Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Shreya Singh (Pharmacist)  on 01st Oct 2020

Introducing CoQ10: A Little-Known Skincare Ingredient With Big Potential

Introducing CoQ10

As if acne and breakouts randomly popping up on your face weren't enough, there’s also the added fear of premature aging induced due to the free radicals generated by prolonged exposure to pollution and UV rays.

But fret not! We are here with yet another ingredient spotlight that could be the one-stop solution for all your skin woes! 

Innovations are changing the skincare industry!

It seems like the skincare world is constantly coming up with innovations to introduce breakthrough ingredients promising healthy, radiant, and younger-looking skin.

The latest on our radar? CoQ10, an underrated skincare ingredient that boasts anti-aging, anti-oxidant, and restorative benefits for your skin.

It is one of those hidden gems in skincare that we hardly know or talk about. So, whether you’re a newbie or a pro to the world of skincare, this ingredient might sound alien to you.

In this ingredient spotlight, we will deep dive into this unfamiliar ingredient to know how it improves the overall health of your skin, and why we think it might be that one skin-guardian that your skincare arsenal is missing out on! Read along to find out all about this youth-inducing compound. 

Say Hello to Coq10!

First off, what even is CoQ10?

Well, Coenzyme Q10, or more preferably known as CoQ10, is a naturally occurring co-factor produced in our body, in all animals, and tonnes of bacteria.

It is found in the cell's mitochondria, where it is involved in producing energy to carry out the skin's basic functions, such as growth, regeneration, repair, and maintenance.  

Fun fact:

If you recall what we mugged up in our biology class, “The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.” Yes, that’s precisely where this potent compound is homed! 

It is also known as Ubiquinone, which is found throughout the body, being highest in the liver, kidney, heart & pancreas and is taken either in topical form or ingested as an oral supplement.

It functions as a powerful antioxidant in our body, which is vital in maintaining your skin’s overall health by neutralizing the invading free radicals that can gradually eat away at your skin.

But unfortunately, as we age, our body’s ability to naturally synthesize CoQ10 starts decreasing due to aging and stress, especially around the ages of 35 to 40.

Since it is such a vital antioxidant and crucial for energy production, a decline in the levels of Coq10 is regarded as the most critical biomarkers of aging. This decline makes your skin more susceptible to increased stress and damage and often leads to the initial signs of premature aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.

And this is the reason why incorporating products with CoQ10 in your skincare repertoire could help in retaining the youthfulness of your skin for more extended periods. 

Good to know:

Owing to its deeper penetration, topical application of this ingredient has been shown to accelerate the CoQ10 levels in the skin, while oral ingestion does not reach the deeper layers of the skin. 

How does CoQ10 benefit the skin? 

In regards to the skin, there are few limited research studies for human trials and some lab studies that have shown positive and promising effects of CoQ10 on the skin.

Some of its anecdotal benefits of topical CoQ10 includes: 

1. Helps in the energy production of the skin for a more radiant complexion:

As mentioned earlier, CoQ10 helps in the essential regeneration and repairment functions of the cell, which is vital in maintaining your skin’s health and getting rid of toxins.

Therefore, it provides energy to the skin to carry out its essential functions faster, and your skin persists looking youthful and energized. A more energized skin means a more radiant complexion.

This is why a young and energetic skin has higher levels of CoQ10, which are gradually depleted as we age. 

2. Acts as free radical scavenger: 

Our skin is continuously exposed to oxidative stress from pollution and sun exposure on an everyday basis.

All these external factors and some internal ones can cause the release of free radicals in our skin. These free radicals attach to the proteins and tear down your skin from the inside out by causing cellular damage, which ultimately leads to premature aging. 

So, what’s CoQ10’s role in defending the skin against free radical damage?

CoQ10 is an incredible antioxidant that can donate its electrons to the free radicals and neutralize it so that it’s no longer toxic for your skin. It alleviates oxidative stress by stabilizing free radicals, which further inhibits any potential damage. It thereby protects the skin against various environmental stressors, including UV damage and prevents photoaging.

Also, several studies have observed that the topical application of CoQ10 on the skin results in decreased levels of free radicals and other inflammatory markers in the skin. 

3. Slows down the aging process of the skin:

Is there any skincare term that is bigger and more loaded than anti-aging? 

CoQ10 is a potent anti-aging ingredient that can effectively translate your skin to a youthful complexion.

It has been shown to penetrate down to the deeper dermal layers of the skin, where it stimulates the production of collagen and fibroblasts, both of which are crucial in maintaining structure, elasticity, and integrity of the skin. Reduced production of these two can lead to wrinkled, saggy, and less firm skin.

A few bench research has shown that the topical application of CoQ10 can combat the signs of aging as it can bump up the collagen production, which smoothes out fine lines and wrinkles, resulting in firmer and younger-looking skin. 

4. Evens out skin tone and prevents hyperpigmentation:

CoQ10 helps fade and prevent hyperpigmentation and dark spots caused by an excess melanin deposition in the skin, thereby promoting even skin tone. It does so by inhibiting tyrosinase activity, which is the enzyme required in melanin production. 

5. Helps in the treatment of acne:

CoQ10, in general, is an antioxidant, so it doesn't kill the acne-causing bacteria or doesn't stop excess sebum production.

But it can help maintain the right skin balance when you're using harsh chemicals or even antibiotics for treating acne such as benzoyl peroxide, as they can be very drying and damaging to the skin.

Also, CoQ10 can be helpful in post-acne scar removal or scar prevention. Since CoQ10 in itself is non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn't clog your pores and can get into the deeper layers of your skin to stimulate collagen production. And more collagen not only means fewer wrinkles and younger-looking skin, but it also means less scarring. 

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Efficacy of CoQ10 and vitamin C

CoQ10 has shown its efficacy comparable to another powerhouse ingredient that we all are pretty much familiar with, i.e., vitamin C.

It has been shown to utilize the same pathway as that of vitamin C when neutralizing free radicals.

And similar to vitamin C, it also helps in the recycling process of vitamin E, which is another major antioxidant of the skin.

But interestingly, CoQ10 has been proven to overcome one of the major drawbacks associated with vitamin C: 

Hence, owing to all the above advantages of CoQ10 has over vitamin C, it has been in the skincare world for a long time. It is now in the limelight as consumers are becoming aware and smarter about skincare and demanding more research and development from the manufacturers.

Side effects and risk factors of CoQ10 for the skin 

The topical application of CoQ10 is known to be exclusively safe for all skin types with no to very few reported side effects.

However, you might need to take some precautions if you’re suffering from certain skin conditions such as vitiligo. It has been shown to inhibit the tyrosinase activity in the skin, which may worsen depigmentation in those suffering or have a history of vitiligo. 

Key Takeaways 

CoQ10, without a doubt, is a powerhouse ingredient like no other in skincare. It could be the secret of keeping your skin looking young and healthy for years and years.

Created naturally in your cells, it internally provides all the basic needs and energy to defend the skin against damage that can lead to degradation and aging.

However, despite being extraordinarily powerful, it is not being used to its full potential due to a lack of proper research and awareness, which might get conquered in the coming days.