Spotlight On: Coenzyme Q10

Ingredients, Skin Care
Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q-10 — also known as ubiquinone — is found naturally in the human body as something essential for the production of cells (Mayo Clinic). Coenzyme Q-10 levels are at their highest for the first 20 years of life and then subsequently decrease as we age. Researchers are investigating how this antioxidant might be related to the aging process and longer life span. Though it’s shown process with lab rats, it doesn’t appear to do much for lab rats (MedlinePlus).

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Action

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q-10 is considered a regenerative antioxidant (Journal of the American College of Nutrition). When applied to the skin, Coenzyme Q-10 has been shown to penetrate the skin layers and reduce the oxidation, reduce wrinkles, and prevent UVA-irradiation damage (Biofactors). It’s antioxidant and coenzyme effects also help prevent cell death.

Coenzyme Q10

Q-10 is an integral part of the mitochondrial electron transport chain, which is depolarized by UVB-irradiation. When skin was treated with Q-10 before UVB exposure, it mitigated these effects and increased cell viability (Journal of Biological Chemistry).
In addition to this, Coenzyme Q-10 helps to suppress the inflammation that occurs with UV-irradiation. That was magnified when coenzyme Q-10 was applied with carotenoids like beta-carotene  (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology). When mixed with carotenoids, it’s also able to stop the UVR induction of matrix metalloproteinase-1, which degrade collagen (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology). In this way it serves as a powerful ingredient in anti-aging.


Coenzyme Q-10 can degrade in heat and light, so products in air tight, opaque containers are ideal (Chemical Pharmacy Bulliten).

Works Together with Vitamin C and Vitamin E

Coenzyme Q10 + Vitamin C + Vitamin E

As longtime FutureDerm readers know, different antioxidants work on different pathways within the skin. There are at least three major pathways that detoxify the skin (as well as the rest of your cells) from free radicals (Nature, 2013). 

What makes coenzyme Q10 great for use with vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid and vitamin E is that it operates in the same pathway as these antioxidants. This means that, when any of the three antioxidants encounter a free radical and neutralize it, losing an electron in the process, they can be regenerated by having one of the other two antioxidants donate an electron (Cosmetic Dermatology). For this reason, coenzyme Q10-containing products are a great addition to use with vitamin C + vitamin E-containing products, like our FutureDerm Vitamin CE Caffeic Serum

What are the Best Products Containing Coenzyme Q10? How Do You Incorporate Them Into a Skin Care Routine?

DHC Quick Gel Brightening Moisture

DHC Quick Gel Brightening Moisture ($68.00, contains a fair concentration of Coenzyme Q10. It has a medium-weight, olive oil-based formula that absorbs hydrates well and makes it ideal for normal to dry skin types, or skin that gets dry in the winter months. It has an almost cooling feeling upon the skin, and it drinks in at a fair rate, after about 20-30 seconds for a dime-size application. DHC Quick Gel Brightening Moisture has a very mild scent, like a mildly fruity olive oil, as it is applied onto the skin, and it is scentless once it is absorbed.

To incorporate DHC Quick Gel Brightening Moisture into a skin care routine, I recommend using it after a vitamin CE serum, like our FutureDerm Vitamin CE Caffeic Serum. This is because vitamins C and E work in the same pathway as coenzyme Q10, strengthening the antioxidant action even further.

Perricone MD Chia Seed Serum

Perricone MD Chia Serum ($75.00, contains less coenyzme Q10 than DHC Quick Gel Brightening Moisture, but I still like it for dry to very dry skin types, with its ample amounts of omega-3 fatty acids embedded in chia oil. Perricone MD Chia Serum requires only a drop or two for application for most people, and it takes a minute or so to absorb. It has a strong, almost off-putting scent, but if you are the type of person who regularly uses natural or organic scented products, you may be used to this type of scent. Its main benefit is hydration.

To incorporate Perricone MD Chia Serum into a skin care routine, I recommend using it after a vitamin CE serum, like our FutureDerm Vitamin CE Caffeic Serum. This is because vitamins C and E work in the same pathway as coenzyme Q10, strengthening the antioxidant action even further. While retinol can make skin sensitive to the sun, its retinyl palmitate is quite weak, so I would not worry about it thinning the skin, especially when used with a vitamin CE serum and under a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Bottom Line

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q-10 has beneficial effects in and on the body and hasn’t been found to have many negative reactions, though it is as of yet untested on pregnant women and children. Some think it could help people live longer because it’s in every cell and is an integral part of cell production. On skin, it’s a powerful antioxidant and excellent for anti-aging, and works particularly well in conjunction with vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid and vitamin E.

What are your thoughts on Coenzyme Q10? Let’s discuss in Comments below!

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