Vitamin K



Vitamin K description

Technically known as phytonadione, vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. Applying vitamin K to the surface of the skin won’t improve the look of unevenness or dark circles. This type of vitamin K is also referred to as vitamin K1. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology examined the effect of applying a gel containing 2% vitamin K plus 0.1% retinol, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Fifty-seven adults with dark circles participated in this 8-week study and the results, while not a slam-dunk, weren’t exactly discouraging either: 47% of the testers noted “fair to moderate” improvement in their dark circles. The majority of testers noticed no change, but the ingredient was well-tolerated. As encouraging as this seems, whether or not the results were from the vitamin K or the other vitamins is unknown. A minimum 1% concentration of vitamin K1 has been shown in animal studies to positively influence wound healing by hastening the natural process damaged skin undergoes as it works to repair itself. It is not known if this principle would apply to intact skin showing signs of ageing. The same concentration of vitamin K1 was used in another study to test its results on improving the look of dark circles. Although some improvement was noted, the formula in testing also contained caffeine and emu oil, although the study’s authors concluded that the dark circle benefits were solely attributed to vitamin K. Interestingly, despite somewhat encouraging research, we rarely see products that contain (or are likely to contain) the amounts of vitamin K research has shown can be beneficial.

Vitamin K references

  • Advanced Biomedical Research, January 2015, ePublication
  • Indian Journal of Pharmacology, July-August 2014, pages 409-412
  • Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, July-September 2012, pages 176-182
  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, April 2004, page 73

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated