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Ingredient: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Fast Facts       

Type of Ingredient: An antioxidant also known as CoQ10 or ubiquinone

Main Uses and Benefits: Evens skin tone, reduces sun damage, and improves skin hydration.

Find It In: Antioxidant creams and serums

How Often Can You Use It: CoQ10 can be used morning and evening, before you apply any heavy moisturizers. CoQ10 is generally safe for most people to use. However, those with vitiligo should consult their dermatologist before using it.

Works Well With Aloe vera, vitamin C, vitamin B3, and hyaluronic acid

What Is CoQ10? 

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), also known as ubiquinone, is a vitamin-like, fat-soluble substance naturally present in the body. It is known to be a natural antioxidant that the body produces to maintain and help cells produce energy.

CoQ10 is a component of the electron transport chain in aerobic cellular respiration, a way in which our bodies convert food into energy using oxygen. Organs with the highest energy requirements, such as the heart, liver, and kidney, have the highest CoQ10 concentrations.

According to dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD, CoQ10 is vital in energy production in cells. When we're younger, we're able to produce as much CoQ10 as we need for energy. As we get older, aging and stress slow down the CoQ10 creation process, diminishing our natural supply. "Coenzyme Q10 in humans begins at low levels when we are young, peaks in our late teens, and begins to decline after 20 years of age," notes Idriss. 

CoQ10 can be taken orally as a supplement or topically using skincare products.

CoQ10 Benefits: What Does CoQ10 Do for Skin?

1. CoQ10 energizes skin cell activity

Research conducted by Anja Knott and colleagues show that topically applied CoQ10 gets absorbed into the skin, resulting in increase levels of quinones, which is then transformed into ubiquinol. This increased presence of ubiquinol enables skin cells to be more active, helping them get rid of toxins.

2. CoQ10 reduces free radicals that damage the skin

The sun's UV rays, which is a common source of free radicals, can be damaging to skin cells' DNA, causing damage that can accelerate aging. CoQ10 helps protect the skin at the molecular level from the damaging effects of the sun by reducing free radicals.

Since CoQ10 aids in increased cell activity, cells are more efficient in flushing out toxins to minimize the damage they cause. Dr. Lisa Pruett of U.S. Dermatology Partners explains that there's legitimate science backing up the claims of CoQ10's antioxidant properties. "Antioxidants are shields you can apply to your skin to combat all the things that contribute to aging skin, such as UV radiation, infrared radiation, and ozone pollution. Remember that the majority of the aging of our skin is from environmental sources so if we can block those from occurring, our skin will age less."

3. CoQ10 reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines

CoQ10 helps your body produce collagen and elastin, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines. One study showed that topical application of this ingredient diminished the depth of crow's feet by 43% after 10 weeks of use. 

4. CoQ10 evens out skin tone

CoQ10 works to block tyrosinase, which boosts the production of melanin. By blocking pigment-producing cells, CoQ10 can help fade and prevent dark spots. 

Research conducted by You-Cheng Hseu, along with colleagues from the Department of Cosmeceutics, College of Biopharmaceutical and Food Sciences in Taiwan, demonstrates that CoQ10 can block a variety of biochemical pathways required for melanin synthesis.

Is CoQ10 Safe?

While the topical application is generally suitable for all skin types, you might want to take caution if you have certain skin conditions. "If you have a history of vitiligo, approach topical CoQ10 products with caution," says Dr. Idriss. "CoQ10 has been shown to block an enzyme known as tyrosinase, which is necessary for creating pigment. By blocking it, it may lead to worsening of depigmentation in those who suffer from vitiligo."

No serious side effects has been reported when CoQ10 is used as a supplement. However, mild side effects, such as insomnia or digestive upsets, may occur. It is also important to note that CoQ10 is not regulated by the FDA as a nutritional supplement.

CoQ10 may interact with the anticoagulant (blood thinner) warfarin and the diabetes drug insulin, and it may not be compatible with some types of cancer treatment. CoQ10 is not FDA approved for treatment of cancer.