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Well, you might as well go ahead and add healthy levels of coenzyme Q10 right next to the will to live, and the desire to make plans. Because apparently, we lose that one as we age too. We can’t catch a break! There may be, however, a chance to hold on to your coenzyme Q10 a little while longer. And that’s with topical skincare. Coenzyme Q10 skincare products can help you replenish this ever-declining antioxidant. And I call that a win if ever I’ve seen one! Keep reading to learn more about the skincare benefits of coenzyme Q10 and the best skincare products to try.
What Is Coenzyme Q10?
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), otherwise known as ubiquinone, is a natural antioxidant present in all human cells. It’s also found in the skin surface lipids, which are components of what makes your protective skin barrier (1).
It’s responsible for cellular energy production and has protective properties. Elements like UV radiation, stress, unhealthy diet, and lifestyle, combined with aging, simply cause decreased levels of CoQ10 in your cells.
Additionally, as CoQ10 is present in the outermost layer of your skin, it’s directly affected by all that damage from external sources like UV and pollution.
When used in skin care products like creams and serums, CoQ10 functions as an antioxidant and energizer. More on this in a bit.
What Are The Benefits of CoQ10 in Skincare?
Coenzyme Q10 is mostly found in anti-aging skincare products. Below are the most important benefits of CoQ10 for your skin.
1. CoQ10 increases cellular energy.
One of the most important functions of CoQ10 is providing cellular energy (2). Let me explain. I spend a good amount of time reading papers on the science behind the skincare products we use and the ingredients we like.
And I come across the term ‘cellular energy’ very often. And I always wondered “Cellular energy for what? What do they need all that energy for? What are they going to do?”.
Well, apparently, the concept of cellular energy is important. Because it means that the cells, whatever they are, need the energy to do stuff and interact with each other to complete certain tasks.
For example, that task may be neutralizing free radicals to protect your skin cells or replacing damaged cells. So by increasing CoQ10 levels with topical application, you can improve cellular functions in the skin.
That way, your skin is more resilient, because your cells are more effective in processes like protection, renewal, and overall maintenance.
2. CoQ10 is an antioxidant.
Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that can neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals (3). And free radicals can do a number on healthy skin.
They can compromise your skin barrier, cause hyperpigmentation, induce inflammation, and cause premature aging. And antioxidants like CoQ10 are the ones that fight free radicals, thereby preventing all that damage.
And you can replenish your skin’s CoQ10 levels simply by using topical creams and serums. That way, you can effectively fight early signs of aging, and protect your healthy collagen from degradation.
When the skin cells function properly, and when your skin is protected against free radicals, you can always expect youthful skin with reduced wrinkles and an even skin tone.
3. CoQ10 may help with hyperpigmentation.
Though coenzyme Q10 is widely praised for its antioxidant benefits, it may help with hyperpigmentation as well (4). Some studies claim that CoQ10 can interfere with melanin production, the process that results in the formation of dark patches on the skin.
And by interfering, CoQ10 can reduce hyperpigmentation on the skin and help you achieve an even skin tone. Even if this is not a widely accepted notion, the fact that CoQ10 is an antioxidant means it can also help with dark spots on the skin.
Because UV rays cause, among many other things, the formation of dark spots on the skin. And by protecting you from those, CoQ10 can indirectly help with uneven skin tone too.
The Best Coenzyme Q10 Skincare Products
From serums to creams, find below the best coenzyme Q10 skincare products.
This is an alcohol-free face toner you can use to balance your complexion after cleansing. It’s made with CoQ10 and also packs a bunch of skin soothers. Aloe, cucumber, and chamomile calm the skin while hyaluronic acid hydrates for softer and plumper skin. And with CoQ10, you collect the energizing and antioxidant benefits. This is a practical way to replenish diminished levels of CoQ10 in the skin.
Key Ingredients: Coenzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid, aloe, cucumber extract
Size: 4.2 oz/ 125 ml
Good To Know: Cruelty-free, vegan, alcohol-free
This is the most budget-friendly Coenzyme Q10 skincare product out there. It’s an anti-aging serum that lightly hydrates while promoting stronger, healthier skin. It boosts hydration with squalane, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. And to amplify the antioxidant effects of CoQ10, the serum contains vitamin E as well as signal peptides. This one can be an overall great anti-aging serum no matter your skin type. You can use it for maintaining healthy skin and also preventing premature aging.
Key Ingredients: Coenzyme Q10, peptides, squalane
Size: 1 oz/ 30 ml
Good To Know: Vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free
If you’re dealing with sun-damaged skin and dark spots, you can better utilize CoQ10 with this brightening moisturizer. Because it’s paired with one of the most effective antioxidants, vitamin C. The two antioxidants stave off free radicals, boost collagen production, and reduce the look of dark spots. And all that good stuff is formulated into a very moisturizing base so you get immediate skin-softening benefits too.
Key Ingredients: Coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, vitamin E, daisy extract
Size: 3.5 oz
This is like an organic vitamin juice for the skin. And it’s all thanks to its botanical-rich formula. Grape juice, green tea, borage oil, and allantoin infuse the skin with natural antioxidants. And on top of CoQ10, the moisturizer also contains signal peptides, vitamin C, vitamin E, and alpha-lipoic acid to boost collagen production, brighten the skin, reverse sun damage, and improve skin texture. The light cream also plumps up the skin with vitamin B5, hyaluronic acid, and squalane.
