You can’t throw a body brush 3 feet in the skincare section of your local beauty store these days without hitting a cream containing coenzyme Q10. What is it, and why is it everywhere? I had no idea last week, so I put on my researching arm warmers (the correct equipment is vital in research!) and did some digging around…
Coenzyme Q10 (aka ubiquinone, CoQ10) is actually found in almost every tissue in your body! Your body produces a lot of it, and its main roles are as an antioxidant (goes around mopping up reactive free radicals before they can muck up your cells) and in aerobic cellular respiration (the way your body produces 95% of its energy, not just for walking and exercising, but for all the little processes that go on inside that you don’t notice). It was discovered in 1957 and since then has been researched extensively in the areas of cancer and heart disease.
While that’s very useful and important, we’re vain here, so the functions of CoQ10 we’re concerned about are its effects in the skin!
The main function CoQ10 has in the skin is its antioxidant effect. CoQ10 is believed to be involved in preventing both chronological aging (loss of firmness in skin as you get older) and photoaging (wrinkling and drying of skin from sun exposure). As you get older, the levels of CoQ10 in your body decreases, with peak levels occuring in your early 20s.
Like other antioxidants, CoQ10 helps prevent the inflammation and wrinkling caused by the radicals formed in your skin from sun exposure.
Now, there’s 10 times as much CoQ10 in the surface layers of skin (epidermis) than the deeper layers (dermis), so slapping it on the skin seems to be the obvious way of making up for low levels! Taking CoQ10 supplements will also increase levels in the epidermis.
Some studies confirm the effectiveness of using CoQ10. Cells treated with CoQ10 suffered 60-70% less DNA damage when exposed to UVA light. CoQ10 also reduced the production of an enzyme which destroys collagen, the chemical in your skin that gives it its firm, youthful bounciness.When CoQ10 cream was applied to crow’s feet, the depth of the wrinkles was reduced by 27%.
So if you’re concerned about sun damage, wrinkles and skin aging, CoQ10 can be a useful additive to your skincare routine!
U. Hoppe et al. Coenzyme Q10, a cutaneous antioxidant and energizer. BioFactors 1999, 9, 371.
A Chiu and A B Kimball. Topical vitamins, minerals and botanical ingredients as modulators of environmental and chronological skin damage. Brit J Dermatol 2003, 149, 681.
Z-R Huang, Y-K Lin and J-Y Fang. Biological and pharmacological activities of squalene and related compounds: potential uses in cosmetic dermatology. Molecules 2009, 14, 540.