Anyone looking to restore or prolong the youthful and radiance of the skin has likely run into a scope of products when it comes to finding the right products to get the job done. Many ingredients claim to improve skin elasticity and speed up the regeneration of cells. However, there is a new compound that has caught our attention as of late: Idebenone. Idebenone is nothing new as it was first developed to improve memory and cognitive function in those with Alzheimer’s Disease and other cognitive defects. So, what exactly is Idebenone?
What is Idebenone
Idebenone is an oil soluble synthetic compound that mimics the molecular structure of Coenzyme Q10, but at a lower molecular weight. Coenzyme Q10 is a natural compound that is produced within the human body. Idebenone was initially created by a Japanese pharmaceutical company as a potential therapy for Alzheimer's Disease. However, the lack of proven results, caused the indication to be cancelled. Idebenone is now used to treat a variety of diseases, including heart and liver diseases. In recent years, we have seen a new light on the use of Idebenone in the skincare industry, especially in photodamage related hyperpigmentation treatment.
What are the Benefits of Idebenone
Help reduce damage from free radicals
Idebenone is an antioxidant that specifically targets free radicals known as reactive oxidative species (oxygen radicals) which may cause damage to DNA, RNA, and proteins. It neutralizes and stabilizes these unstable free radicals within our cell powerhouse called the mitochondria. As a result, Idebenone is able to limit skin damage caused by the activities of free radicals, preventing premature signs of aging. Unlike most antioxidants that can only cancel out one free radical per molecule, Idebenone is able to handle multiple free radicals at a time. Isn’t that cool?
In a study performed to measure the protective capacity of Idebenone against oxidative stress, a randomized trial was done using two different concentrations of Idebenone (either 0.5% or 1.0%). After 6 weeks of use, those who used the 1% formula showed a 33% improvement in photodamaged skin and for those who used the 0.5% formula, a 30% improvement in photodamaged skin was observed.
The molecular structure of Idebenone has many similarities with other melanin inhibiting compounds such as Hydroquinone. Therefore, Idebenone has the ability to interfere with the production of Tyrosinase, an enzyme that stimulates the production of melanin and skin pigmentation. In a study done to screen the depigmenting activity of Idebenone, it was shown that the hyperpigmentation inhibition by Idebenone was stronger than the use of Hydroquinone but with lesser cell toxicity effects.
Idebenone prevents the release of inflammatory markers in the body that stimulates an inflammatory response that causes symptoms of irritation and redness. Studies have shown that Idebenone is able to interfere with the early stages of the inflammatory pathway, thus preventing inflammatory conditions in those with highly sensitive skin.
Side Effects of Idebenone
While topical application of Idebenone is generally suitable for all skin types, a few have encountered redness, irritation, and stinging when using Idebenone-based products; however, these reactions are rare. It is always recommended that you do a patch test on your skin for at least 24 hours before proceeding to apply on your face. Since there is limited research, we recommend that you consult your dermatologist if you have any history of skin disease(s).
How Use Idebenone
Idebenone can be found in lotions, serum and cream formulations together with other ingredients such as Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, Peptides and Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF). It is generally safe to be used twice daily.
Just like any antioxidant, the effectiveness of Idebenone reduces over time when exposed to UV rays. Therefore, to avoid oxidation of your product, make sure to avoid placing your skincare products under direct sunlight and apply sunscreen when you are outdoors.
In terms of pregnancy and breast-feeding, there is not enough research to prove the safety of using Idebenone either orally or topically during these periods. Therefore, it is best to either avoid the use of products containing Idebenone completely or consult your doctor for further information.
Best Products with Idebenone
Formulated with 1000ppm Idebenone and 20% Blackberry Complex, this bottle of fragrance-free serum is packed with a choke-full of antioxidants to give your skin a boost of radiance and rejuvenation.
If you’re looking for a cream that is lightweight but has all the important nutrients for healthy, glowing skin, this Mary & May Idebenone Blackberry Intense Cream is your affordable anti-aging cream for a simple skincare routine.
Laguens, M., Zeitune, G., Reigosa, M., Cebrian, J., Labarta., V., Alminana, N. Screening of depigmenting activity of Idebenone. July 2008. Medicina Cutánea Ibero-latino-americana 36(4):183-199. Retrieved on July 21, 2022.
McDaniel, D. Antioxidants compared in a new protocol to measure protective capacity against oxidative stress-part II. March 2004. Journey of the American Academy of Dermatology 50(3) doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2003.10.125. Retrieved on July 21, 2022.
Montenegro., L., Turnaturi., R., Parenti, C., Pasquinucci, L. Idebenone: Novel Strategies to Improve Its Systemic and Local Efficacy. Nanomaterials (Basel). 2018 Feb; 8(2):87. Published online 2018 Feb 5. doi:10.3390/nano8020087