a reasonable amount of mint essential oil really can make a difference to the mind and spirit, as well as the body.’ The most common ‘cosmetic’ mints are peppermint, spearmint and the pungent mint derivative, menthol.

Wake up your face MINT works well in cleansers and specialist treatment products for oily and problem skins. It feels refreshingly cool and has mild antiseptic and antibacterial qualities.

But be warned: never apply neat mint essential oil to skin.

It is particularly powerful and can cause irritation. Try one of the following specially formulated products instead.

Very oily skins will benefit from daily use of Darphin’s menthol and camphor-infused Purifying Cleansing Milk ([pounds sterling]18.50/200ml), formulated to minimise enlarged pores and treat blackheads and blemishes as it gently removes makeup and grime (stockists and mail order, 0181-847 1777).

If your skin is normal to oily or combination, your complexion will prefer BeneFit’s gentler Fantasy Mint Wash ([pounds sterling]20/115ml; call 0901 1130001 for stockists).

It’s a pastel-pink cleansing souffle with added soothing aloe vera and moisturising shea butter. You lather it up on damp skin and rinse it away with warm water.

Alternatively, Origins Mint Wash ([pounds sterling]12.20/200ml), with spearmint, lemon and lavender, is just right to give combination skin a cleansing boost.

Any tired, jetlagged or morning-after-the-night-before face will respond beautifully to Wu’s award-winning Morning! Mask

([pounds sterling]23.50/30ml), available from Liberty, Harrods and by mail order (0171-240 6313).

This harnesses the powerful, chilly sensation of menthol with rejuvenating ginseng and skin-brightening Chinese pearl powder to produce an uplifting, eye-watering 60-second treatment that will restore a glow to the most pallid complexion.

For a weekly deep-cleanse for oily skin, try Darphin’s Sebo-mask ([pounds sterling]29.50/50ml; stockists as before), a clay-based face mask which helps to regulate sebaceous secretions and calm skin eruptions and blotchiness.

Hair-raising MINT is such a powerful herb that you should avoid anything containing it while taking homeopathic remedies because it acts as an antidote.

But Claire Besent, aroma-therapist at Apotheke 20:20 in Chiswick, West London, says: ‘The cooling effect of mint on the skin means that when it is used on the head and hair, it works brilliantly as a bracing scalp tonic.’

Stimulating a healthy blood supply to hair follicles is exactly what is needed to ensure healthy hair growth. Mint is gently analgesic, too – hair products containing mint essential oil will help to soothe away a headache or hangover.

‘Mint can also mask the smell of chlorine, which makes these shampoos and conditioners a good choice for swimmers,’ says Heather Love.

Original Mint Source’s Tea Tree & Mint Shampoo and Conditioner for Extra Body ([pounds sterling]2.99/300ml; from chemists and supermarkets) release such powerful menthol vapours when used with warm water that they will send shivers down your spine.

These products also add weight to fine hair.