Coenzyme Q10

Outstanding skin research expertise paved the way for active ingredient cosmetics

Our in-depth understanding of skin and our research expertise set us apart. We have always been driven by our ambition to decipher the complex processes of the skin on the basis of new findings and technologies. In the field of skin aging, our scientists kicked off a unique success story more than 25 years ago with their research on coenzyme Q10 – and have continued to add important insights ever since: Our researchers have been intensively investigating the importance of Q10 for the skin since the early 1990s. They were the first to decipher the importance of Q10 for energy metabolism in human skin and were finally able to make the skin’s own Q10 available as an active ingredient for the skin. With the first Q10 skin care products on the mass market under the NIVEA brand in 1998, this research success by Beiersdorf was the starting signal for a new level of active ingredient cosmetics in the anti-aging segment – to be followed by many more product innovations.    

To this day, our researchers are at the forefront of global Q10 skin research. New insights into the vital coenzyme are constantly being deciphered – and with our aim of developing impactful skin care innovations that touch people’s lives, the Q10 range is continually being optimized and expanded.  

Beiersdorf scientists were the first to make Q10 available in anti-aging skin care products. Today, Coenzyme Q10 is one of the most important active ingredients in this segment. We are very proud of this pioneering work as well as of our other globally recognized contributions to skin research. For our consumers, we are continuously developing our Q10 formulas technologically and sensorially to improve their care performance.


How Q10 counteracts skin aging

Aging is a multi-causal process – and coenzyme Q10 offers multi-layered effects that counteract various factors of skin aging. Q10 provides energy to the skin and acts as an antioxidant. This means that it protects our body from harmful free radicals, which can significantly accelerate skin aging, for example. Our research and development experts have proven that Q10 levels in skin cells decrease rapidly with age, stress and UV radiation. Supplying new Q10 via skin care creams restores the skin’s physiological balance. The skin regenerates itself and is more resistant overall.

Find out more about coenzyme Q10 and our research successes – first-hand from our experienced skin experts at Beiersdorf Research.  

Q10 Facts

  • Science
    Over 25 years of research expertise by Beiersdorf scientists
    Since mid-1990s approx. 50 scientists involved in research on Q10 and metabolic pathways as well as formula technologies with Q10
    First patent granted in 1994; 10 patents still active
    Efficacy of Q10 products tested on over 60,000 study participants
  • Lightbulb
    Around 40 scientific contributions
    Mass market pioneer: NIVEA first brand to launch an anti-aging product with pure, skin-identical coenzyme Q10 in 1998.
    Q10 range is NIVEA’s No. 1 Face Care range, available in over 60 countries today
    About 10 doctoral and final theses on Q10 and energy metabolism

    Continuous research with renowned scientific partners

    At Beiersdorf, we believe that innovation happens at the interfaces of disciplines and collaboration is key. As with Q10 research, not all details are yet known and much remains to be discovered. New findings about the coenzyme’s effectiveness are constantly explored, which are discussed in the International Coenzyme Q10 Association (for short, ICQA). This association was founded in September 1997 by well-known international scientists and medical doctors from a broad range of research fields and disciplines for regular exchange on the importance of Q10. Since the late 1990s, Beiersdorf scientists are closely connected with this circle of experts. In May of 2022, Beiersdorf hosted the ICQA’s congress , where, in addition to skin and aging, the influence of Q10 in various diseases was discussed in depth. 

    In a special collaboration with experts with from the DESY research center, the University of Hamburg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP), we provided visual evidence that Q10 actually arrives at its destination. Using the principle of X-ray fluorescence imaging, we succeeded for the first time in making the cellular uptake of added Q10 in skin cells visible and mapping the path of the coenzyme. Something, that had been scientifically unprecedented.

    Our intensive research and development work, fueled by the further development of scientific methods, continues to give us ever deeper insights into the biology of the skin – for ever more precise and better skin care. 


    • How was Coenzyme Q10 discovered?

      The American scientist Frederick L. Crane discovered and first described the coenzyme Q10 in 1957. Scientifically fascinated by this molecule, the British researcher Peter Mitchell revealed the importance of the body’s own substance a few years later and received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for it in 1978. Since then, new findings about how the coenzyme Q10 works and its efficacy have been obtained. 

