Counter-irritants are used to induce local inflammation for the purpose of relieving inflammation in deeper or adjacent tissues. In other words, they substitute one kind of inflammation for another, which is never good for skin. Irritation or inflammation, no matter what causes it or how it happens, impairs the skin’s immune and healing response. 
Ingredients such as menthol, peppermint, black pepper, camphor, and mint are counter-irritants. 
Although your skin may not show it or may not react in an irritated fashion, if you apply irritants to your skin the damage is still taking place and is ongoing, so its effects add up over time. 
- Zuang V, Rona C, Archer G, Berardesca E. Detection of Skin Irritation Potential of Cosmetics by Non-Invasive Measurements. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol.. 2000.;13:358-371.
- Yosipovitch G, Szolar C, Hui X, Maibach H. Effect of topically applied menthol on thermal, pain and itch sensations and biophysical properties of the skin. Arch Dermatol Res.. 1996;288(5-6):245-8.
- Perkins M, Osterhues M, Farage M, Robinson M. A noninvasive method to assess skin irritation and compromised skin conditions using simple tape adsorption of molecular markers of inflammation. Skin Res Technol. 2001;7(4):224-37.