New ingredients for heat rubs

Most heat rubs are based on methyl salicylate and/ormenthol and/or Capsaicin as the active, but I am looking for alternatives to these three.

We have used vanillyl butyl ether and this seems to be either effective for some people but not others - but not all people seem to feel the warmth from it; and, seems to be inneffective in products over 6 months old (or at least seems the case with our trial samples)
I have come across methyl nicotinate - which opinions seem to differ on effectiveness. Nicotinic acid will cause a niacin flush if ingested. But will it do the same tocpically?

Are there any other warming active ingredients (or inactive/excipients) I can consider that will have a topical warming action?


  • be very careful with methyl nicotinate it will absolutely redden the skin and I would say its less of a warm feeling than tingling. 

    I've heard of using zeolite  or a glycerin based mask for warming but not sur how effective these are
  • SibechSibech Member, Professional Chemist
    edited September 2019
    Other "Actives" from a natural source activating the TRPV1 Receptor (burning sensation from capsaicin) includes Ginger Extract/oleoresin (Gingerol, Zingerol), Pepper extract (Piperine) & Clove extract (Eugenol - allergen).
    If you want a heating sensation without "actives", then using an anhydrous polyol or PEG base would give a warming sensation (although you would have to work around the tackiness). For instance, glycerin's enthalpy change on dissolution is negative, so when the water from the skin (or added after) is dissolving the glycerin will release a small amount of heat.
    Zeolite, Magnesium Sulfate and Bentonite work the same way (heat of dissolution) when combined with water.
    Dabbling Formulator — Qualified Cosmetic Safety Assessor — experienced in claim substantiation & EU regulatory affairs.
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