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Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Coenzyme Q10

Since their introduction to the Cosmetic Industry in the early nineties, alpha hydroxy acids and later Coenzyme Q10 have taken skin care to new heights. Finally, here was something that could do what was promised, something that could actually improve the skin instead of just temporarily affecting the way it looked. This page will provide you with some information on alpha hydroxy acids and CoE Q10.


A few years before alpha-hydroxy acids were used, tretinoin (Retin-A) was making headlines with its ability to fade wrinkles and age spots, but there were many drawbacks. Persons on Retin-A experienced extreme irritation, redness, and dryness. Furthermore, because of increased sun sensitivity, users had to either stay out of the sun entirely, or wear a sunblock whenever they went outdoors.

With the introduction of alpha hydroxy acids, people who wanted the benefits of Retin-A, without the side effects turned to alpha hydroxy acids. However, because research of the acids was still in its elementary stage, cautions were not taken in the monitoring of products that contained alpha hydroxy acids. With the increased demand of the AHA's, cosmetic companies were producing their own alpha hydroxy formulations as fast as they could. Problems began to arise when products that were unsafe began to burn, and sometimes even scar, the consumers.

Many companies created creams with high concentrations of these acids-up to 50% or higher, or they would create mixtures of various alpha hydroxy acids, which would increase the acidity level. At these unsafe levels, alpha hydroxy acids can damage rather than help the skin. With continued research, experts determined that glycolic and lactic acids (two types of alpha hydroxy acids), were safe in cosmetic products as long as they're used in concentrations of no higher than 10%, and with a pH level of no less than 3.5 (to help counteract the acidity level).

What are Alpha Hydroxy Acids and how do they work?

Alpha-hydroxy acids are naturally occurring acids, derived from the sugars in particular plants.Some examples are Glycolic Acid (Sugar Cane), Lactic Acid (Milk), Tartaric Acid (Grapes), Citric Acid (Citrus Fruits), Malic Acid (Apples), and Mandelic Acid (Bitter Almonds). These acids were able to improve the skin because they had molecules small enough to penetrate the outer (horny) layer of the skin, and reach the lower (dermis) layer. Also, they work by dissolving the cement that holds dead skin cells together, increasing cell turnover, and sloughing off dull, rough skin on the surface.

Eventually, this results in softer, smoother skin, faded wrinkles, lightened age spots, and decreased blemishes. One alpha hydroxy acid, Mandelic acid, has been shown to be an particularly helpful acid. With its anti-bacterial properties, mandelic acid, is able to control mild to moderate acne. Above all, though, is the acid's ability to fade dermal melasma, a condition that is often resistant to topical treatments such as Retin-A or bleaching creams.

Another added benefit of alpha hydroxy acids is the way they can improve the skin's ability to retain moisture. Most of the skin's moisture is lost through the cracks of the dead skin cells on the outer layer. By removing the dead skin, water can not be easily lost through the cracks.

What precautions should you take with Alpha Hydroxy Acids?

The most important precaution you can take with alpha hydroxy acids is to know the percent and pH level of the product. Anything with an acid percentage of 10% should be prescribed or administered by a dermatologist. Also, the pH level should be no less than 3, and the more acid in a product, the higher the pH should be. Even at lower levels, though, some alpha hydroxy acids can be irritating, depending on how sensitive your skin is. Also, darker skin types should avoid most alpha hydroxy acids, due to the risk of hyperpigmentation.

Coenzyme Q10

CoQ10 has at least two important roles in the body. First, it is one of the essential cogs in the biochemical machinery that produces biological energy (ATP) inside the cells. Second, CoQ10 is an antioxidant. It helps neutralize harmful free radicals, which are one of the causes of aging. Under perfect conditions, the body can produce as much CoQ10 as it needs. However, various factors, such as aging, stress and some medications, can lower the levels of CoQ10 in the body. As a result, the ability of cells to withstand stress and regenerate declines. Unfortunately, the levels of CoQ10 in the body almost inevitably decline with age. In fact, CoQ10 is regarded as one of the most accurate biomarkers of ageing since its decline correlates so well with the aging process. In some studies, rodents treated with supplemental CoQ10 lived up to 30 percent longer than their untreated counterparts. The effects of CoQ10 supplements on human longevity remain unknown. On the other hand, it was proven useful in treating certain human diseases, including heart failure and hypertension.

What can CoQ10 do for your skin? Theoretically speaking, CoQ10 (in a skin cream, for example) can be helpful. In most people over thirty, levels of CoQ10 in the skin are below optimum, resulting in lesser ability to produce collagen, elastin and other important skin molecules. Besides, CoQ10-depleted skin may be more prone to the damage by free radicals, which are particularly abundant in the skin since it is exposed to the elements. Thus, CoQ10 may boost skin repair and regeneration and reduce free radical damage. Furthermore, CoQ10 is a small molecule that can relatively easily penetrate into skin cells.

Wrinkles appear when skin loses its elasticity. This is due to decreased collagen production and collagen crosslinking. Everyday life, cell metabolism, exposure to sun and other environmental factors, toxins, cigarette smoke - all result in production of free radicals. Those over-active pesky molecules or atoms have odd electrons on their orbits and try to find a balance. They either give away the odd electron or find a pair for it, thus making another molecule unstable, turning it into another free radical. While this process is natural and unavoidable as a part of metabolism, too many free radicals cause dangerous chain reactions that destroy cellular compounds and can damage DNA, proteins and lipids (fats). When it comes to skin ageing, free radicals interfere with collagen production and cause premature ageing.

Coenzyme Q10 has exceptional antioxidant properties. Studies show that it can effectively counteract free radical damage and provide significant protection against UVA-induced depletion of cell membrane. In other words, it will help prevent damage to collagen and elastin production process and so help you avoid wrinkles.