Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is present in virtually all living cells. Pantothenic acid is crucial for metabolism, energy release, hormone secretion, fighting allergies, muscle and nerve maintenance, the synthesis of fat, proteins, and carbohydrates, and the creation of lipids, neurotransmitters and hemoglobin. It is also important for the health and appearance of the skin. The alcohol form of pantothenic acid, called panthenol, is used in many cosmetics products, from skin care lotions to shampoos. The Food and Drug Administration has deemed panthenol a safe and effective ingredient for softening and improving the appearance of skin. Panthenol has become a common ingredient of skin and hair care products because it provides a few important benefits.
Panthenol for Hair Care
Panthenol is a key player in the world of hair care products and treatments. It's also where the brand Pantene derived its name. It is believed to strengthen and repair the hair, making it popular in products that aim to treat chemically damaged hair. Panthenol coats and binds to the hair follicles, penetrating the hair. It causes the hair to appear shiny because of its reputed ability to "seal" the surface of the hair. Its moisturizing abilities make it useful in hair conditioning products, resulting in softer hair that's easy to comb.
Panthenol is a natural humectant, making it an effective hydrating ingredient in skincare lotions and creams. On the hair, panthenol stays in its pro-Vitamin form, but on the skin it is able to release vitamin B5 and transform into pantothenic acid. Applied topically, it penetrates into the lower skin layers and is easily absorbed by the skin cells. Its ability to be absorbed so deeply into the dermal layers of the skin gives it a starring role in moisturizers that promise deep essential moisture and a plumping effect that yields younger-looking skin. Its deep moisturizing ability also makes it useful in hydrating products that promise to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Treatment of Skin Irritation
Because of its humectant properties and its ability to be absorbed deeply into the skin, panthenol is used to treat skin irritation and minor skin disorders. A number of sprays, lotions and creams manufactured for the relief of sunburn, dryness or other skin irritations list panthenol as a main ingredient. The level of hydration panthenol provides as well as its anti-inflammatory benefits makes it effective in relieving the itchiness and discomfort of eczema, poison ivy and oak, and a number of skin rashes.
Panthenol is used in a number of products that treat burns, cuts, scrapes and minor wounds. This is because it contains antimicrobial properties that are crucial to controlling the growth and spread of bacteria. For this same reason, panthenol is used in acne treatments to counteract bacteria on the surface of the skin, and, when taken as a supplement, to prevent bacteria spread beneath the top layers of the skin.
Panthenol is an increasingly common ingredient of makeup products. It's used in some brands of mascara as a thickening and hydrating agent, to provide similar benefits to those it provides to the hair. Its attributes as a humectant and emollient make panthenol useful in foundations and concealers as well, as it allows a smoother application of these products, and can help create "illuminating" visual effects on the complexion.
The prestigious brand Kiehl's, based out of New York City and built on a reputation for effective dermatologist-tested skincare products, features panthenol as an ingredient in many of the company's moisturizers and anti-aging products.