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Vitamine K interdiction cosmétique.

Is Vitamin K Prohibited in Cosmetic Products?

Known as a blood coagulant, Vitamin K is increasingly being used in cosmetics. However, it's important to note that there is a form of this molecule whose pure use is prohibited in skin care. Here is everything you need to know about the ban on Vitamin K in cosmetics.

Summary
Published April 16, 2024, by Kahina, Scientific Editor — 4 min read

Ban on Vitamin K in Cosmetics: What's the Situation?

The vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play a role in blood clotting. There are different forms of vitamin K that belong to the quinone family. What differentiates them is the nature of the carbon chain that attaches to the quinone.

  • Vitamin K1 : Also known as phylloquinone, phytomenadione, or phytonadione, it is naturally synthesized by plants. It can be found in photosynthetic organisms such as algae, for example.

  • Vitamin K2: Also known as menaquinone, it is found in the bacteria of the intestinal flora and is derived from the plants we consume.

  • Vitamin K3 : Also known as menadione, it is one of the synthetic forms of vitamin K. However, due to its side effects on the liver, it is not used in human nutrition.

However, according to the European Commission Directive 2009/6/EC of February 4, 2009, and after consultation with the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP), it was decreed that the use of pure vitamin K1 in cosmetics is not safe, due to risks of skin allergies and other negative impacts. As a result, its use is now banned in Europe.

Indeed, several cases of skin reactions have been recorded following the topical application of vitamin K1. The estimated frequency was 2.5 to 4 skin intolerances per 100,000 cosmetic products sold at a concentration between 1 and 2%. It would notably cause the onset of allergic contact dermatitis.

Furthermore, Vitamin K1 has a sensitization potential, meaning that its topical application can lead to significant sensitization to Vitamin K1, which is used in treatments for blood clotting. This sensitization can therefore be concerning for patients taking treatments based on this fat-soluble vitamin.

Therefore, Vitamin K1 would act as an allergen.

These observed reactions may be due to the activation of the immune system. When a person sensitive to Vitamin K1 comes into contact with this substance, their immune system may overreact, mistakenly identifying Vitamin K1 as a threat. This triggers the release of inflammatory mediators, such as histamines, which cause skin allergy symptoms such as redness, itching, and rashes.

Finally, vitamin K1 appears to be photo-unstable. Indeed, a study conducted by Vincent KAM-WAI WONG and Paul CHI-LUI HO demonstrated that when exposed to UV light at 254 nm, vitamin K1 rapidly decomposed with a degradation rate constant of 7.63 per day-1. This situation can potentially compromise the stability of the formula in which it is included and could potentially be photosensitizing for the skin, making it vulnerable to free radicals produced by oxidative stress.

Currently, cosmetic products claiming the presence of vitamin K typically contain the oxidized form (vitamin K oxide), which is less irritating and more stable. Moreover, reactions are individual and will depend on the person's allergic situation.

Sources

  • HO P. C. & al. Influence of DL methionine and sodium metabisulphite on the photostability of vitamin k1. PDA Journal of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology (1998).

  • DIRECTIVE 2009/6/CE DE LA COMMISSION du 4 Février 2009. Journal officiel de l’Union européenne (2009).

  • Opinion on vitamin K1 (phytonadione). Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (2010).

  • NOVÁKOVÁ L. & al. Vitamin K – sources, physiological role, kinetics, deficiency, detection, therapeutic use, and toxicity. Nutrition Reviews (2022).

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