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Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) In Skin Care

Written by: Dr. Leslie Baumann

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Time to read 7 min

Skin care enthusiasts like me are always on the hunt for the next big ingredient that promises glowing, healthy skin. In my opinion as a dermatologist, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone, or PQQ, might become a new star in the skin care world. This blog will dive into what PQQ is, why it’s interesting, its benefits, safety, and how it stacks up against Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). We'll also discuss which Baumann Skin Types can benefit from PQQ and share some reviews. To find your Baumann Skin Type, take our quiz for free today with the button below! (Taking the quiz also earns you rewards point for our store!)

Antioxidant benefits comparable to CoQ10

Boosts cellular energy by helping produce more mitochondria

Anti-inflammatory and has barrier repair functions

Not commonly used in topical formulas (too new of an ingredient)

Naturally occurring compound in both plants and animals

What is PQQ

What is Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ)?

Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) is a small aromatic molecule found in various foods and even in our bodies. Scientists classify PQQ as a nutrient that helps with energy production and protection against cell damage. It plays a crucial role in our body's energy management and defense systems.

Why is PQQ Interesting?

PQQ is fascinating because it acts like a protector and energy booster for our cells. It shields cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals and supports the creation of new mitochondria. Mitochondria are like tiny batteries that power our cells. More and better-functioning mitochondria mean healthier and more energetic cells. This can help our skin look younger.


Another interesting feature of PQQ is that it is still rare to find in topical skin care products. Most studies have been about its use in supplements. So, if you're looking for products that are very much like PQQ, here are some of the best ones:

The Benefits of PQQ

PQQ has many functions and potential benefits in skin care. Science on this ingredient is still developing, but for now, some of the most notable skin care benefits of PQQ are:

  1. Powerful Antioxidant - PQQ acts as a powerful antioxidant, which means it protects your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can harm cells, leading to aging and various skin problems. By neutralizing these harmful molecules, PQQ helps keep your skin looking youthful and healthy. Studies have shown that PQQ can neutralize a wide range of free radicals, including those generated by UV radiation and pollution.
  2. Boosts Cellular Energy - PQQ helps increase the number of mitochondria in cells. Mitochondria are responsible for producing energy (ATP) in cells. More mitochondria mean more energy, which helps skin cells repair themselves faster and stay healthy. This can result in a brighter and healthier complexion. PQQ activates certain genes that promote mitochondrial biogenesis, leading to increased energy production within the skin cells.
  3. Reduces Inflammation -Inflammation can cause redness, swelling, and discomfort in the skin. PQQ has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce these symptoms. PQQ reduces inflammation by lowering the levels of molecules that promote inflammation, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP). This makes it beneficial for people with conditions like acne and rosacea.
  4. Improves Skin Barrier - The skin barrier is like a wall that keeps moisture in and harmful substances out. PQQ strengthens this barrier by promoting the production of ceramides and other lipids that are essential for maintaining a healthy skin barrier. This helps your skin stay hydrated and protected against environmental damage like pollution and UV rays. Improved skin barrier function reduces transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and enhances overall skin hydration.
PQQ side effects

PQQ Side effects

While PQQ is generally safe, some people might experience mild side effects like stomach discomfort or headaches, especially if they take high oral doses. These side effects are rare, but it’s always a good idea to start with a small amount and see how your body reacts.


Organizations like the National Institute of Health also classify Pyrroloquinoline quinone as a safe ingredient in skin care

PQQ Supplements

PQQ is available in supplement form and can be taken orally. Studies show that taking PQQ supplements can improve various health markers, including reducing inflammation and boosting mitochondrial function. For skin benefits, typical doses range from 10 to 20 mg per day. However, it’s best to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement to ensure it’s right for you.

PQQ vs CoQ10

PQQ vs CoQ10

Both PQQ and CoQ10 are popular for their skin benefits, but they have some subtle differences. These differences include:

  1. Structure and Function - PQQ helps create new mitochondria, while CoQ10 helps existing mitochondria work better. Think of PQQ as increasing the number of energy factories in your cells, while CoQ10 improves the efficiency of the existing factories.
  2. Antioxidant power - Both PQQ and CoQ10 are powerful antioxidants. However, PQQ is often highlighted for its ability to neutralize a broader range of free radicals more effectively. CoQ10 is still excellent for protecting skin cells from oxidative stress and is widely used in skin care for its proven benefits.
  3. Mitochondrial support - While both PQQ and CoQ10 support mitochondrial health, PQQ’s ability to create new mitochondria gives it an edge in boosting overall cellular energy. This increased energy production helps skin cells stay healthy and repair themselves more effectively.
  4. Overall Benefits - Both PQQ and CoQ10 can improve skin health. PQQ’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it effective for protecting against environmental damage and calming irritated skin. CoQ10 is well-known for maintaining skin collagen and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by supporting energy production in skin cells.
Which skin types can use PQQ

Which skin types can use PQQ?

