Sometimes you take a look at the list of ingredients in your skin care and hair products and wonder just what is that? Is that a real word? What does it mean? Is it a foreign language?
Panthenol, also known as pantothenol, sounds like the name of a galaxy. But you’ll see it listed on countless products from skin care and hair care to pharmaceuticals. You probably use it more often than you think, and it’s one of the most versatile ingredients out there for your skin.
What Is Panthenol
Panthenol, or Provitamin B5, is a biologically active alcohol that is processed by the body through oxidation into pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). Pantothenic acid, a component of coenzyme A (CoA), is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that was identified in 1933 and first synthesized in 1940. The name came from the Greek word “panthos” meaning “from everywhere” because of its widespread presence in food.
Found in all living cells, both plant and animal, panthenol is a normal component of skin and hair. It’s essential for normal metabolism and hormone production. In cosmetics and personal care products, two forms of panthenol can be found: D-Panthenol occurs as an oil and DL-Panthenol occurs as a creamy white, crystalline powder.
When applied topically, panthenol converts to pantothenic acid and holo-fatty acid synthase, which is essential to normal epithelial function. This makes it the perfect ingredient for skin care. It’s used mostly as a humectant (a substance that helps to retain moisture), and is used to moisturize hair and skin and keep them from becoming dehydrated. Its molecular structure allows it to attract moisture from the atmosphere and bind to water molecules.
How Does Panthenol Work?
When used in hair products and cosmetics, Panthenol binds to hair follicles to coat and seal in moisture in the hair and to lubricate the follicles. Skin might become softer and smoother. Aside from improving hydration, it’s been shown to reduce itching and inflammation and to accelerate healing in epidermal wounds.
Panthenol is commonly added to many personal care products to help keep them more stable. It is an emulsifier, which helps incompatible chemicals to stay evenly mixed in things like creams and serums
What About Panthenol in Skin Care Products?
Clinical studies show that panthenol-based formulations increase skin moisture content and had a significant effect on skin barrier function by decreasing transepidermal water loss (TEWL). In addition, concentrations of the provitamin also influenced the improvement of skin barrier function. It’s able to penetrate into the deeper skin layers and is absorbed into the cells before being metabolized into pantothenic acid. This ability to penetrate deeply is useful in adding essential moisture, helping to maintain skin’s natural moisture balance.
Loss of water may adversely impact skin appearance and lead to skin disorders, so this provitamin is added to cosmetics to maintain physiological skin conditions and to prevent dry skin issues. Using products that incorporate it will help to keep your skin smooth by maintaining that natural moisture balance. Panthenol acts as a lubricant on the skin surface, giving it a soft, smooth appearance.
It has also been shown to counteract surface bacteria and reduce inflammation. This, coupled with its absorption properties means it is considered to be a viable acne treatment.
This all means that panthenol lends itself to treating skin irritations such as mild burns, sunburns, insect bites, superficial wounds, fissures, corneal lesions, and allergic dermatitis. It’s well-tolerated with minimal risks of skin irritancy and has been shown to have protective effects against skin irritation.
Can You Eat Panthenol?
Eating a balanced diet will ensure that you are receiving adequate amounts of vitamin B5. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is 5mg/d of pantothenic acid for males and females 14 years old and over, but a 1981 study estimated that the average American diet only contains about 5.8 mg/d of pantothenic acid.
Foods that are considered to be exceptionally good dietary sources of pantothenic acid include peanut butter, liver, kidney beans, peanuts, almonds, wheat bran, cheese, and lobster. The vast majority of vitamin B5 in foods is found already incorporated into CoA and as phosphopantetheine. Refining, freezing, canning, and cooking food causes losses of pantothenic acid, so a modern processed food diet would be expected to have lower amounts of vitamin B5 than a whole foods diet.
Is Panthenol Safe?
Panthenol is safe for use according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Its safety has also been evaluated by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel and has been deemed safe for use in cosmetics and personal care products.
Panthenol can be found in the following premium MDSUN Skin Care products: