EUK 134 may seem like a new ingredient, but it has been around the cosmetics for a few years and it did not reach its popularity until The Ordinary launched a product that contains it. But is it really worth using it or is it all hype?
What is EUK 134
EUK 134 or Eukarion 134 (INCI: Ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol Manganese Chloride) is a dark brown artificial molecule with a high antioxidant power.
This molecule acts by mimicking the activity of two enzymes that play a very important role in the skin: superoxide dismutase and catalase.
These enzymes are responsible for protecting cells from free radical damage among other things. They work by removing hydrogen peroxide and transforming substances called reactive oxygen species into others that are not harmful, such as water or oxygen.
Unlike other antioxidants, EUK 134 can regenerate by itself and does not lose its power after hours after having applied it, that is, after scavenging a free radical, it regenerates again to keep its function and continue scavenging other free radicals.
So it is not a surprise that this compound has antioxidant properties and can protect you against skin premature aging, while reducing damage caused by sunlight.
EUK 134 benefits
It reduces damage from UV rays
Applying EUK 134 one hour before UVA rays exposure reduces the level of lipid peroxides in the skin after being exposed to the sun1Declercq L, Sente I, Hellemans L, Corstjens H, Maes D. Use of the synthetic superoxide dismutase/catalase mimetic EUK-134 to compensate for seasonal antioxidant deficiency by reducing pre-existing lipid peroxides at the human skin surface. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2004;26(5):255–263. doi:10.1111/j.1467-2494.2004.00234.x. Furthermore, unlike other antioxidants such as alpha tocopherol, even when it is applied after sun exposure it is able to reduce lipid peroxide levels.
This helps antioxidant protection to increase, so sun damage decreases.
Another study concluded that applying EUK 134 before being exposed to UVB rays decreases the production level of the p53 protein (a protein that increases when skin is damaged by UVB rays), which translates into less oxidative damage2Decraene D, Smaers K, Gan D, et al. A synthetic superoxide dismutase/catalase mimetic (EUK-134) inhibits membrane-damage-induced activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways and reduces p53 accumulation in ultraviolet B-exposed primary human keratinocytes. J Invest Dermatol. 2004;122(2):484–491. doi:10.1046/j.0022-202X.2004.22215.x.
Furthermore, by decreasing and protecting skin from UV damage, it also decreases skin redness and decreases pigmentation caused by the sun.
It slows down skin aging
Euk-134 has been shown to help preserve collagen in the skin and by preserving collagen through its antioxidant properties, which may help to keep the skin looking youthful and firm.
In addition to its antioxidant properties, Euk-134 may also stimulate collagen production in the skin. One study found that Euk-134 increased the expression of collagen genes in fibroblasts, the cells that produce collagen in the skin3A synthetic superoxide dismutase/catalase mimetic (EUK-134) inhibits membrane-damage-induced activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways and reduces p53 accumulation in ultraviolet B-exposed primary human keratinocytes. J Invest Dermatol. 2004;122(2):484–491. doi:10.1046/j.0022-202X.2004.22215.x.
Furthermore, Euk-134 has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe and calm irritated skin. Inflammation can contribute to skin aging by damaging skin cells and leading to collagen breakdown.
Sun damage is responsible for most part of skin aging, EUK 134 is mainly focused on reducing the damage caused by exposure to the sun, so this will dramatically reduce aging.
It is recommended to use it together with sunscreen, since its effectiveness is not comparable to sunscreens protection.
How to use EUK 134 in your routine
It may seem like a low quantity, but most studies that have been done with this compound have used a concentration of a 0.05% EUK 134 and it is preferable to apply it during the day, since it is when we will be exposed to the sun.
We must make sure that our product contains at least that ingredient amount to ensure true effectiveness. There are some products that contain a higher concentration (such as 0.1%) and since there are no published studies, it is not known if the benefits increase when using more concentration, but it may be contraindicated in people with a more sensitive skin.
Depending on the product, if it is a cosmetic that already contains EUK 134, we should only apply by itself, while if it is a serum it should always be applied before the moisturizer or sunscreen.
Now, this molecule will be completely destroyed if we mix it in the same routine together with a powerful acid, that is, if you use any type of powerful acid or any of your cosmetics contain them, you should not use them at the same time or the effect of EUK 134 will be canceled. Some examples of ingredients that should not be mixed include:
- Acids such as ferulic, glycolic, salicylic, lactic, mandelic…
- Vitamin C in some of its forms (like ascorbic acid).