When looking for a good skincare product, firm skin is one of the most sought-after side effects. Many ingredients claim to increase skin’s elasticity and turnover rate, but CoQ10 has been popping up more and more when it comes to the firmness of our skin recently: But CoQ10 has been around for a long time. The ingredient has been a hero in Japanese beauty for years. How does it work?

Vanessa Thomas, founder of Florida-based Freelance Formulations; Kayo Body Care founder Christine Bullock; Union Square Laser Dermatology dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD; HiQ Cosmetics owner Patrick Pickens; board-certified dermatologist Lisa Pruett, MD, of U.S. Dermatology Partners; and plastic surgeon Michelle Yagoda, MD, broke it down for us. The following is what they had to say about CoQ10.

What is CoQ10?

It’s one of the most fundamental antioxidants, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which Thomas describes as a naturally produced bodily enzyme. She explains that Coenzyme Q-10 is a fatty-soluble quinone compound. “Coenzyme Q10 occurs in every cell of the human body. A coenzyme is a substance that aids or supports the action of enzymes, generally smaller than the enzymes. CoQ10 is vital in the production of energy in cells.”

We can produce as much CoQ10 as we need for energy when we’re younger, she says. We lose CoQ10 as we age because aging and stress slow down the process of creating it. Thomas notes that coenzyme Q10 in humans starts at low levels in childhood, peaks in adolescence, and begins to decline after adolescence.

According to Pruett, there is legitimate science backing up CoQ10’s antioxidant properties: “Antioxidants are basically shields you can apply to your skin to combat all the things that contribute to aging skin, including ultraviolet rays and infrared rays and ozone pollution. Our skin ages primarily from environmental factors, so if we can prevent those from happening, our skin will age less.”

Although this ingredient has been around for a while, it is currently having its moment as consumers become more savvy about skincare. Yagoda says that many ingredients gain popularity in Japan before gaining the same reputation in the U.S. because Japanese consumers demand more research and development from manufacturers and legislators, they are more knowledgeable about products’ effects, and they are more confident about efficacy when buying.

Benefits of CoQ10 for Skin

Natural CoQ10 can be digested for energy, but it also has a number of useful properties in skincare products. When it comes to skincare, it is usually found in toners, moisturizers, and under-eye creams, helping even skin tone and reduce the appearance of fine lines.

  • Energizes cell activity:. Bullock explains that skin cells need that energy to repair damage and remain healthy. In active cells, toxins are removed more easily, and nutrients can be used more effectively. With age, all of these processes slow down, resulting in dull, sallow, wrinkled skin. CoQ10 keeps your cells active and energized, ensuring they can rid themselves of toxins.
  • Reduce sun damage:. Pickens explains that exposure to UV rays can damage the skin by generating free radicals, which can damage the cells’ DNA. “CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin at the molecular level from the destructive effects of the sun and from free radical damage.” As Thomas explains, it works by “decreasing the collagen degradation of the skin and interdicting the damage caused by photo-aging.”