Doesn’t coenzyme Q10 sound somehow familiar? It’s heavily promoted for a long time now as being fabulously helpful for us in all kinds of ways. But what does it have to do with healthy skin?
Your skin a complex organ. It’s a living and breathing part biological membrane that regenerates and repairs itself. Its building blocks and the full mechanism is nothing short of a miracle, but the two main proteins are collagen and elastin.
Collagen is a fibre-like protein that gives your skin its structure and lends it strength. The protein elastin is spring-like and gives your skin the ability to snap back when stretched. We all know how our skin looks when these two proteins get damaged or there are too few of them. We see wrinkly and sagging skin. Clearly, tired skin is not something anyone wishes for. Queue in coenzyme Q10.
Coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinone?
Throw on your lab coat, we are going to get nerdy: Coenzyme Q10 is also referred to as ubiquinone, vitamin Q10, or CoQ10 for short (and even just Q10). It’s a fat-soluble compound that your body naturally produces and is found in every tissue.
Q10 is a coenzyme because other enzymes need it to function. Every cell in your body needs it to produce energy. To be exact, it’s the mitochondria that are in charge of producing energy. While producing energy, mitochondria also generate a lot of free radicals and so need a constant supply of antioxidants to mop them up.
As you probably know, free radicals can cause damage to the cells of our body. This damage, also known as oxidative stress, plays a significant role in the ageing process.
Ubiquinone is a potent antioxidant. More importantly, it’s the only fat-soluble antioxidant that a human body makes. Unfortunately, the levels drop with age. Fortunately, Q10 is made by all living cells, hence it can be found in some foods such as fish, meat, nuts, and green vegetables. Only, it’s difficult to get enough through the diet. Of course, you can opt to take vitamin Q10 as a supplement.
Why has CoQ10 found its way into skincare?
The enemies of the proteins elastin and collagen are free radicals. These attack the proteins and cause them to lose shape. When free radicals come into contact with collagen or elastin proteins, they ‘steal’ electrons changing the shape of the protein. Once the elastin or collagen protein is out of shape, it no longer can serve its purpose.
Even worse, free radicals can hinder skin cell function. Oxidative stress is your skin’s worst enemy, it’s even the leading cause of chronic inflammation in the skin.
Antioxidant activity and sun protection
First and foremost, coenzyme Q10 is a potent antioxidant. That is, it neutralises free radicals. This means for our skin that it protects the all-important collagen and elastin, This helps prevent chronological ageing (loss of firmness in the skin as you get older) and photoageing (wrinkling and drying of the skin from excessive sun exposure).
Then coenzyme Q10 also protects against lipid peroxidation, which is when free radicals damage cell membranes which can result in inflammation. It also protects the membranes of mitochondria and regenerates other antioxidants, like vitamins C and E—both of which are just as important for healthy skin.
Reduces the appearance of wrinkles
Not only do the levels of Q10 decrease the older you get, but it also diminishes when you’re stressed or sick. That might be the reason our skin looks tired when we’re not 100% well. It only follows that we can counteract by supplementing our skin with skincare products that contain CoQ10.
Energise skin cells
Every single cell of your body needs energy to function properly. This is especially true, when it needs to repair or regenerate itself. Active cells get rid of toxins easily and can make better use of nutrients. CoQ10 is needed in all these processes as it supports the cell energy needs.
Evening out skin tone
Sun exposure, hormonal changes, and some medications can increase melanin production. This results in dark spots or areas on the skin. Vitamin Q10 blocks the enzyme tyrosinase, which is needed when our bodies generate the pigment melanin. Inhibiting this enzyme can help prevent and fade hyperpigmentation.
How to use it?
Since it’s present in every cell in our body, it’s safe for all skin types. It can even be mixed with other ingredients. You can find it as skincare products that you apply to your skin or as a dietary supplement.
Since it’s fat-soluble, it mixes best with like ingredients. That means, if you take it as a supplement, ingest it with food, especially oils. This can your body absorb it up to three times faster than taking it on an empty stomach. Know that our bodies don’t store vitamin Q10, so you have to take it regularly to see benefits.
Typically, you can find toners, moisturizers, and under-eye creams, and even body creams and lotions with CoQ10. Look for vitamin C or E combined with Q10. They boost Q10’s efficacy.
Q10 has been discovered as early as 1957 and it enjoyed a boom in the late 90s and 00s. It’s a potent antioxidant occurring naturally in our bodies but declines with age.
Vitamin Q10 supplements are generally considered safe and very rarely have side effects. If it does cause side effects, they’re rather mild and might include stomach discomfort. To be on the safe side, always consult your doctor before adding it to your diet.
Did you like reading about the 4 benefits of Q10? Sign up for our newsletter to read more about Asian skincare tips and trends.