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Panthenol Is the Hydrating Skincare Ingredient Everyone Should Put on Their Radar


With all the skincare ingredients in existence, we tend to give the common hydrating ones a little extra love. Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, polyglutamic acid—they’re all our favorite hydrating heroes. But there’s another hydrating ingredient you’ve likely been introduced to but have ignored on your skincare ingredient list, as it isn’t as widely discussed as the others. Meet panthenol.

Have you seen it before? We’re seriously betting that you have. It’s an unsung hydrating ingredient derived from vitamin B5. Let us tell you all about this amazing humectant and why you need to be looking out for panthenol, the pantothenic acid in your skincare products for a good reason.

About the Expert:

Caren Campbell, MD, is a San Francisco and Napa based board-certified dermatologist. 

What Is Panthenol?

Simply put, panthenol is a derivative of vitamin B5 and helps combat water loss from your skin barrier by acting as a humectant, helping your skin retain moisture from your skincare routine and from the air. However, what makes panthenol so special is it also has emollient benefits. This means, as it binds water to the skin thanks to its humectant traits it also helps seal that moisture in. It’s almost like weatherproofing your skin; keeping the good stuff in and bad stuff out.

“Panthenol is a vitamin that helps with the skin's barrier by serving as a humectant that helps moisturize the skin. It helps to produce more lipid building blocks for your skin barrier,” says dermatologist Caren Campbell, MD.

Given panthenol is a humectant and moisturizing ingredient, you’ll likely find it in hydrating cleansers, serums, and lotions. You might even find it in hydrating masks, serum, and toners. Anything claiming to be a hydrating superhero for your skin is worth checking to see if it contains panthenol.

A close of photo of a model's skin with bright and glowy skin on a pink background

What Are the Skin Benefits of Panthenol? 

Hydrates Skin

Given panthenol is a humectant and an emollient ingredient, it does a great job at preventing transepidermal water loss. If you have dry skin or you struggle with flaky patches or even eczema, using a product with panthenol may be helpful.

Repairs and Supports Skin Barrier Functions

Everyone loves ceramides for protecting those protein blocks that make up our skin barrier. You’ll find ceramides in a lot of body lotions meant to heal eczema. Panthenol works very similarly to repair any weakness or compromise in your skin barrier. “Panthenol improves the skin barrier, which helps keep moisturize in the skin and keeps outside environmental irritants and allergens from causing irritation and dryness,” adds Dr. Campbell.

Heals Dryness and Irritation

Do you have sensitive skin? If you’re prone to skin irritation or have skin conditions like rosacea, eczema or psoriasis you have a sensitized skin barrier. Many turn to thick and nourishing lotions or ointments to help seal in hydration and vital ingredients to repair the compromised barrier. Given the nature of panthenol and how it is an emollient, it does wonders in healing dryness and any irritation and redness.

Are There Any Skin Side-Effects to Panthenol? 

Luckily, there are no side effects to using panthenol. Actually, it’s often used for wound healing and can be found in a lot of post-sun products to soothe burned skin. It’s safe for use and provides excellent skin hydration. “There are no major side effects to worry about as it is pregnancy and breastfeeding safe with little to no allergy potential,” says Dr. Campbell. 

How to Use Panthenol for Your Skin?

You can likely find panthenol is any hydrating beauty product. As the ingredient grows in popularity, you’ll see it touted on packaging as well. “It's often used as a moisturizing ingredient in lotions, creams, ointments, and serums. It's also used in hair care products as it binds to the hair shaft and increases the shininess of hair,” explains Dr. Campbell.

We love to use a facial cleanser containing panthenol to get our skincare routine off on the right foot. Additionally, looking for a post-pimple treatment (popping happens!) that has panthenol can soothe and speed up wound healing with its anti-inflammatory properties.

Best Skincare Products With Panthenol

1. Best Panthenol Product for Healing Pimples:

GOOD LIGHT New Moon Balm

GOOD LIGHT New Moon Balm
Courtesy of GOOD LIGHT

Ever popped a pimple and what was left behind was an angry open wound? We’ve all been there. Luckily there’s a quick fix that will be a moment of calm and restoration to your skin. This post-acne balm from good light is the perfect solution. It contains hydrating and healing ingredients including panthenol, vitamin e, allantoin and hyaluronic acid.

2. Best Overnight Panthenol-Infused Treatment:

AVANT Skincare 8 hour Radiance Renewal Sleeping Mask

AVANT Skincare 8 hour Radiance Renewal Sleeping Mask

Looking for an intensive overnight treatment to hit reset on your skin? Look no further than this 8 hour radiance mask from Avant Skincare. It features shea butter, vitamin a, e and panthenol to keep skin soft and supple while targeting the appearance of fine lines.

3. Best Panthenol Product for Eczema:

LA ROCHE POSAY Cicaplast Balm B5 for Dry Skin Irritations

LA ROCHE POSAY Cicaplast Balm B5 for Dry Skin Irritations
Courtesy of LA ROCHE POSAY

You can find this in just about every drugstore skincare aisle. It’s one of La Roche Posay’s top sellers and it can clear up any skin irritation you might be facing. It’s recommended for rough, cracked skin and works well with sensitive skin types. It’s even suitable for babies to help diaper rash and other skin irritations. 

4. Best Panthenol-Infused Cleanser to Reduce Redness:

PEACH SLICES Redness Relief Soothing Cleanser

PEACH SLICES Redness Relief Soothing
Courtesy of PEACH & LILY

Soothe stressed skin from the start by using this cleanser as the first step in your routine. It features a blend of panthenol, green algae, allantoin and rhodomyrtus extract to reduce redness and calm inflammation. 

5. Best Multipurpose Panthenol Product:

CERAVE Healing Ointment

CERAVE Healing Ointment
Courtesy of CERAVE

A slugging staple! We love to use this over our moisturizer for our nighttime routine to insure deep hydration while we get our beauty sleep. But, this product is extremely versatile and comes in handy when recovering from retinol or sun sensitivity.

“Some evidence suggests panthenol helps with wound healing, I love this product for very dry skin or as a post procedure emollient,” says Dr. Campbell. Everyone should have one of these tubes in their medicine cabinet!

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About the author
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia is a freelance beauty writer. With experience in influencer marketing at Tata Harper Skincare and editorial at Very Good Light, she loves covering Gen Z beauty, wellness, and nail trends. Read her work on Very Good Light and Well + Good.
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Article Last Updated July 4, 2023 12:00 AM