Molecule of the Month: Menthyl Lactate

Menthyl lactate has a mild, cooling, fresh, minty, somewhat burnt sugarlike and sweet menthol taste profile. It is used in minty compounds for various purposes such as toothpaste, chewing gum and tobacco; it is also used in confections, beverages, and as a peppermint booster in oral care products. Menthyl lactate is produced in two forms—a white crystalline powder and fused material; both forms are used in various applications.

Menthyl lactate (l-menthyll- lactate) was, for several years, considered as an artificial cooling agent, despite its viable preparation from natural starting materials like l-menthol and l-lactic acid (see F-2). In 2006, menthyl lactate was identified in dementholized cornmint oil from India, and this enabled manufacturers to claim it as a natural or nature identical product, depending on its preparation process.

Menthyl lactate is a high performance cooling agent. The molecule provides a pleasant, long-lasting freshness and a cooling effect on the skin—all without the use of alcohol or menthol. It can also be used as a signal or marker to reinforce product benefits to consumers. For instance, menthyl lactate’s global usage as an active cosmetic ingredient can be used to highlight time related benefits of a final product. Additionally, it can be used as a cryogenic agent for sport injuries, together with menthol.

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