Life Extension Magazine®

Smiling woman using plant-derived CoQ10 for boosting collagen

Topical CoQ10 for Younger-Looking Skin

Topical CoQ10 combined with plant extracts reduces facial sagging and wrinkle depth.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Robert Goldfaden and Gary Goldfaden, MD.

Oxidative stress damages delicate cell structures and diminishes the skin’s capacity for self-renewal.

Scientists have found that topically applied coenzyme Q10 helps repair this damage and reverse some of the outward effects of time.

Oxidative Stress Accelerates Skin Aging

When we’re young, skin uses its own natural supply of antioxidants to counter oxidative stress.1,2

But aging and chronic sun exposure deplete the skin’s antioxidant reservoir.3,4

Oxidative stress left unchecked results in inflammation,5 damaged lipids,6 dysfunctional mitochondria,7 glycated proteins,6,8,9 and mutated DNA.6,10

This compromises the growth and maintenance of youthful skin cells.

Over time, visible signs of premature aging appear, including wrinkles and sagging skin.

Coenzyme Q10

Woman touching face after boosting collagen

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a lipid-soluble compound found throughout the body.

In skin, it is present mostly in the outermost layer. There, it acts as an antioxidant, reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and DNA damage.11,12

In one study, pretreating human skin cells with CoQ10 before exposure to ultraviolet radiation decreased DNA damage by up to 70%, prolonging cell survival and protecting against skin cancer.12

CoQ10 is used by the mitochondria, the power plants of cells, to produce the primary energy source used for skin maintenance and repair.13,14

Human skin cells treated with CoQ10 show increases in energy metabolism.15,16

In a preclinical study, CoQ10 promoted the healthy proliferation of normal and aged fibroblasts.17

Fibroblasts are cells that make collagen and the skin’s extracellular matrix. Collagen is essential to maintain skin structure and integrity.12,17,18

CoQ10 also prevents collagen from being degraded by inhibiting the enzyme collagenase.12

Together, these beneficial effects diminish the appearance of unsightly wrinkles.

In one clinical trial, 20 mature participants with photodamaged skin topically applied CoQ10 around one eye and a placebo around the other eye, once daily.

After six months, there was a 27% reduction in mean wrinkle depth on the CoQ10-treated side, compared to the control side.12

Another clinical study also showed that topical CoQ10 reduced wrinkle grade scores, compared to baseline.

Goji Berry Extract

Skin stem cells secrete exosomes, which shuttle information and material to other skin cells.19

Exosomes signal fibroblasts to produce new collagen and elastin that give skin its firmness and elasticity.19

As we age, the number and function of skin stem cells decline.20 This leads to a loss of collagen and elastin, resulting in wrinkles and sagging.

Lycium barbarum (goji berry) is a fruit-bearing plant that grows in Europe and Asia.21

When aged human skin stem cells are treated with an extract of Lycium barbarum, they show increased vitality, exosome production, and greater activity of collagen-elastin gene expression.22

In one clinical trial, compared to placebo, topical use ofLycium barbarum stem cell extract reduced wrinkle depth and decreased facial sagging.22

Orchid-Derived Stem Cells

Microscope used to study orchid-derived stem cells

Calanthe discolor is a species of orchid native to Asia. Its stem cells have been shown to increase the output of multiple growth factors in skin stem cells.23

These growth factors activate tissue repair and regeneration. In a lab study, Calanthe discolor (orchid-derived) stem cells:23

  • Increased fibroblast proliferation by 220%,
  • Increased fibroblast migration by 144%,
  • Increased type I collagen (the most abundant kind) by 53%, and
  • Increased elastin by 81%.

In a clinical study, 26 participants with aging facial skin topically applied Calanthe discolor (orchid) stem cell extract or a placebo once daily to the target area.

After 56 days, compared to the placebo, Calanthe discolor led to a:23

  • 17% increase in skin firmness,
  • 10% increase in skin elasticity,
  • 13.7% increase in youthful skin glow,
  • 15% decrease in the number of wrinkles, and
  • 12% decrease in total wrinkle surface.

These improvements were accompanied by a lifting effect of the upper eyelids that rejuvenated the appearance of the eyes.23

What you need to know

Three Nutrients to Repair Damaged Skin

  • In the skin, oxidative stress damages cellular structures vital for cell renewal and repair.
  • Over time, this results in wrinkles and saggy skin.
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential nutrient that protects against oxidative stress and increases energy metabolism in skin cells to enhance tissue regeneration.
  • Lycium barbarum (goji berry) stem cell extract stimulates the activity of aged skin stem cells to reduce wrinkles, improve skin density, and decrease sagging.
  • Stem cell extract from an orchid called Calanthe discolor increases the synthesis of growth factors in aged skin stem cells, boosting output of collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep skin firm and healthy.
  • All three of these compounds have been combined into one topical formula to create firmer, more youthful-looking skin.


Woman smiling and taking a selfie

Oxidative stress accelerates skin aging.

Research shows that CoQ10 and stem cell extracts from two plants, Lycium barbarum and Calanthe discolor, help protect against oxidative stress and repair the damage it inflicts.

The result is reduced wrinkle depth and less skin sagging.

All three compounds have been combined into a topical formula to enable visibly firmer, younger-looking skin.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

Gary Goldfaden, MD, is a clinical dermatologist and lifetime member of the American Academy of Dermatology. He is the founder of Academy Dermatology in Hollywood, FL, and Cosmesis Skin Care. Dr. Goldfaden is a member of the Life Extension® Medical Advisory Board.


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