Today is the beginning of my experiment with topical peppermint oil. The peppermint oil is the first test in my new approach of using topical anti-androgens to control sebum production on my excessively oily nose. Trying to solve the problem internally just wasn't getting me anywhere. I tried cutting out dairy, I tried zinc, I tried green tea, I tried fish oil, and I tried borage oil. No difference in my oily skin.
In my online research, I was surprised by the lack of personal experiences with topical anti-androgens, considering how desperate some people are to find a cure for their oily skin. So in light of the scant first-hand testimonials, I thought I would take it upon myself to give these treatments a test run.
First up is peppermint oil. My mixture is composed of peppermint oil, avocado oil, and water. It's hard to find consistent advice on the best ratio of peppermint oil to water or carrier oil, but I shoot for about 1:10. My mixing method is a little messy since all I do is put all of the oils and water onto a plate and mix them together with my fingers, so it's difficult to say what the exact ratio of the dilution is by the time it touches my skin.
For the purpose of this experiment, I am applying the peppermint oil only to the left side of my nose. This way I can compare that part of my nose to the rest of my nose and see if there is a difference, plus any potential side effects will be isolated to that one area. As a side note, I also just bought some green tea extract that I plan on using on the other side of my nose later this week, so I'll be testing out 2 topical anti-androgens simultaneously. I'm using the NOW brand of peppermint oil with the NOW brand of avocado oil.
I'll try to take pictures along the way for comparison.
Peppermint oil's application as an anti-sebum treatment was discovered in a 2004 study from Japan, where several topical treatments were tested for their anti-androgenic effects. Licorice was actually found to be the most effective, but there seems to be some apprehension surrounding licorice on the internet. I don't know the exact side effects of topical licorice, but I figured I'd play it safe and go with the next best thing.
"Potential activity of herbal extracts on sebum secretion was studied. Among the herbal extracts tested, polyol-soluble licorice extract P-U (product name) derived from Glycyrrhiza inflata showed the most potent testosterone 5 .ALPHA.-reductase inhibition, androgen receptor binding inhibition and antimicrobial activities, which are closely related to sebum secretion. In addition to the findings on polyol-soluble licorice extract P-U, clove extract and peppermint extract showed testosterone 5 .ALPHA.-reductase inhibition, arnica extract and rose fruit extract showed androgen receptor binding inhibition, alpinia speciosa root extract and scutellaria root extract showed estrogen receptor agonists, and sophora root extract showed antimicrobial activity. (author abst.)"
There is an Acne.org thread from 2007 called "peppermint oil reduces sebum" that contains multiple reports of success with peppermint oil:
marcg: "Well to put it succinctly, I diluted peppermint essential oil with distilled water 1:5, shake just prior to application (as invariably they will separate somewhat) and rub a few drops into my skin after showering. This is done twice daily. It has been a week now, and there is a marked decrease in sebum secretion. only the slightest trace of oil can be seen after 12 hours or so."
kidchicago: "My experience is that dilution of less than 10 to 1 water to oil is too irritating - it has caused flare ups. At the same time, this has definitely decreased the oiliness of my skin."
mervinjminky: "i'm trying peppermint oil (mentha piperita) mixed with purified water (1:20) since a week now and it decreases my sebum excretion in a quite impressive way."
just another 1: "Ok, I have been using the pure peppermint oil mixed 1 to 15 ( 1 part peppermint oil to 15 parts water) twice a day for a total of approx. 15 hours a day for about 1 week now. I can say that it has helped reduce my oil output."
ponyboy: "this shit def work like magic. i have used for 2 days and has completely cleared me up. nothing has ever worked for me except tane. this is amazing."
JÃ«rÃ«mÃ¿n: "I've been using it for a few years. I think it works wonderfully. Might be a bit harsh around the eyes, but other than that, it really helps regulate my sebum."
michael barry: "I KNOW that stuff is anti-andrognenic. Ive seen it on my own face big time"
chore boy: "I've been using peppermint during my shampooing for the last month or so and have noticed that it signifigantly retards sebum secretion on my scalp and face"