Panthenol is the alcohol form of pantothenic acid, a derivative of vitamin B5. Also called provitamin B5, it is involved in a number of important roles in the body, including metabolism, protein synthesis, and hormone secretion. Absorbed into the body from dietary sources including meat, dairy, and whole grains, the alcohol is also considered to be highly beneficial to the hair and skin. As a result, it is a very common ingredient in hair, skin, and makeup products.
Due to its beneficial properties, panthenol is included in a number of hair products, including shampoos and conditioners. Applied to hair, the vitamin is thought to both coat and penetrate the shaft. The coating on the surface of the hair makes the strands appear thicker, providing hair with increased fullness and volume. It strengthens hair, making the strands less prone to breakage and split ends.
The cuticles of the hair are sealed and become smoother, making hair appear shinier and also making it more manageable and less prone to tangles. Panthenol is especially good for dry, chemically damaged hair because it functions as a humectant, drawing moisture in. The coating action of the vitamin also seals in the moisture, helping to keep hair more hydrated. This subsequently helps to protect hair from heat damage caused by blow-drying and styling tools.
Panthenol is also a popular ingredient in skin creams, especially those intended for antiaging. The ability of the vitamin to draw moisture into the skin is considered to have a number of benefits, especially because it can significantly penetrate the skin's surface. Benefits include a plumping of the skin that helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and makes skin feel smoother, firmer, and more supple. It is also thought to encourage the generation of new skin cells.
Transforming into pantothenic acid as it is absorbed into the skin, pathenol helps to minimize the damage caused by free radicals by exfoliating damaged cells. The vitamin is also beneficial to irritated and acne-prone skin, moisturizing while leaving pores clean and clear. It also relieves the itching associated with skin conditions such as eczema. Forming a barrier on the skin's surface, panthenol also helps to protect against environmental damage.
Due in large part to its beneficial effects on the skin, panthenol is also used in a number of cosmetics. The vitamin is commonly included in mascara formulas because it coats the lashes, keeping them moisturized and making them appear thicker. It is also a popular ingredient in foundation, concealers, and lipsticks due to its ability to both absorb well and form a barrier on the skin's surface, creating a smooth application and keeping skin hydrated at the same time.