Coenzyme Q10 is emerging as a popular ingredient in skin care. Also referred to as CoQ10, the oil-based antioxidant is naturally found in the heart, kidney, lungs and liver, say cosmetic chemists Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu. The antioxidant has made its way into skin care by way of the dietary supplement world, they explain. It’s an essential cofactor in a variety of metabolic processes in cells, says clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants Krupa Koestline. She adds that when it comes to skin care, CoQ10 is mostly lauded for its antioxidant and pro-collagen benefits, but that’s not all.
The benefits of Coenzyme Q10 on skin
The experts had varying degrees of confidence in CoQ10. Koestline explains that by stimulating fibroblast proliferation, the antioxidant helps stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. This can then help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. “As an antioxidant, it helps protect the skin from oxidative damage. As a skin brightener, it can help lighten dark spots,” says Koestline. She explains that it does this by inhibiting “tyrosinase activation and melanin production, which helps treat hyperpigmentation.” Cosmetic chemist Ginger King says it can also prevent skin sagging and promote a firmer appearance while decreasing collagen degradation caused by UV rays.
All of these benefits sound great. However, Fu and Lu point out that there’s not a ton of data on CoQ10 in skin care due to how unstable it tends to be in formulations. “Moreover, CoQ10 is typically tested in conjunction with other proven topical antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, so it’s difficult to say what CoQ10 brings to the table” on its own, they add.
Who should use Coenzyme Q10, and who should avoid it?
While Fu and Lu say the antioxidant should be okay for most skin types, they recommend a patch test when trying any new skin-care product. “CoQ10 does not seem to have harsh side effects and is generally well-tolerated across all skin types,” says Koestline. “However, because it does prohibit melanin production, those with vitiligo might want to avoid it. Otherwise, anyone looking to improve fine lines and dark spots can benefit.”
Expert-recommended products with Coenzyme Q10
Fu and Lu suggest Timeless Coenzyme Q10 Serum ($28), which also includes Matrixyl 3000, for a relatively inexpensive starting point. Koestline recommends Raaka World Deep Cleansing Face Oil ($78). It’s packed with other antioxidants alongside CoQ10, like pomegranate, sea buckthorn berries and cardamom. “The combination of cardamom and citrus fragrance notes takes me back to my childhood in India,” says Koestline. “It removes makeup completely while leaving the skin feeling plump and refreshed. It’s also one of the few cleansers that have the COSMOS certification.”
Koestline also suggests Klur Unseasonal Kind Face Oil ($90), which includes CoQ10, vitamin C and sea buckthorn extract. “The texture is wonderful, absorbs nicely, and the scent is incredible,” she says. Fu and Lu note that consumers should buy products that feature other beneficial skin-care actives, like those mentioned here, rather than a product solely boasting CoQ10.