The Full 101 on Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in Skincare

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Coenzyme Q10, which also goes by ubiquinone, is the go-to for antioxidant protection, firmness, and even tone. Given its plethora of skin benefits, it’s easy to see why beauty enthusiasts can’t get enough of it. So, getting familiar with this powerhouse is essential for any robust skincare strategy. As gentle as it is, CoQ10 does a lot to the skin, and it shouldn’t miss from your arsenal, whatever the skin type or concern. Yep, CoQ10 benefits everyone, and here you’ll find everything there is to know about this staple ingredient, how to use CoQ10 to reap the most of it, and some more.

What is CoQ10?

CoQ10 is a fat-soluble vitamin-like compound naturally produced by the body and found in almost every cell. The role of CoQ10 is to generate energy in the cells, support regeneration, repair, and protect against oxidative cell damage.[1] But with age, the natural level of CoQ10 decreases, making the skin more prone to oxidative stress and damage, which translates into early fine lines and wrinkles. So, replenishing CoQ10 levels with skincare (and foods) is what you should do.

Benefits of CoQ10 in skincare

Wondering what does CoQ10 do for the skin? A lot. CoQ10 is a fantastic multitasker that improves overall skin health, prevents premature aging signs, and strengthens the complexion, making it more resistant to external damage and oxidative stress. These are the benefits of CoQ10 in skincare:

  1. Provides antioxidant protection: as a free radicals scavenger, CoQ10 hinders free radicals (UV, pollution, smoke) from damaging the skin, helping prevent early wrinkles and dark spots.[2]
  2. Energizes cells: once applied to the skin, CoQ10 acts as a messenger that sends signals to cells to repair, nourish and energize them.
  3. Evens tone: as a blocker of tyrosinase enzyme (dark pigment-producing), CoQ10 helps fade and prevent dark spots, post-acne marks, and discoloration.
  4. Induces collagen and elastin production: CoQ10 not only prevents collagen degradation by shielding against oxidative stress but it also aids in promoting fibroblasts proliferation, accelerating the production of new collagen and elastin.[3]
  5. Firms skin and softens wrinkles: related to its ability to boost collagen and elastin proteins, CoQ10 prevents and minimizes the look of wrinkles while reinforcing the protective barrier. This, in turn, makes skin appear firmer and bouncier.
  6. Prevents further damage: by neutralizing free radicals and helping produce essential proteins, CoQ10 makes skin more resilient against damage and increases the ability to retain moisture.

How to use CoQ10 for skin

As far as skincare is concerned, you’ll find CoQ10 in all sorts of products, from toners to eye creams, serums, and moisturizers. Of all, serums benefit skin the most since they allow better penetration of CoQ10, promising to deliver a myriad of boons, from even tone to firmer, more protected skin. On cleansed skin (and toned) skin, layer CoQ10 serum, then trap all its goodness in with a moisturizer. Another way to enjoy CoQ10 benefits for the skin is to take supplements with CoQ10. They have been shown to reduce visible signs of aging and improve skin smoothes in as little as 12 weeks of daily use of 50mg and 150mg of CoQ10.[4]

To note, CoQ10 is an element that degrades quickly once exposed to light and air, so it’s important to store your CoQ10 product in a dark place, a cold place like the fridge. 

CoQ10 side effects

When applied topically, CoQ10 is a well-tolerated ingredient with no adverse effects that all skin types can use. However, those with a history of vitiligo should use CoQ10 with extra care. As CoQ10 blocks the pigment-production enzyme, it may increase the chances of depigmentation in those who have vitiligo. 

As for oral CoQ10, side effects are rare and mild. However, stomach upset and insomnia have been reported in a few cases, so you may want to check with your doctor before making a CoQ10 supplementation plan.


References

  1. Saini R. Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrientJ Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011;3(3):466-467. doi:10.4103/0975-7406.84471
  2. Knott, A. et al. Topical treatment with coenzyme Q10-containing formulas improves skin’s Q10 level and provides antioxidative effectsBiofactor 41, 383–390 (2015).
  3. Muta-Takada K, Terada T, Yamanishi H, Ashida Y, Inomata S, Nishiyama T, Amano S. Coenzyme Q10 protects against oxidative stress-induced cell death and enhances the synthesis of basement membrane components in dermal and epidermal cells. Biofactors. 2009 Sep-Oct;35(5):435-41. doi: 10.1002/biof.56. PMID: 19753652.
  4. Žmitek K, Pogačnik T, Mervic L, Žmitek J, Pravst I. The effect of dietary intake of coenzyme Q10 on skin parameters and condition: Results of a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Biofactors. 2017 Jan 2;43(1):132-140. doi: 10.1002/biof.1316. Epub 2016 Aug 22.
Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana is a sociologist and feminist with a shared passion for literature, psychology, and skincare, the combo that made her determined to start Women's Concepts. With over five years of experience in dermatological research, she has now become a certified skincare consultant keen to convince others of the importance of a diligent routine. Her close relationships with dermatologists around the globe, along with years of researching, analyzing studies, and hand-testing products on a daily basis, made Ana one of the best persons you can get advice from.
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