Vitamin K is best known for its ability to help blood to clot. The “K” is taken from the German word “koagulation,” which means the formation of blood clots. Most creams that contain vitamin K harness this property to help solve a variety of skin problems. It’s rare to suffer from a deficiency of vitamin K because the body makes its own supply in the intestines. But it is possible to boost levels by eating leafy green vegetables, including kale and broccoli, and some vegetable oils, such as canola and olive, which are all high in vitamin K.
Bruises are formed when a bang or a knock breaks capillaries, causing them to leak blood close to the skin's surface, forming an unsightly purple or brownish mark. Medical studies show that smoothing vitamin K cream onto the affected area can limit the leaking, reducing the severity of a bruise, particularly if applied soon after the trauma. Vitamin K cream has been shown to be even more effective if it also contains retinol. Gently rubbing the cream onto a bruise twice a day also helps to break down the blood and assist the body in absorbing it, encouraging the bruise to fade faster.
Decrease Dark Circles
One of the most common beauty products to contain vitamin K is eye cream. Some dark circles are caused by fragile capillaries leaking blood in the delicate undereye area where the skin is so thin the blood is clearly visible in the form of brown bags. Gently tapping on a vitamin K cream can diminish the discoloration by causing the blood to clot, stopping it from spreading, while also helping to prevent further leakage. The most effective creams for dark circles also contain vitamin C, which helps the skin absorb vitamin K more quickly, and vitamin A, which helps with renewal and collagen growth, strengthening the thinner undereye skin.
Healing after cosmetic surgery can often be a disappointingly long process. To help improve patient satisfaction, plastic surgeons have long prescribed vitamin K creams to reduce bruising and scarring during the recovery period. Applying the cream regularly for two weeks before facelift surgery can also help limit postoperative bruising. One medical study has shown topical application of vitamin K reduces bruising after facial laser treatments and would also be likely to help fade bruises caused by other nonsurgical treatments, such as the use of fillers on facial lines.
Subdue Spider Veins
Many over-the-counter creams that claim to treat unsightly red veins contain vitamin K. The theory is that these thread, or spider, veins behave similarly to bruises because they are both caused by the pooling of blood from damaged blood vessels -- since vitamin K is known to reduce bruising, it should therefore also reduce thread veins. But medical opinion varies. In the United Kingdom, doctors sometimes recommend the use of creams containing 5 percent vitamin K to reduce the appearance of fine red veins sitting just under the skin's surface. However, no medical studies have demonstrated its effectiveness.
- Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin K
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin K
- Oprah: Why Do I Bruise So Easily?
- US National Library of Medicine: The Effects of Topical Vitamin K on Bruising After Laser Treatment
- US National Library of Medicine: Effects of Topical Vitamin K and Retinol on Laser-Induced Purpura on Nonlesional Skin
- Health 911: Bruises
- US National Library of Medicine: The Effects of Topical Application of Phytonadione, Retinol and vitamins C and E on Infraorbital Dark Circles and Wrinkles of the Lower Eyelids
- NBC News: The ABCs of Vitamins for More Beautiful Skin
- Innovative Aesthetics -– Dr Cain’s Blog: Vitamin K Shown Effective at Treating Under-Eye Circles
- US National Library of Medicine: The Role of Topical Vitamin K Oxide Gel in the Resolution of Postprocedural Purpura