Nourishing hair with panthenol?

I am a huge proponent of eating vitamins rather than applying them to your hair. I may however stand slightly corrected on panthenol. This post comes courtesy of India who emailed to ask, ' I would like to know the benefits of panthenol for the hair because I see this ingredient in many hair care products.'

Well the research on panthenol is not entirely clear. The hair bible - (Chemical and Physical Behaviour of Human Hair by Clarence Robbins) refers to panthenol as a hype ingredient.

Panthenol is converted to pantothenic acid (B vitamin) on hair. Consuming vitamin B is thought to help with growth however when applied externally to hair there is no conclusive evidence to show that it acts in this way.

There is however evidence that hair could possibly absorb pantothenic acid and this action could help to mend damaged hair. (Hair and Hair Care by Dale H Johnson quoting a paper by Driscoll pg 82). I tried to find more information on what 'mend damaged hair' meant but unfortunately the paper by Driscoll does not seem to be available digitally.

The same book (Dale Johnson) also says that pantothenic acid can be absorbed into the cortex of the hair and help to repair damage from perming and colouring. I therefore think that 'mend damaged hair' probably means pantothenic acid may be able to patch up areas of protein damage. I am not however convinced that this would be permanent nor do I think it would be better than hydrolysed protein.


  1. Love it! I was just reading up on panthenol! From what I also hear about it's a vital nutrient that is circulated throughout the skin to maintain a proper moisture balance on a cellular level. like instant moisture. It's cling to the hair 'ionically', without coating or weighing hair down and keeps hair healthy, shiny and hydrated.

    Vitamin B-5 also has the unique ability to take in moisture from the atmosphere, literally absorbing whenever it needs it and works on the scalp to attract moisturize and rehydrate the hair follicle, helping promote healthy new hair growth.

    So would this would technically be a humectant like glycerin and honeyquat?

    1. According to the chemist behind Swiftcraftymonkey, it *behaves* as a humectant, and it is also readily absorbed thru the skin (scalp), also serves as a penetration enhancer. There's really nothing wishy washy about it at all.

  2. Jc, I'm so grateful for you and your blog. ERRYDAY I learn something new! :) Thank you, from all of your readers.

  3. Thanks Dani :)

    Nadiya you sound like a panthenol proponent lol. I can tell you that the science is inconclusive. Some say it adds substantivity but others say it doesn't. Is it a humectant? I have not seen any research that says it is. So the evidence on external application of panthenol is wishy washy but getting enough in your diet is probably good.

  4. Awesome Jc! I used to work in an OBGYN office and women were always crushing up prenatal vitamins and mixing them with their hair conditioner...maybe they weren't so crazy! This may seem super redundant, but does panthenol need to be in the top 5 ingredients to be effective? I always see it pretty far down the list (#8 or lower). Why wouldn't there be products with it in the top 5 if it is (possibly) absorbable?

  5. @LittleOne - The efficacy of it is disputed this is why its use is not common place compared to ingredients with known effects like glycerin or surfactants like behentrimonium. The concentration quoted in one of the references above was 5% so it may not make the top 5 but should be pretty close.

  6. Good to know - thank you!

  7. After yrs and expensive salon trips which were great looking until I washed my hair then the color dropped out and it looked dry and broken all for a waste of money I have taken matters in my own hands, I started researching the ingrediants on hair products and hv come to panethol as being what my hair needed or wz missing. It hs changed my hairs condition and ability to style. Much on line research and buying some infusion from wall art has finally solved my needs to give what my hair wz lacking why is this such a hidden secrete?


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