Read The Label: What You Need To Know About Vitamin B5 In Skincare

Vitamin B5 just might be the wonder ingredient you’ve been looking for in your skincare routine. Here’s the scoop.
Written by Témi Adebowale
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Read The Label: What You Need To Know About Vitamin B5 In SkincareMathilde Langevin/Unsplash

Feel like you need a dictionary every time you look at the ingredient list of a beauty product? Still unsure of the difference between retinol and retinoids? What about the unique benefits of vitamins B, C, and E? Are alpha and beta hydroxy acids the same thing? The skincare aisle can be overwhelming, but you don’t need a PhD in cosmetic chemistry to navigate it. With expert help, The AEDITION is demystifying and simplifying the beauty industry — one label at a time.

Vitamin B is well-known for its plethora of skincare and wellness benefits, but things can get murky when it comes to its numerous offshoots, including vitamin B3 (a.k.a. niacinamide), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. Vitamin B5 (read: pantothenic acid) is another vitamin under the ‘B’ umbrella, and, in order to learn more about how it can be added to your skincare regimen, we talked to two industry experts for the lowdown.

What Is Vitamin B5?

Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is a water-soluble B vitamin. It’s necessary for making red blood cells, breaking down fats and carbohydrates for energy, and maintaining a healthy digestive tract. When it comes to topical skincare, Krupa Koestline, clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants, explains that “it’s found to have anti-inflammatory, skin barrier-strengthening, and wound-healing properties.” As such, “it helps prevent infections by preventing biofilm formation on the skin,” she adds.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Skincare Benefits Infographic

While we’re used to talking about soothing skincare ingredients as either a humectant that draws moisture into the skin (think: hyaluronic acid) or an emollient that locks it in (hi, squalane), vitamin B5 is both. “It acts as both an humectant and occlusive to both hydrate and moisturize the skin,” Koestline shares. So, while pantothenic acid may not get the same level of attention as some of its fellow hydrators and moisturizers, its multitasking status earns it plenty of respect.

When it comes to finding vitamin B5 in the beauty aisle, Koestline confirms that most skincare products are formulated with panthenol, a pro-vitamin (or precursor), “that the body quickly converts to pantothenic acid.”

The Benefits of Vitamin B5 in Skincare

As you’ve likely started to notice, pantothenic acid has a multitude of benefits. “It is an excellent and important skin nutrient,” says René Serbon, an aesthetician and skin expert. She breaks down its capabilities in the following way:

  • Hydrate & retain moisture in the skin
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Calm irritation
  • Promote skin healing & regeneration
  • Stabilizes disrupted skin barriers

But that’s not all. Because of all these nourishing and barrier-boosting properties, “vitamin B5 has shown to be beneficial to skin suffering with acne,” she adds.

The Best Candidates for Vitamin B5

Do you have acne-prone, dry, or sensitive skin? Say hello to your new best (skincare) friend. “Vitamin B5 is generally gentle and safe for everyone with low chances of irritating the skin,” Koestline says. And those with oily skin “may also like it, as it provides very lightweight moisturization,” she adds.

Heading into your provider with a skin resurfacing treatment? You may want to add a product with panthenol to your post-op skincare routine. “Because of its wound healing properties, it’s particularly useful post-procedure, like any type of microneedling, ablative laser, or chemical peels,” Koestline shares. As for those who should stay away, Serbon says there are no particular skin types that need to avoid vitamin B5.

How to Find the Right Vitamin B5 Product

Finding the right B5 product starts with reading the ingredient label, as the item may not say ‘vitamin B5’ outright. Koestline notes that it can be listed as panthenol, provitamin B5, butanamide, and d-pantothenyl alcohol.

Next, you’ll want to take your skin type into account. “If you have sensitive skin and are looking for a vitamin B5 product to soothe your skin, look for a product without any fragrance,” she suggests. And then there is a the potency. Since the concentration of vitamin B5 in a product isn’t usually publicized, you’ll want to look for one that’s formulated with other hydrating ingredients — “like antioxidants, other humectants, and other occlusives,” Koestline explains — to boost its benefits.

How to Add Vitamin B5 to Your Skincare Routine

Vitamin B5 gives you the gift of choice, as you can choose where you want to put it in your routine. The beauty of the ingredient is that it does not increase photosensitivity, which means it can be used both morning and/or night, and it plays well with other ingredients.

For serums, the Sweet Chef Celery + Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum Shot contains panthenol, and it can be used as a hydrator before your moisturizer. Glossier Super Bounce is another great moisturizer, while the Tula Calming Vitamin B Serum is a good option for those with irritated or acne-prone skin.

A fan of toners? “Another benefit that vitamin B5 has is its ability to ‘piggyback’ other ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin,” Serbon shares. “This is especially true when in a formulation such as a toner.” The Etude House SoonJung pH 5.5 Relief Toner is perfect for sensitive skin, and oily skin types should go for Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner.

Masking options include the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast B5 Facial Sheet Mask and SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Mask. Both are ultra nourishing and suitable for sensitive, post-procedure, and dry and dehydrated skin.

It’s worth noting that vitamin B5 has a similarly softening and shine-inducing effect on the hair, and it may be in some of the conditioners and leave-in treatments you are already using. It’s also possible that it’s in some of the products in your makeup routine thanks to its emoillient and moisturizing properties.

The Takeaway

Vitamin B5 is a member of the B complex vitamin group. Inside the body, it helps to make red blood cells. On the skin, pantothenic acid can be used to help pretty much all skin types retain moisture, restore the skin barrier, and reduce inflammation. From skincare and body care to makeup and haircare, there is a good chance pantothenic acid is already in your beauty routine, but, if it’s not, it’s definitely deserves a spot in your regimen.

All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.

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TÉMI ADEBOWALEis an editor at AEDIT.

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