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Could CoQ10 Be The Secret Weapon for Younger Looking Skin?

We are constantly seeking new methods to make our skin look firmer, healthier and generally younger. Numerous products on the market claim to boost cell turnover rate and improve the skin’s elasticity and firmness – and one such skincare ingredient is Coenzyme Q10. It is not a new ingredient, as the Japanese beauty industry has used it for years as part of their skincare routines.
The GlycanAge Team


  • Coenzyme Q10 (known as CoQ10 for short) is a naturally produced bodily enzyme which works as an antioxidant to protect our cells from damage. As we age, the levels of CoQ10 reduce and need to be topped up through CoQ10 supplements, CoQ10 skin care products or diet.
  • There are many benefits CoQ10 can potentially provide for younger looking skin. For example, replenishing skin cells, improving skin tone, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and working as an antioxidant.
  • CoQ10 can be found in various skincare products and is an ingredient that mixes well with others. This allows for the additional benefits of other active ingredients like vitamin C, beta carotene and essential oils to be enjoyed alongside CoQ10.
  • It is also possible to keep CoQ10 levels topped up through including foods that are naturally rich in the compound. Muscle meats like chicken, pork and beef are good examples, along with fatty fish, and some vegetables and fruits. Other food sources of CoQ10 include peanuts, lentils and sesame seeds.



We are constantly seeking new methods to make our skin look firmer, healthier and generally younger. Numerous products on the market claim to boost cell turnover rate and improve the skin’s elasticity and firmness – and one such skincare ingredient is Coenzyme Q10. It is not a new ingredient, as the Japanese beauty industry has used it for years as part of their skincare routines.

Coenzyme Q10 has been found in western beauty products for a while too. However, it is only gaining popularity recently due to consumers becoming more educated about skincare. The Asian markets are considered by many in the industry to be on the cutting edge of skincare, with star ingredients being more readily available and at an earlier time. Beauty brands in Asia also heavily invest in research and development, allowing them to create innovative products faster than the rest of the world.

This article explores Coenzyme Q10 as a powerhouse ingredient for younger-looking skin and how best to incorporate it into your anti-ageing skincare routine.


What is Coenzyme Q10?

Skeletal formula of CoQ10.

Coenzyme Q10 (otherwise known as CoQ10) is a naturally produced bodily enzyme and one of the most vital antioxidants. It helps protect cells from damage, provides energy products in cells, and plays an essential role in metabolism. However, as we age, the production of CoQ10 slows down, and supplies can diminish.

Humans produce CoQ10 at low levels when young, peak during late teens and then decline post 20 years of age. However, the 2019 CoQ10 and Ageing paper published in 2019 by Isabella Peixoto de Barcelos and Richard H. Haas from the department of Neurosciences, University of California San Diego, stated that the drop in CoQ10 levels is not seen in all species or all tissues. In addition, they are unclear as to whether lower CoQ10 levels have a part to play in ageing and age-related disease or whether it is an inconsequential cellular response to ageing.

Vitamin C is another popular powerhouse ingredient, but CoQ10 has also been shown to use the same pathway to neutralise free radicals. CoQ10 is naturally occurring in all human body cells – including the skin and stratum corneum (outermost layer of the epidermis).

Antioxidants, such as those found on CoQ10, can be applied topically to the skin to help shield it from environmental elements that contribute to ageing skin – such as pollution, AV radiation and infrared radiation. Environmental sources cause the majority of the ageing of our skin, so in theory, if we block them, the skin will slow less.


The Anti-Ageing CoQ10 Benefits for Skin

 Illustration of CoQ10 oil drop smoothing skin effects.

Although CoQ10 is naturally produced by our bodies and can be digested for energy, it is also understood to have a number of benefits in skincare products. Concerning skincare, the ingredient is often added to toners, moisturisers and under-eye creams with the promise of helping even skin tone and reducing the appearance of fine lines.


The main CoQ10 benefits for skin include the following:

  • Reducing Sun Damage – The powerful antioxidant functions of CoQ10 can help shield the skin at a molecular level from the harmful effects of the sun and other free radicals. CoQ10 can decrease the collagen degradation of skin and slow down the damage caused by photo-ageing. The skin becomes damaged when exposed to the sun’s UV rays, damaging the cells’ DNA.
  • Replenish Skin Cells – The more energised the skin cells, the healthier the skin cells. As reported by a team of researchers from the Beiersdorf AG, Research and Development in Germany, their data showed that topically applied CoQ10 could penetrate the skin, be metabolically transformed, use antioxidant effects, and support the maintenance of cellular energy levels.
  • Antioxidative Effects – With the skin being the outermost organ, it has a hard job of protecting the rest of the body against external stress factors. Cells are constantly involved in tissue regeneration and repair to combat the resulting damages. German researchers have found that CoQ10 aids cell activity meaning the cells can be more efficient at flushing toxins out and healing the damage they cause.
  • Improved Skin Tone – In a 2019 publication of Biochemical Pharmacology, a group of scientists found that CoQ10 works to block tyrosinase. In turn, this helps with the production of melanin, indicating that CoQ10 could help depigmentation or skin-whitening agent and could be used in cosmetic products for topical application.
  • The Appearance of Fine Lines and Wrinkles – CoQ10 can support the body’s ability to generate elastin and collagen, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The Institute of Cosmetics, Higher School of Applied Science in Slovenia, published a paper in 2020 confirming their study into the placebo-controlled trial effects of supplementation with CoQ10 on skin properties. Their results showed several positive outcomes for wrinkle reduction and improvement in skin smoothness. In addition, the influence on dermis density and thickness was also significant.