Key Ingredients: Coenzyme Q10, green tea extract, grape juice, vitamin C
Size: 2 oz/ 60 ml
Good To Know: Vegan, cruelty-free
Retinoids are some of the most irritating skincare ingredients. But there’s always a workaround to make it more tolerable and skin-friendly. So if you’re ready to commit, you can start with this retinol serum powered with a variety of antioxidants including CoQ10. It’s made with encapsulated retinol to avoid irritation. And it has Granactive Retinoid, a new, gentler alternative to retinoids. You get all the anti-aging and wrinkle-reducing benefits but you don’t deal with irritation.
Key Ingredients: CoQ10, encapsulated retinol, Granactive Retinoid
Size: 1 oz/ 30 ml
Good To Know: Cruelty-free
On the flip side, if your skin doesn’t seem to tolerate anything and you really want to do something about lines and wrinkles, you can try this affordable, super gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer. So you don’t need to deal with the stinging, burning, or irritation that comes with mainstream anti-agers. That’s the beauty of antioxidants like CoQ10. This one is formulated with vitamin E and beta carotene to maximize the anti-wrinkle benefits. It’s non-comedogenic to make it more suitable for acne-prone skin too.
Key Ingredients: CoQ10, vitamin E
Size: 1.7 oz
Good To Know: Alcohol-free, non-comedogenic
If you have age-related concerns in the eye area, we’ve got a CoQ10 skincare product for that too. This is a hydrating, firming anti-aging eye serum you can use to tackle dark circles, fine lines, and crow’s feet. The lightweight gel-like base contains niacinamide to reduce under-eye discolorations. And it has fermented black tea to repair free radical damage. But more importantly, it packs a rich blend of copper peptides and plant stem cells to soften under-eye wrinkles and smooth out the skin. And lastly, it rejuvenates and energizes the eye area with antioxidants like coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid, and vitamin E.
Key Ingredients: CoQ10, niacinamide, peptides, black tea
Size: 0.5 oz/ 15 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, vegan, cruelty-free
So these are some of the best skincare products made with coenzyme Q10. Remember, the more the merrier. So look for additional antioxidants in your CoQ10 products for amplified anti-aging benefits.
What Are The Side Effects of CoQ10 in Skincare?
CoQ10, as a skincare ingredient, doesn’t really have side effects. It can also be used even on sensitive skin (5), though caution is always required with everything when you have sensitive skin.
But other than that, it’s safe to use for pretty much any type of skin. It does, however, have a drawback. Because there are some concerns about the penetrative abilities of CoQ10 skincare products.
After all, what good is an antioxidant if it doesn’t penetrate the skin, right? And because of these permeability issues, there have been some workarounds.
For example, there is a synthetic version of coenzyme Q10 and it’s called idebenone (6). It functions like CoQ10, and has antioxidant properties, but is more successful when skin penetration is concerned.
Another workaround to increase the absorption and anti-wrinkle efficacy of CoQ10 is microencapsulation. Microencapsulation is when an ingredient is ‘capsuled’ with other ingredients so that the key ingredient can get past the permeability barrier.
So these are not necessarily side effects, but more like alternatives, which may be needed to make better use of this ingredient.
How Often To Use CoQ10 Products
Most CoQ10 skincare products are gentle face serums and moisturizers. So you can safely use them once or twice a day. As we’ve established, it’s a gentle ingredient that’s pretty low maintenance. So one can assume it won’t cause any problems. But as always, patch test just to be sure.
So this is what CoQ10 does when used in skin care products and how you can benefit from it too. Remember that these types of antioxidants also come as supplements, which is completely out of the scope of this article. Things change drastically when you go from topical to oral. Consider consulting a professional if you’re interested in oral supplements.
Read Next: The Best Squalane Skincare Products
- Knott, A., Achterberg, V., Smuda, C., Mielke, H., Sperling, G., Dunckelmann, K., Vogelsang, A., Krüger, A., Schwengler, H., Behtash, M., Kristof, S., Diekmann, H., Eisenberg, T., Berroth, A., Hildebrand, J., Siegner, R., Winnefeld, M., Teuber, F., Fey, S., Möbius, J., … Blatt, T. (2015). Topical treatment with coenzyme Q10-containing formulas improves skin’s Q10 level and provides antioxidative effects. BioFactors (Oxford, England), 41(6), 383–390. https://doi.org/10.1002/biof.1239
- Farage, M. A., Miller, K. W., & Maibach, H. I. (2009). Energetic effects of coenzyme Q10 [E-book]. In Textbook of Aging Skin (pp. 306–309). Springer Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-89656-2
- Draelos, Z. D. (2015). Coenzyme Q10 [E-book]. In Cosmetic Dermatology: Products and Procedures (2nd ed., p. 485). Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118655566
- Hseu, Y. C., Ho, Y. G., Mathew, D. C., Yen, H. R., Chen, X. Z., & Yang, H. L. (2019). The in vitro and in vivo depigmenting activity of Coenzyme Q10 through the down-regulation of α-MSH signaling pathways and induction of Nrf2/ARE-mediated antioxidant genes in UVA-irradiated skin keratinocytes. Biochemical pharmacology, 164, 299–310. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2019.04.015
- Hoppe, U., Bergemann, J., Diembeck, W., Ennen, J., Gohla, S., Harris, I., Jacob, J., Kielholz, J., Mei, W., Pollet, D., Schachtschabel, D., Sauermann, G., Schreiner, V., Stäb, F., & Steckel, F. (1999). Coenzyme Q10, a cutaneous antioxidant and energizer. BioFactors (Oxford, England), 9(2-4), 371–378. https://doi.org/10.1002/biof.5520090238
- Baran, R., & Maibach, H. I. (2017). Idebenone [E-book]. In Textbook of Cosmetic Dermatology (pp. 76–79). Taylor & Francis. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781315160504