This is the first of blog series we’ll do breaking down the ingredient stacks of some of the biggest players in the pain relief topical space: Icy Hot, Biofreeze & Bengay. Today’s look is at the 800lb gorilla in the room: Icy Hot ingredients. If you’re looking to compare products like BioFreeze vs Icy Hot, hit that link!
Ingredient Background Info
The FDA requires ingredients to be listed by predominance. That means the first ingredients in each list the most prominent, and the last ingredients are the least. Also something to keep in mind is wording. The FDA does not allow terms like “pain relieving” unless the ingredient/product is approved by them as a drug. If you’ve read anywhere about essential oils and other awesome things found in nature and not made in labs, you may have noticed wording like “may relieve pain” or “may reduce inflammation”.
Extra bonus: check out Shaq’s OG Icy Hot commercial for a good time.
Let’s dive in!
Icy Hot Ingredients
Licodain, aluminum glycinate, aluminum hyrdroxide, cellulose gum, methylparaben, sodium polyacrylate, Menthol, Methyl salicylate,ceresin, cyclomethicone, hydrogenated castor oil, microcrystalline wax, paraffin, PEG-150 distearate, propylene glycol, stearic acid, stearyl alcohol
Licodain – Licodain is used to block nerve signals going to your brain, numbing the area you apply it to. Side affects can include swelling, redness, purple dots constipation, nausea, and vomiting.
Aluminum Glycinate – Referred to by it’s friends as C2-H6-Al-N-O4, aluminum glycinate is commonly used as an antacid to treat for heartburn and indigestion. Also it’s metal.
Aluminum Hyrdroxide – More heartburn relief for your aching back. Also used to reduce phosphate levels in people with kidney conditions.
Cellulose Gum – A thickening agent often also used in food.
Methylparaben – A paraben often used to increase shelf life and prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. Especially useful when your product will spend months and years of its life in sitting warehouses and on the back of the shelf at Walmart.
Sodium Polyacrylate – You know the stuff in diapers that absorbs all the pee? That’s this stuff. Hell yeah, rub it on me. As a bonus it’s also highly toxic when inhaled or ingested.
Menthol – An organic compound made synthetically that produces the cooling sensation.
Methyl salicylate – Used for pain relief and as a flavoring agent in chewing gum.
Ceresin – An alternative to beeswax that is derived from ozokerite, which is commonly known as earthwax. So like dirt, but wax. Dirtwax.
Cyclomethicone – Derived from silicon, it’s often used in skin care products for its conditioning properties for both hair and skin.
Hydrogenated castor oil – Oil made from beans that is good for your skin.
Microcrystalline wax – Derived from petroleum, also used for ski and snowboard waxes.
Paraffin – See above except it’s flammable too.
PEG-150 distearate – Considered a controversial ingredient because of its ability to penetrate skin. The Environmental Working Group considers PEG-150 a hazardous ingredient, but its high molecular weight makes it one of the less dangerous PEGs so its all good. A study by the International Journal of Toxicology found it to contain impurities including Ethylene Oxide, which has been known to increase incidents of cancer.
Propylene glycol – According to the FDA, propylene glycol is generally recognized as safe and is used as a solvent in paints and plastics, as well as for artificial fog and smoke.
Stearic acid and stearyl alcohol – Considered benign, stearic acid is used in a lot of stuff to create a smooth texture and finish. Stearyl alcohol is derived from it.
Summary of Icy Hot’s Ingredients
Consider Icy Hot if you are also suffering from heartburn and indigestion and just generally like putting weird stuff like the guts of a baby diaper on your skin. Icy Hot ingredients certainly keep it interesting, but it’s nothing I’d put on my skin.