The topical use of CoQ10 is generally suitable for all skin types. However, caution ought to be taken if you have certain skin conditions – such as those with a history of vitiligo. This is because CoQ10 has been seen to block the enzyme known as tyrosinase, the enzyme needed for creating pigment. Blocking this enzyme can lead to worsening depigmentation in those who suffer from vitiligo. If you choose to ingest CoQ10, the side effects are mild, but there is a risk of upset stomach or heartburn. 


The Forms Available for CoQ10 Skincare

 Food high in CoQ10 on light grey background.

CoQ10 is added to various skin care products, including toners, serums, moisturisers, facial oils, and under-eye creams. One of the best parts of using CoQ10 as an ingredient is that it is safe to mix with other active compounds. For example, CoQ10 is added to products that contain vitamins E, C, B3 and B5, beta carotene, and essential oils like rosehip, chamomile and green tea for additional benefits.

It is also possible to use CoQ10 with other skincare products like before applying sunscreen and after sun exposure with an aftersun lotion. In addition, CoQ10 for skin can be used daily with no significant interactions with other topicals so that it can fit in easily with existing skincare routines. However, CoQ10 is fat-soluble, so mixing it with products containing similar ingredients is best. Combined with ingredients like retinol and glycan acid, it can lead to your CoQ10 serum breaking down more quickly and reducing potential benefits.

Many of us focus on the face for anti-ageing skincare, but we should not forget about the rest of the body. Apply CoQ10 cream to your body after showers or baths, as this is when your pores are most open and ready to absorb all the hydrating goodness.

While CoQ10 is often applied topically, it can work from the inside out and choose to ingest CoQ10 supplements or CoQ10 vitamins. A paper published as part of the Nutrition and Public Health Research programme in Slovenia showed that subjects consuming CoQ10 showed several anti-ageing effects, including reduced wrinkles, improved skin smoothness, and firmness. When taking an ingestible form, the absorption is gradual as it is a fat-soluble compound. Therefore, to help your body absorb it faster, take CoQ10 supplements with food.

There are also some foods which naturally contain sources of CoQ10. Muscle meats like pork, beef and chicken, and organ meats like kidney, liver and heart are all primary dietary sources. Other essential  CoQ10 foods include fatty fish, such as sardines, herring and trout. If you prefer a more plant-based diet, vegetables like spinach, cauliflower, oranges and strawberries are excellent options. Finally, lentils, soybeans, peanuts, sesame seeds and pistachios also contain CoQ10.


Closing Thoughts

By better understanding what CoQ10 is good for, you can choose the best way to incorporate it into your daily skincare routine. As our bodies are unable to store CoQ10, it needs to be taken regularly to see the benefits for your skin or otherwise. This is the case with all forms of CoQ10, whether you invest in CoQ10 supplements, CoQ10 topicas or choose a dietary route.

As great as introducing CoQ10 to your anti-ageing routine, maintaining a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise is key for a younger body and mind. Biological age testing is a great way to monitor your ageing processes, and can assist you in making the changes needed to age well.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Is CoQ10 anti-ageing?

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally produced molecule that acts as an antioxidant agent. The level of CoQ10 in the body decreases as we age, and people use CoQ10 products and foods to help bring the levels back up. In addition, research has found that CoQ10 plays a significant role in protecting the skin, which can support anti-ageing. 

How quickly does CoQ10 work?

Everyone's skin is different, and CoQ10 is only one of many anti-ageing tools we can include in our skincare routines. Most trials conducted into the effectiveness of CoQ10 for the skin have been over a period of at least 12 weeks. Remember that the body is unable to store CoQ10, so consistent use is needed to see the potential anti-ageing benefits.

When should I take CoQ10 morning or night?

CoQ10 products are safe to use morning or night. However, some may be formulated for different times of the day. Therefore, it is best to check the guidance given by the manufacturer, which can often be found on the side of the products, on a supporting leaflet, or online. With regards to foods that are rich in CoQ10, these can be eaten at any time of the day.

Does CoQ10 have side effects?

The potential side effects will vary depending on the form of CoQ10 being taken. For example, topical CoQ10 products may cause some people to have skin itching and rashes. CoQ10 supplements may cause slight digestive problems like slight abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. When side effects have been reported, they are usually mild, and most people find CoQ10 products safe to take when doing so as directed.

How much CoQ10 should I take for wrinkles?

Research into the correlation between CoQ10 dose-relationship and reduced wrinkles and fine lines is ongoing. Therefore, the recommended dose will be stated on the container when taking CoQ10 supplements or CoQ10 vitamins. Topical skin care products will also provide guidelines, but whatever form you use will need to be used consistently to see the potential anti-ageing results.




The GlycanAge Team

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