If you read the label on most any skin or hair care package, you’ll find panthenol listed there. The powerful ingredient is celebrated for moisturizing, thickening and boosting hair’s body quotient. What’s more, panthenol is so famous that Proctor & Gamble even built an entire line of products around it: Pantene Pro-V. But that hasn’t stopped this key ingredient from getting a bad rap for being a lab-based ingredient that can harm curly hair. What’s the truth? Here’s what CurlyNikki.com had to say about this popular pro-vitamin.
Panthenol’s Basic Chemistry
Panthenol is derived from vitamin B-5 and is what’s called a chiral molecule. This means that the molecular structure contains two different sides that are mirror images of each other instead of exact duplicates (kind of like your left and right hands). Panthenol’s two sides have different chemical and biological properties that are either magnified or minimized depending on the type of panthenol-containing product chemists plan to make.
Panthenol is mostly used as a humectant, a substance that helps retain moisture, and is primarily used in skin and hair products. Panthenol’s molecular structure allows it to attract moisture from the atmosphere and bind to water molecules. The result? Panthenol helps moisturize hair and skin and stops both from getting dehydrated. In addition, because panthenol also spreads evenly on the surface of the hair strand, it forms a smooth film over hair cuticles that enhances light reflection and makes tresses look shinier and glossier. What’s more, the smooth film also gives hair strands “slip” to discourage nasty knots or tangles. (One big drawback, though, is ingredients that penetrate the hair shaft can sometimes make strands swell and frizz.)
You may have heard that panthenol creates a waxy buildup on hair that requires multiple washes to dislodge. But no evidence supports this hearsay. Panthenol doesn’t have the same structure as waxy materials and doesn’t have a structure that would make it bind to hair strands. Also, it’s extremely water and alcohol soluble, which makes it super easy to wash out.
Go ahead and stock up! Panthenol is a natural material with plenty of benefits for your hair.
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