🙌What is Panthenol, Why is it in Cosmetics, and is it Safe?

Jun. 11, 2020
Just learned about Panthenol? It’s common to wonder what Panthenol is, why it’s used in so many household products, and finally, if it’s safe. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Panthenol.   
If you’ve only just heard about Panthenol, you may be surprised to hear that it’s likely already everywhere in your home. How? Panthenol is commonly used not only in cosmetics, but in food, hygiene products, and supplements. Once you learn about Panthenol, it’s common to wonder why it’s so prevalent and if it’s actually safe for you and your family. 
In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about Panthenol, so you know whether you need to be worried. 
What is Panthenol?
So what actually is Panthenol? Panthenol is a chemical substance made from pantothenic acid (known as vitamin B-5 when absorbed by the body). When you understand that it is actually a vitamin, it sounds a lot less scary. Panthenol is actually produced by organic sources (plant and animal) and has a range of uses we’ll cover shortly. In it’s purest form, it is a transparent oil or white powder. 
Does Panthanol have other names I should look out for?
You will most likely find the ingredient panthenol listed on several labels currently in your bathroom. Besides the name Panthenol, it is also commonly referred to as dexpanthenol, butanamide, alcohol analog of pantothenic acid, D-pantothenyl alcohol and, as mentioned before, provitamin B-5. 
What is Panthenol Used For?
So what is Panthenol used for, and why is Panthenol used in cosmetics? 
As an Ingredient in Hair Care Products
Panthenol is often found in hair care products because it locks in moisture, keeping it shiny and soft, yet strong. One study even found that the use of a leave‐on conditioner containing a combination of caffeine, niacinamide, Panthenol, dimethicone and an acrylate polymer may help to mitigate the effects of thinning hair. 
It is also effective in making hair appear shiny, as Panthenol molecules stick to our hair and reflect light, helping it look far shinier than it would otherwise. In fact, Panthenol was the key ingredient used in the hair care brand Pantene and helped their customers get the same, shiny, smooth hair as the women in their adverts. 
A few years ago, there was some concern about Panthenol creating a waxy build-up on hair that requires multiple washes to dislodge, but this has never been proven. In fact, Panthenol is extremely water and alcohol soluble, which makes it really easy to wash out of your hair.
As an Ingredient in Skin Care Products 
In topical cosmetics like face creams, Panthenol is often used as a moisturizing agent. It is also included in many cosmetics as a softening, soothing, and anti-irritant agent. Because of its properties as an emulsifier, when Panthenol is used in skin lotions or creams, it helps them spread over the skin evenly, for complete coverage (the same goes for hair, from root to end!). 
As an Ingredient in Nail Care Products   
Because Panthenol is a humectant, it attracts moisture to the nail bed, which ensures a balance of keratin (which is hard) and moisture (which is a softener) in your nail bed. Nails need both moisture and protein to sustain growth, just like hair does (your hair and nails are actually made from the same stuff!). Panthenol quickly penetrates the nail bed and can make nails more flexible and less rigid.  
As an Ingredient in Hair, Nail, and Skin Care Supplements 
Panthenol is also used in hair, skin, and nail supplements, as well as some food products. The intention for much of this is to provide the same benefits as it provides when applied topically, but the jury is still out as to whether or not this is actually effective. 
Is Panthenol Safe?
It is difficult to unequivocally prove that any chemical is 100% without an extensive amount of testing and research. Having said that, the research that has been done has said that using a concentration of 5% or lower in a topical skin, hair, or nail product will present a very low risk to consumers. 
When it comes to using Panthenol in food or as an additive, there is a notable gap in data around the level of toxicity, so it’s best to stick to using it in cosmetics products for now. 
Panthenol has been officially deemed safe for cosmetic use by the European Commission on Cosmetic Ingredients and the FDA. However, the waters become murky when we look at ingesting it – the NIH (National Institutes of Health) has classified Panthenol as “possibly safe” in creams, salves, and nasal sprays. Panthenol is listed as “likely safe” for topical use by children, and no one has ever experienced negative side effects from using Panthenol topically, likely due to its organic origins.  
Panthenol can be found in a huge amount of products, from sunscreen and beard oil to toothpaste and deodorant. It contains properties that strengthen nails, gives hair a healthy, shiny luster, and can help the skin to build up a barrier against irritation and water loss. 
In fact, Panthenol is so effective at moisturizing and healing skin that tattoo artists often suggest Panthenol as a moisturizing agent for new tattoos. It’s widely seen as a safe chemical to use on skin, hair and nails, and numerous studies have shown the benefits of products containing Panthenol when it comes to maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails. 
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