I first heard about Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in one of my pathophysiology lectures a few years ago. The lecturer was saying “they have started putting it this enzyme into cosmetics so that’s very lucky for this generation as it’s very effective!”
So surely if my lecturer (who does scientific research for a living) was supportive of these cosmetics, surely there was something real behind the use of this ingredient.
CoQ10 has two roles in the body. The first is in the mitochondria, the power house of your cells. CoQ10 has the job of carrying electrons in the mitochondria and is a crucial step in creating energy for every single cell in your body.
Secondly, it acts as an anti-oxidant. Our bodies use oxygen to make energy, but in the process it can create reactive oxygen species or free radicals. Another source of free radicals is from UV exposure, cigarette smoke, and other environmental toxins.
Free radicals are extremely reactive because they contain a single, unpaired electron. Electrons like to pair up and are the most stable this way (like two people in a healthy relationship!). A single electron is like a desperate home wrecker, it finds a pair of electrons and steals one of them away, causing damage to that molecule. The left over electron becomes a new single electron and goes on to become another home wrecker causing cell damage. A chain reaction of electron pair home-wrecking is set up and can cause a lot of cell damage including:
- DNA damage which can cause mutations (leading to skin cancers)
- Cell protein damage
- Lipid damage (lipids make up cell membranes)
- Accumulations of toxins
- Reduce the body’s repair mechanisms
Specific to skin-case and beauty, free radicals cause a lot of damage to the skin. It increases a protein (matrix metalloproteinase-1) that breaks down collagen. This is why people who spend a lot of time in the sun (without sunscreen) or smoke have aged skin; free radicals are the culprit.
To stop the free radicals from causing this damage, we fight them with anti-oxidants.
The job CoQ10 had as an electron carrier in the mitochondria allows it for perform its anti-oxidant role very well: it can very easily give away one or two electrons to make those unhappy single electrons in free radicals coupled up and stable (kind of like a a really good matchmaker!)
CoQ is naturally produced by the body. But there are a number of supplements and cosmetics that have CoQ10 added to them.
A study has shown that direct application of CoQ10 to the skin has penetrated to the deeper layers, reducing free radicals and reducing winkles!
There are a number of products that contain CoQ10:
- Nivea Range of Q10 Plus
- Sana Soya & CoQ10
- THEFACESHOP Q10 face mask
- Kose Q10 Vitals Plus
- My beauty diary Q10 Masks
A word of caution however, I couldn’t find out how much CoQ10 is contained in these products. This study showed great results of using topical concentrations of 0.01% CoQ10 twice a day. If these products have less than that then they might not be as effective.
Other quick notes about CoQ10:
- Taking them orally can improve cardiovascular disease. Same anti-oxidant principles!
- Taking them orally doesn’t help with psychological conditions or affect the brain as CoQ10 doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier
- Choose CoQ10 over collagen containing products. Regardless of how much is in, collagen can’t penetrate the skin because the molecule is too big. It may have great moisturising properties, but CoQ10 will actually prevent collagen breakdown from the inside.
Do you have any favourite CoQ10 products? Do you know any products with a high CoQ10 concentration? Leave me a comment below!