The Baumann Skin Typing System classifies skin into 16 different types based on skin barrier function, sensitivity, aging, and pigmentation. Here’s who can benefit the most from PQQ:

  1. Dry skin Types - By aiding in the synthesis of essential lipids like ceramides, this ingredient can help dry skin types hold on to the moisture already in their skin.
  2. Sensitive Skin Types - Since this ingredient shuts down certain inflammation pathways, it is a good choice as a soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredient for sensitive skin types.
  3. Wrinkle Prone Skin Types - Wrinkle prone skin types can benefit from the antioxidant and cell energizing properties of PQQ. While it won't halt aging, it can play a supporting role in the right anti-aging regimen.

To find out if you're one of those skin types, take our quiz for free today!

Conclusion

Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) is a remarkable ingredient with a wide range of benefits for skin care. From its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to its unique ability to support mitochondrial health, PQQ can significantly enhance skin health and appearance. Whether you have dry, sensitive, or aging skin, PQQ could be the ingredient that makes a noticeable difference in your routine. Always remember to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement and consider taking the Baumann Skin Type quiz to find out if PQQ is a good fit for your skin’s specific needs.

Level up your skin care knowledge with medical advice from dermatologists

PQQ review

PQQ has received positive reviews from basically every study it has been featured in when it comes to skin care. International brands that sell this ingredient in topical products have found many positive reviewers as well.

PQQ health benefits

PQQ helps create more mitochondria in the cells, which results in more cellular energy, healthier cells, and a healthier body. Some other benefits include improving the skin barrier, fighting UV damage, and more.

Best References and Scientific Publications on Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ)

  1. Baumann L. Antiaging Ingredients in Ch. 37 of Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology Ed 3. (McGraw Hill 2022)
  2. Baumann, L. Ch. Cosmeceuticals and cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015)
  3. Akagawa, M., Nakano, M., & Ikemoto, K. (2016). Recent progress in studies on the health benefits of pyrroloquinoline quinone. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry80(1), 13-22.
  4. Puehringer, S., Metlitzky, M., & Schwarzenbacher, R. (2008). The pyrroloquinoline quinone biosynthesis pathway revisited: a structural approach. BMC biochemistry9, 1-11.
  5. Harris, C. B., Chowanadisai, W., Mishchuk, D. O., Satre, M. A., Slupsky, C. M., & Rucker, R. B. (2013). Dietary pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) alters indicators of inflammation and mitochondrial-related metabolism in human subjects. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry24(12), 2076-2084.
  6. Misra, H. S., Rajpurohit, Y. S., & Khairnar, N. P. (2012). Pyrroloquinoline-quinone and its versatile roles in biological processes. Journal of biosciences37, 313-325.
  7. Draelos, Z. D., McDANIEL, D. H., Yoelin, S., Pot, S., Sotir, O., & Nelson, D. B. (2023). Evaluation of a New, Advanced Antioxidant Containing Topical Allyl Pyrroloquinoline Quinone: Analysis of Antioxidant Properties and Visible Effects in Subjects with Facial Photodamage. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology16(4), 53.
  8. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA); Turck D, Bresson JL, Burlingame B, Dean T, Fairweather-Tait S, Heinonen M, Hirsch-Ernst KI, Mangelsdorf I, McArdle HJ, Naska A, Neuhäuser-Berthold M, Nowicka G, Pentieva K, Sanz Y, Siani A, Sjödin A, Stern M, Tomé D, Vinceti M, Willatts P, Engel KH, Marchelli R, Pöting A, Poulsen M, Schlatter JR, de Sesmaisons A, Van Loveren H. Safety of pyrroloquinoline quinone disodium salt as a novel food pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 258/97. EFSA J. 2017 Nov 20;15(11):e05058. doi: 10.2903/j.efsa.2017.5058. PMID: 32625350; PMCID: PMC7010138.
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