       Beiersdorf scientists were among the first to investigate the effects of Q10 on the skin in the 1990s. In their intensive research on skin aging, they discovered the important role of coenzyme Q10 and deciphered its essential importance for the energy metabolism of human skin. Beiersdorf was the first to make the skin’s own Q10 available to the skin with skin care products. 

    • What exactly is Q10 and what does it do?

      Q10 is essential for life. Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance that is also called ubiquinol or ubiquinone, depending on the molecular state. These names are derived from the Latin “ubique” – which means “everywhere”. And the body’s own molecule really is everywhere: it is found in every single human cell and helps to generate about 95% of our total cellular energy, which is necessary for growth, protection and regeneration. 

      Without Q10, not much would function in the body – no cell can survive without it. As a coenzyme, Q10 is involved in many biochemical reactions in the body and plays a central role in the mitochondrial conversion of nutrients and oxygen into energy for the body’s cells. Therefore, it is very important for cell types that require energy to fuel high-performance organs such as the heart, kidneys, lungs, and also the skin, our largest organ.

      Q10 also functions as an antioxidant. This means that it protects our body from harmful free radicals, which can significantly accelerate skin aging, for example. 

    • How is Q10 produced?

      Our body itself is the most important producer of this essential coenzyme. Through modern fermentation processes the very same Q10 that occurs in the body can be industrially produced today. Additionally, certain food can also supply our body with Q10, e.g. meat, eggs, fish, nuts, potatoes, broccoli or spinach. 

    • How does Q10 work in the skin?

      Beyond its role in energy balance, Q10’s antioxidant activity is particularly important for the skin. Our skin is our body’s outermost barrier and fends off everything imaginable, from harmful microorganisms to air pollution and UV radiation. In the process, free radicals can be created, which can massively impair the structure and functionality of skin cells. Q10 can neutralize these free radicals and protect the skin from damage.  

      In cell culture experiments, our research has scientifically proven that Q10 addresses five hallmarks of skin aging and acts as:

      • Energy booster
      • Antioxidant
      • Cell renewal enhancer
      • Elastin and collagen booster
      • And rejuvenator of biologically aged skin cells (in vitro).

      Its multifaceted anti-aging power represents a holistic approach instead of addressing single skin aging targets. This makes Q10 unique and particularly valuable for skin care. 

    • Why do we need products with Coenzyme Q10?

      When we are young, the body’s Q10 level provides all cells with sufficient energy. Unfortunately, the Q10 level decreases with age. This gradual process already starts as early as at the age of 20 and is strongly influenced by our lifestyle habits, such as exposure to sunlight (UV radiation), stress etc. The skin is particularly affected by this: sunlight can namely drive the loss of Q10 even further and thus intensify the effect in the skin.

      To keep the skin young and active, it is important that it can constantly regenerate – for this it needs sufficient energy. This is where Q10 care products come in: they sustainably improve the energy supply, replenish the lost Q10 in skin cells and at the same time strengthen the skin’s antioxidant protective shield. The skin regains its physiological balance, can regenerate itself, and is more resistant overall. 

    • How long has Q10 been used as an active ingredient in skin care?

      Based on the pioneering groundwork by Beiersdorf scientists, NIVEA was the first brand to introduce Q10 skin care cream in 1998. This launch paved the way for active ingredient cosmetics.

      Since then, Beiersdorf has continuously optimized the Q10 products of its brands. Deeper understanding about cellular regulations in skin aging – also gained in exchange with scientists from other research areas – led to constant improvements in our Q10 active ingredient formulas.  

    • What’s the latest in Q10 research at Beiersdorf?

      With Beiersdorf’s long-standing cooperation partner Professor Luca Tiano and his research group from the University of Ancona, our scientists took anti-aging research another step forward. We were able to demonstrate for the first time, using a model, that the age-related depletion of Q10 in skin cells causally contributes to aging and also weakens connective tissue structures. And the study also shows that a Q10 deficit can actually be replenished and cells be biologically rejuvenated as a result (in vitro). We have thus been able to confirm Q10 as a key building block in the cellular skin aging process, understand the process of skin aging even better, and can thus influence the vitality of skin cells in a more targeted manner. (source)

      In another research collaboration, together with the DESY research center, the University of Hamburg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP), we provided visual evidence that Q10 actually arrives at its destination. Using the principle of X-ray fluorescence imaging, we succeeded for the first time in making the cellular uptake of added Q10 in skin cells visible and mapping the path of the coenzyme. Something, that had been scientifically unprecedented. (source