You don’t hear a lot about it, but it’s one of the most ubiquitous of the all the vitamins. It’s called pantothenic acid, a named derived from the Greek word “pantheon”, meaning “found in all quarters”. Indeed, the nutrient, also known as Vitamin B5, is an essential constituent of every one of the 100 trillion cells in the body.
B5’s main role is to help the body process and utilize lipids; it facilitates fat burning inside cells. It’ can be a helpful supplement to speed healing, especially of the skin and the digestive tract. Its also a player in the production of anti-aging steroid hormones associated with growth, repair and fertility But, pantothenic acid is not only valuable as an internal nutrient. When it’s topically applied it can have some interesting and helpful cosmetic effects too.
One of the most important benefits of pantothenic acid, in its topical form, is its effect on acne. Its fat processing properties help the skin slow down excessive secretion of oils, reducing shine and helping eliminate facial and back acne. Pantothenic acid used directly on the skin has anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant properties too. It can prevent he formation of scars and speed the healing of broken and wounded skin. It has also been effectively used to treat burns and surgical wounds. The first beneficiaries of the power of panthenol were soldiers. In the 1940's Swiss Medical researchers seeking new treatments for burn victims during World War Two, came up with the idea of using the vitamin topically. In short order, the drug company Hoffman Laroche, best known for their invention of Valium, came up with the idea of using it to beautify the hair. In 1947 they started to manufacture a shampoo featuring the vitamin. They called it “Pantene”. It became one of the most successful and iconic hair care brands ever and is still one of the bestselling shampoos in the world.
If you want to take advantage of the power of panthenol for preventing hair breakage, improving shine and radiance or if you want to use the vitamin to improve skin health, you don’t need to spend money on fancy products. It’s easy to go the “do-it-yourself” route as pure panthenol, the cosmetic form of Vitamin B5, is inexpensive and readily available on the internet. It comes as a viscous liquid that can be directly added to shampoos or skin creams and lotions. But you are going to have to make sure you use a healthy dose. According to information published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, it takes 1.0% panthenol to have an effect on skin integrity. In my experience I’ve had to use even more.
If you find the liquid form too difficult to work with (and it is quite sticky), powdered panthenol is also available. You can dissolve two teaspoonfuls to a cup of water to make a 4.0% solution. Store it in the fridge and add as desired to your favorite hair and skin care products making your own home-made panthenol rich beauty products.