I never knew what panthenol in skincare means or what it does before working in beauty. It sounded more like a preservative or something unfriendly, but is panthenol bad for skin? Upfront, no. Actually, panthenol is one of the best humectants that works by pulling water from the environment directly to your skin layers, increasing hydration and plumping. Ok, it does way more than that, but let’s start with the beginning.
What is panthenol?
Panthenol is a compound made from pantothenic acid, an essential nutrient found in every living cell that the body needs. Once applied to the skin, panthenol converts into vitamin B5, playing multiple roles. Vitamin B5 in skincare can bind and hold water effectively, increasing moisture in the skin and keeping it soft, elastic, and firm. The special thing about panthenol is that it acts as a humectant and emollient at the same time. While humectants attract and bind water to the tissue, emollients soften and seal the cracks, preventing water evaporation.
Panthenol in skincare can be found in concentrations from 1 to 5%. A study that ran for 30 days evaluated the effects on transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and moisture after washing the skin with SLSs (foaming drying detergent) with panthenol formulations from 1% to 5%. The results astounded us! Just 1% panthenol reduced TEWL, increased skin hydration, and maintained skin integrity.
Panthenol’s benefits for skin
Panthenol’s benefits for skin include hydration and moisture increase, and due to its calming and gentle profile, it aids in easing inflammations and reducing redness too. Here’s how panthenol can improve your skin:
Deeply hydrates: As a water-soluble humectant, panthenol penetrates the skin, pulling up from the environment, quenching the tissue, and increasing moisture retention.
Hinders TEWL: By boosting moisture, panthenol reinforces the protective barrier, which helps prevent water evaporation.
Speeds up wound healing: Since panthenol strengthens the barrier, it has a key role in encouraging wound healing, especially if applied as soon as the damage has been done. Also, panthenol has a role in encouraging keratinocytes — which make up 90% of epidermal cells — proliferation.
Calms and relieves inflammation: Panthenol is listed as an anti-inflammatory agent, great for easing redness caused by UV exposure, calming inflamed pimples, and reducing itchiness.
Panthenol can have different names on your skincare product label. Look for provitamin B5, butanamide, and d-pantothenyl alcohol.
Panthenol side effects
As a mild, calming ingredient, panthenol is tolerated by all skin types, sensitive ones included. Still, it’s always good to do a patch test when you add a new product into your routine.
How to use it
As a versatile compound, panthenol can be paired with most skincare actives, including the less mild ones, such as retinol, AHAs, and BHAs. You’ll find panthenol in various products, so it should always be applied as advised by the product at hand.
Best panthenol products:
- The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, view on The Ordinary
- Cosrx B5 D-Panthenol Ampoule, view on Amazon
- Purito B5 Panthenol Re-barrier Cream, view on Amazon
- Medik8 Hydr8 B, view on Dermstore
- Allies Of Skin Molecular Barrier Recovery Cream Balm, view on Allies of Skin
- National Library of Medicine National Center for Biotechnology Information, Panthenol
- Camargo FB Jr, Gaspar LR, Maia Campos PM. Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations. J Cosmet Sci. 2011 Jul-Aug;62(4):361-70. PMID: 21982351.
- Gorski, Julian et al. “Dexpanthenol in Wound Healing after Medical and Cosmetic Interventions (Postprocedure Wound Healing).” Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 13,7 138. 29 Jun. 2020, doi:10.3390/ph13070138
- Daisaku Kobayashi, Miho Kusama, Masaaki Onda, Norimichi Nakahata, The Effect of Pantothenic Acid Deficiency on Keratinocyte Proliferation and the Synthesis of Keratinocyte Growth Factor and Collagen in Fibroblasts, Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, Volume 115, Issue 2, 2011, Pages 230-234, ISSN 1347-8613, https://doi.org/10.1254/jphs.10224SC.