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You may have recently come across a new artificial antioxidant ingredient called idebenone. It's a derivative of a natural antioxidant called Coenzyme Q10 (also known as ubiquinone) which is produced within the body. As interest in idebenone has increased, cosmetic manufacturers have begun to include the ingredient within their products. But, does idebenone actually work to reduce signs of premature aging with the same efficacy as proven antioxidants such as vitamin C?

Let's look at the evidence for using idebenone in cosmetic formulations to determine if it’s something that you should consider using.

Clinical Data To Support Idebenone  

Idebenone was introduced to the public in a product called Prevage, which is marketed by Allergan. Prevage is advertised as an antioxidant-based anti-wrinkle formulation. The evidence to prove idebenone's efficacy involves a study which seemed to prove that idebenone was more effective as an antioxidant than vitamin C. And while this may well be true, this particular study had 3 significant limitations.  

First, it was conducted using a very small test group of participants (30). Statistically, the results were inconclusive. Second, the study compared equal concentrations of idebenone and vitamin C (1%). In effective topical formulations, vitamin C is used in higher concentrations (at least 5% and as high as 20%) - you have to compare like with like. Third, there is substantial evidence that products which include a blend of multiple antioxidants (for example, vitamins C, E, and ferulic acid) are more potent than those relying just on idebenone.

This is not to suggest that idebenone is an ineffective compound. In fact, the limited data that exists implies that it works as advertised. However, there is a significant lack of data to support the early test results and more studies are needed.  

Skincare is About More Than Antioxidants  

While antioxidants are an important part of any skincare regimen, it's important to remember that they're not the only ingredient that contributes to healthy and youthful skin. Gentle cleansers, topical exfoliants, retinoids and well formulated sunscreens should also be integrated into your routine.

So, what does this mean for products that include idebenone? As an antioxidant, the compound shows promise in slowing the oxidation process of free radicals, and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. However, until more data is available, the results should be considered inconclusive. What's more, as a shield from UV radiation, tests have shown idebenone to be ineffective.

If you are looking for an antioxidant, look for products containing Vitamin C, green tea extract, Vitamin E or a host of other effective ingredients. The addition of idebenone should be considered a bonus, but not to the exclusion of other tried and proven solutions.  

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed] 


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