Hi, I would like to know if Vitamin B5 (Panthenoic acid/Panthenol) plays a role in the hair conditioning (any theories behind) ? If so, how significant is it or is it the active ingredient?
The Right Brain Bashes B5 A Bit:
As our regular readers know, vitamins in hair care products do not really provide much of a benefit. They’re used to catch consumers’ attention and to support the story behind the product. Panthenol can be considered the king of all hair care vitamins because that’s where Pantene, one of the leading hair care brands in the world, gets its name.
In reality, Panthenol is a provitamin, not a vitamin, because it is the product of pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) and alcohol. When panthenol is metabolized by living cells, it releases Vitamin B5. But on hair, it stays in its Provitamin form. This ingredient has been used for years in hair care products because of its alleged ability to penetrate, strengthen, and thicken hair.
However, there’s not much evidence that this provitamin really has a significant effect on hair at all. The results of studies that have been done are not very clear. Why not? Well, it’s kind of messy – some tests were conducted with high concentrations of Pathenol that are not typically used in commercial products. Other studies used more appropriate levels, but let the hair soak in the solution rather than rinsing. And finally, even when used at a high enough level, even when left on hair, there’s still conflicting data whether or not it has a significant effect on hair’s tensile properties.
But back to Pantene. Surely P&G, the makers of Pantene, must have data to show how good it is on hair. You can go here to read exactly what P&G says, which is basically “it’s known for its revitalizing and conditioning effects in the hair and skin, Panthenol has humectant-like properties that promote moisture absorption…” Hmmm, we wonder, if they had solid research data would they share it publicly?
The Brains‘ Bottom Line:
It’s tough to find clear evidence that pathenol is really helping your hair. As we’ve discussed before, using a good conditioner and protecting your hair from damage is the best thing you can do. Vitamins like B5 don’t significantly contribute to that process. If you want to read about what panthenol really DOES do, go check it out here at PDRhealth.