What is panthenol?

Updated April 17, 2017

Panthenol is a natural, hydrating form of vitamin B used in numerous products of the beauty industry. It is a nontoxic provitamin with remarkable absorption properties rendering it an excellent moisturiser and emollient. Panthenol has been used as an ingredient in hair care products, skin care products, for medicinal uses and as an alternative treatment for blemishes and acne. Its safety has been measured and is reported to be completely safe when applied externally.


Panthenol is a derivative of vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid is a natural substance of all living cells and tissues and is necessary for the proper function of metabolism and the body's manufacturing of hormones. Although it is a derivative of vitamin B5, panthenol is considered a provitamin of pantothenic acid and alcohol. Both panthenol and pantothenic acid are used in beauty care products such as skin care, hair care and cosmetics. Panthenol may also be used to treat minor skin injuries, skin allergies and insect bites.

Skin Care

Panthenol is a common ingredient in skin care products primarily because it is a potent moisturiser and emollient for the surface of the skin. Secondly, panthenol passed all FDA tests in regards to its safety (see References 1), making it well-tolerated and great for people with sensitive skin. Panthenol easily penetrates the skin, resulting in softer skin and an increase in the skin's elasticity, is non-greasy and suitable for all skin types.

Hair Care

Panthenol and pantothenic acid are used in most hair care products such as shampoo, conditioner, gels, hairsprays and special moisture applications. The same properties of panthenol that make it excellent for skin care can be attributed to its popularity in hair care products. Panthenol's ability to penetrate render it an excellent ingredient for improving damaged hair, reducing split ends and adding an abundance of shine and texture to hair. Panthenol is also used to improve the texture of damaged hair both physically and chemically.


Panthenol is an odourless substance that is soluble in water and alcohol yet insoluble in oil, making it a perfect ingredient to include in cosmetics. Other qualities of panthenol such as its penetration ability and anti-inflammatory and healing properties make it desirable for use in facial products. Additionally, the CIR Safety Review Expert Panel used experiments with panthenol and ultraviolet light and determined that panthenol and pantothenic acid were photo-irritant-free and photosensitive-free, a common concern for some individuals who wear make-up (see Resources 2).

Medicinal Uses

Panthenol comes in a spray form and can be used to treat minor cuts, burns, scrapes and sunburn. Panthenol works to promote epithelialization, which is the skin's ability to regrow over a wound, which is useful in hard-to-heal wounds and surgical skin grafts. It has also been effectively used as an anti-inflammatory for minor skin allergies, insect bites, scrapes, burns and sunburn. Due to panthenol's ability to counteract bacteria, it has also been used as an alternative treatment for acne and skin blemishes.

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About the Author

Patricia Hill is a freelance writer who contributes to several websites and organizations, including various private sectors. She also contributes to the online magazine, Empowered by a need to reveal that unhealthy food and diet is a source of health-related issues, Hill is currently working on a cookbook and website for individuals with Crohn's disease.