What Are the Uses of Idebenone? - The Dermatology Review

What Are the Uses of Idebenone?

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09.28.18 AD DISCLOSURE

What Is Idebenone?

Idebenone is a synthetic analog for Coenzyme Q10 that is used in skincare formulations to help reduce the visible signs of aging. Idebenone is used for its comparable abilities to Coenzyme Q10, which may help to improve the appearance of aging skin through its antioxidant effects, protecting the skin from damage. Synthetic ingredients often have a bad reputation in the skincare industry as it is not considered natural. The idea that natural is better is appealing; however, it is not always true. Many natural ingredients that are derived from the plant contain many different compounds that can interact with other products and cause irritation. Synthetic ingredients are often formulated as identical to the natural form, avoiding both impurities and the price. They also reduce the burden on the environment as they don’t deplete natural resources. 

Idebenone is considered a natural identical or an ingredient that is formulated to be identical with the naturally occurring ingredient. This means that the benefits are often the same. In terms of benefits, Idebenone seems to produce the same antioxidant effects as Coenzyme Q10, with the only difference being that it has lower water solubility and slightly higher affinity for lipids. 

Idebenone was initially created by a Japanese pharmaceutical company to treat the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly the deterioration of memory. While its effects on Alzheimer’s patients were limited, some pharmaceutical companies continue to test the chemical’s effectiveness on other cognitive and neurological diseases. More recently, skincare companies have turned their attention to Idebenone and its power as an antioxidant and a free radical fighter as it is believed to be safer than other human-made skincare ingredients.

Idebenone

the good: Idebenone may have antioxidant abilities that help to minimize the visible effects of free radical damage, often associated with aging.

the not so good: Slightly different structure to its naturally occurring model, Coenzyme Q10.

Who is it for?All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it. 

Synergetic ingredients:Works well with most ingredients 

Keep an eye on:Further research into its use in skincare.

How Does Idebenone Benefit the Skin?

Anti-aging
Idebenone is mainly used for the potential anti-aging benefits to the skin. As an analog to the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10, it is believed to help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles through. Antioxidants work by reducing the imbalance of free radicals in the skin. Free radicals are molecules that damage the skin, collagen, and reduce elasticity. Free radicals are produced during a process called oxidative stress, a natural process in the body that occurs when the skin is exposed to UV rays, pollution, and other environmental factors.  An imbalance in the level of free radicals in the body is often associated with aging. Idebenone is designed to reduce the effects of free radicals on the skin.

Irritation
Idebenone, through its antioxidant action, is likely to help reduce irritation and soothe the appearance of redness as it may help to reduce the stress load on the skin. This is why Idebenone can also be found in many formulations for sensitive skin types. 

Idebenone’s use in skincare formulations is relatively new and hasn’t been fully explored. Recent studies have found that it may not dissolve fully in water-based formulations and may have trouble being absorbed when taken orally

Is Idebenone Safe?

As Idebenone hasn’t been used in skincare formulations for a long time, it is not a particularly well-researched ingredient. It is generally considered to be safe for use. Few people have experienced redness, irritation, and stinging when used as an Idebenone-based product; however, this reaction is rare. If you’re considering the use of this product and have sensitive skin, you may want to test a small patch of skin first. It is also crucial to note that Idebenone, like any antioxidant, will reduce in effectiveness over time when exposed to UV rays. To avoid this, make sure to keep your product away from direct sunlight and ensure you use a sunscreen when you are likely to be in the sun. 

References:
Therapeutic Goods Administration, ‘Australian Pubic Assessment Report for Idebenone’, Australian Government.
Montenegro, L, Turnaturi, R, Parenti, C & Pasquinucci, L, 2018. ‘Idebenone: Novel Strategies to Improve Its Systemic and Local Efficacy’, Nanomaterials, vol.8, is. 2, pp. 87.

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