Panthenol for Hair: Benefits and How to Use It

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If you suffer with dry hair or skin, you may already be familiar with panthenol. Found in many popular hydrating products on the market and noted as a key ingredient due to its long list of benefits, panthenol is an alcohol derivative of pantothenic acid, a component of the B complex vitamins. Generally beneficial for all hair, this non-problematic ingredient should be on your radar and we'll tell you why. This mega-moisturizer is expert-approved when it comes to skin, but how does it hold up in the hair category? We turned to the professionals to find out.

This mega-moisturizer is expert-approved when it comes to skin, but how does it hold up in the hair category? We turned to the professionals to find out.

Meet the Expert

  • Kerry Yates is a trichologist and the founder of Colour Collective.
  • Brendan Camp, MD, is a double board-certified dermatologist specializing in medical and cosmetic dermatology at MDCS Dermatology in New York City.

Ahead, experts help break down the benefits of panthenol for hair.

Fast Facts

Type of ingredient: Moisturizer

Main benefits: Natural humectant, helps balance moisture content in hair, improves suppleness, emollient, strengthening agent.

Who should use it: Dehydrated or low moisture hair can typically benefit the most. Generally, all hair can use panthenol.

How often can you use it: Generally, daily.

Works well with: Typically, other humectants, antioxidants, and nutrients.

Don't use with: In general, panthenol can be used with most ingredients.

Benefits of Panthenol for Hair

A natural humectant and emollient, experts agree that panthenol has multiple benefits for use in hair.

  • Retains moisture: "Panthenol is a desirable skincare and haircare ingredient because it acts as a humectant, drawing in moisture," says double-board certified dermatologist Brendan Camp, MD. "Panthenol draws moisture from the environment and skin to where it is needed most."
  • Smooths strands: "Panthenol acts as an emollient, smoothing cracks in rough skin and hair," explains Dr. Camp. "Panthenol is also good for rough textured hair because it can smooth out the imperfections in the hair shaft."
  • Acts as an anti-inflammatory: Dr. Camp notes that panthenol in the body is converted to vitamin B5, which has anti-inflammatory properties that aid in the reparative process of damaged hair.
  • Can help with thinning hair: In a study looking to treat thinning hair, panthenol showed as a promising ingredient to help contribute to help to mitigate the effects of thinning hair, and D-panthenol showed an increase in cell viability, supporting hair growth stimulating.
  • Balances: "[Panthenol] can also help balance hair's moisture content to improve condition and suppleness and is a brilliant emollient, which also helps to improve hair's suppleness."
  • Strengthens: Kerry Yates, a trichologist and the founder of Colour Collective, adds that panthenol is a strengthening agent that penetrates deep into the cortex.

Hair Type Considerations

The experts agree that panthenol generally works for most hair types, making it a great universal ingredient in hair care. Safe to use daily, it's often found in hair products across the board, including shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in product.

"Panthenol is great for all hair types, but be aware that most of the mass products in the market touting pathenol actually have the ingredient included at an emotive level," notes Yates. "To really see any positive benefits look for panthenol at a higher position on the INCI list. If you find ingredients like dimethicone, cyclomethicone, coclopentasiloxane, amodimethicone, PEG_12 dimethicone are positioned above panthenol, then put the product down and find an alternative. 

"I believe to have the best benefit Panthenol needs to be present at a minimum of 1% within the formula. Silicones for example give the hair an instant soft feeling but ultimately can negatively impact hair health long-term."

While panthenol can work for most hair types, Dr. Camp notes that a few specific hair conditions may see the most benefit. "Hair that is dehydrated or low in moisture can benefit from moisturizing properties of panthenol," says Dr. Camp. "As an emollient, panthenol is also good for rough textured hair because it can smooth out the imperfections in the hair shaft."

How to Use Panthenol for Hair

Panthenol is a low-risk ingredient that can be found in many products and may have many uses. "There are no restrictions on when panthenol can be used," Dr. Camp notes. "It is found in many products, which themselves may have specific recommendations on when to use them."

"What is important is to find a hair treatment that works well for you and treat yourself once a month at a minimum," Yates adds. "There are various DIY recipes for adding powdered panthenol to a cream, gel which can deliver some instant gratification. But like anything you need to create a habit of limiting heat exposure, aggressive pulling and friction to ensure beautiful tresses."

Yates also notes that panthenol works well in oil and water emulsions. "You will find it blended with other vitamins and conditioning emollients," she shares.

In terms of hair application, "Panthenol may be included as a part of a shampoo that is rinsed out, a hair mask that is left on for an extended time to maximize moisture retention, or a leave-in product," Dr. Camp says. "It is best to reference the product directions for use as there are so many ways to integrate it into a hair care regimen."

The Best Products With Panthenol

Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Super Moisture Shampoo
Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Super Moisture Shampoo $38.00
Briogeo Don't Despair Repair Super Moisture Conditioner
Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Super Moisture Conditioner $38.00

"This shampoo and conditioner combo serve the basic functions of cleaning and conditioning the hair, but level up the process by infusing panthenol and other key ingredients to hydrate and strengthen the hair," explains Dr. Camp.

Innersense Beauty Detox Hair Mask
Innersense Beauty Detox Hair Mask $30.00

"[I'm a] big fan of Innersense Beauty," says Yates. "They recently introduced a detox mask that is brilliant for a monthly scalp and hair refresh. The only detox product that does not leave your hair feeling dry and brittle."

Oribe Signature Moisture Masque
Oribe Signature Moisture Masque $63.00

"This hair masque contains panthenol to provide rich moisture, as well as other keratin and wild mango butter to strengthen and soften the hair," says Dr. Camp.

Oribe Invisible Defense Universal Protection Spray
Oribe Invisible Defense Universal Protection Spray $22.00

"This protection spray includes a combination of B vitamins and other ingredients to shield the hair from heat, frizz, and other environmental pollutants," says Dr. Camp.

  • Does panthenol dry out hair?

    Panthenol is a humectant, drawing moisture in, and experts say it helps nourish and moisturize hair and skin, not dry it out.

  • Is panthenol good for your scalp?

    Typically, yes. Panthenol hydrates the skin and has multiple benefits including improving moisture retention.

  • What ingredients are comparable to panthenol?

    Fellow humectants can be comparable, such as hyaluronic acid, collagen, and glycerin.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Summary for CID 4678, Panthenol. 2022.

  2. Davis MG, Thomas JH, van de Velde S, et al. A novel cosmetic approach to treat thinning hair. Br J Dermatol. 2011;165 Suppl 3:24-30. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2011.10633.x

  3. Shin JY, Kim J, Choi YH, Kang NG, Lee S. Dexpanthenol Promotes Cell Growth by Preventing Cell Senescence and Apoptosis in Cultured Human Hair Follicle Cells. Curr Issues Mol Biol. 2021;43(3):1361-1373. Published 2021 Sep 28. doi:10.3390/cimb43030097

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