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Ask a dermatologist: what is CoQ10?

Last Updated: March 24, 2022

Ever wonder what CoQ10 can do for your face? Dermatologist Anna Chacon gives us the lowdown on this multi-tasking enzyme and offers pro tips for integrating it into your skincare routine.

Hello! I’m Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist living in sunny Miami, FL. I run a private practice where I specialize in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology with an emphasis on providing necessary medical care for indigenous Alaskan and American Indian tribes.

I’ve had a passion for dermatology from a young age, and I love talking about all things skincare. A common question I get is about CoQ10 — what it is, what its benefits are, and how to use it. If you’re curious about this skincare ingredient, too, you’ve come to the right place.

What is CoQ10 in skincare?

illustration of a face in profile

Coenzyme Q10, commonly called CoQ10, is an enzyme naturally found in every cell of our body, with the highest levels in the heart, liver, and kidneys. It’s a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from oxidative stress and bacteria that cause disease. As we age, our bodies make less CoQ10 – contributing to signs of aging like wrinkles, decreased elasticity, and dryness.

In skincare, CoQ10 is a hero ingredient often used to target many concerns. When applied topically, CoQ10 creams have been proven to increase its presence on both the surface layer of skin and deeper into the skin tissue. It aids in hydration, helps even out skin tone, improves the appearance of fine lines, replenishes skin cells — and more!

Ever wonder if you’ve got too many beauty products? Dr. Anna Chacon has tips for clearing out your clean beauty shelf.

Benefits of CoQ10

Helps even out skin tone

CoQ10 blocks the enzyme tyrosinase – which contributes to the production of pigment. Blocking this enzyme could help fade or even prevent dark spots.

Reduces fine lines and tightens skin

CoQ10’s ability to increase elastin production also helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles associated with aging as well as tightening skin for a firmer appearance.

Protects against sun damage

Because it’s loaded with antioxidants, CoQ10 protects skin from the damaging effects of UV rays.

Energizes cells

CoQ10 energizes cells, which helps them heal and renew more quickly. That means fresher, healthier skin that absorbs nutrients more efficiently.

Helps keep skin moisturized

The antioxidant and skin-renewing properties of CoQ10 help clear out impurities, leaving more room for your epidermis to absorb moisture — and hold on to it.

Check out the best natural face moisturizers for a hydrating boost where you need it most.

How to use CoQ10

CoQ10 is safe to apply daily, both morning and night. While CoQ10 doesn’t have any known interactions with other skincare ingredients, it’s always a good idea to test new products on a small patch of skin first to make sure you don’t have a reaction to it.

Can you use CoQ10 and retinol together?

Yes, retinol has a whole host of benefits that pair well with CoQ10 — they both work overtime to fight off free radicals that cause signs of aging. Additionally, retinol helps CoQ10 break down and absorb into the skin faster.

Can you use CoQ10 and vitamin C together?

CoQ10 can be used with products containing vitamin C. When combined, CoQ10 and vitamin C make a pretty powerful duo that tackles dullness and deep lines. It’s worth noting that vitamin C and retinol should not be used at the same time. Vitamin C is best used in the morning, with retinol being applied at night.

Can you use a CoQ10 capsule on your face?

CoQ10 capsules aren’t intended for topical use and shouldn’t be used on your face or skin. For best results, opt for a toner, cream, or other product formulated specifically for skin that lists CoQ10 as a main ingredient.

Side effects of CoQ10

People with a history of vitiligo should practice caution when using CoQ10, because it’s been shown to inhibit tyrosinase – an enzyme responsible for the creation of melanin. Inhibiting tyrosinase could lead to worsened symptoms of vitiligo.

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