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Panthenol is derived from vitamin B5, also know as Pantothenic Acid. In cosmetics and personal care products, Panthenol and Pantothenic Acid can be found in moisturizers, skin care products, hair conditioners, shampoos, wave sets, and hair sprays, as well as in makeup products such as eye shadow, lipstick and mascara.
Panthenol acts as a lubricant on the skin surface, which gives the skin a soft and smooth appearance. Panthenol and Pantothenic Acid also enhance the appearance and feel of hair, by increasing hair body, suppleness, or sheen, or by improving the texture of hair that has been damaged physically or by chemical treatment.
Panthenol and Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5) have the same biological activity and Panthenol can be converted (by oxidation) to vitamin B5 in the skin. Pantothenic Acid is found in all living cells and tissues and is essential for normal metabolism and hormone production. In cosmetics and personal care products, two forms of Panthenol can be found: D-Panthenol occurs as a viscous oil and DL-Panthenol occurs as a creamy white, crystalline powder.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes Panthenol (also called D-Pantothenyl Alcohol) on its list of nutrients (in this case a vitamin) and/or dietary supplements Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). The calcium salt of Pantothenic Acid, calcium pantothenate, is on FDA's list of direct food subbstances affirmed as GRAS. The safety of Panthenol and Pantothenic Acid has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Panthenol and Pantothenic Acid were safe for use in cosmetics and personal care products. In 2004, the CIR Expert Panel considered available new data on Panthenol and reaffirmed the above conclusion.
CIR Safety Review: The CIR Expert Panel reviewed studies that found that products containing Panthenol did not induce significant skin irritation or sensitization. Significant skin irritation was also not observed with 100% Panthenol. Based on ultraviolet light absorption data, the CIR Expert Panel did not considere Panthenol or Pantothenic Acid to be photoirritants or photosensitizers. Mutagenicity and carcinogenicity data were not available for the safety assessment of Panthenol and Pantothenic Acid. The low concentrations of use of these ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products and the requirement of vitamin B5 for normal metabolism, suggested that the dietary exposure levels of this ingredient would greatly exceed the amount that could be absorbed from cosmetic use. A salt of Pantothenic Acid, calcium pantothenate, did not cause developmental effects.
FDA: Link to Code of Federal Regulations for D-Pantothenyl Alcohol and calcium pantothenate
Panthenol and Pantothenic Acid may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.
EU Cosmetic Regulation
Panthenol is the alcohol analogue of Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5). In cosmetics and personal care products, Panthenol functions as a skin conditioning agent - emollient. Panthenol and Pantothenic Acid also function as hair conditioning agents.
Find out more about the regulation of Food Additives by the Food and Drug Administration
Food Ingredients and Packaging: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/default.htm
Food Contact Substances: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/PackagingFCS/default.htm
Substances Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS): http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/default.htm
Search the Code of Federal Regulations http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm
EU Cosmetics Inventory http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/
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