You may not have heard of Q10 before, so consider this your crash course in one of the smartest ingredients in modern skin care. You can find it stateside a few places (including the drugstore), but in Tokyo, it is everywhere. During a recent trip to Japan, it was impossible for me to set foot in a pharmacy or beauty store and miss the multitude of sheet masks, serums, and creams with “Q10” emblazoned on the packaging. “CoQ10 or Q10 is short for coenzyme 10 and it is also known as ubiquinone or vitamin Q,” explains Dendy Engelman, MD. “CoQ10 is an oil-based vitamin substance that is found in the mitochondria (our cell’s energy centers) and it is also an antioxidant involved a number of biological functions, including helping to produce energy, neutralizing free radicals, and keeping cells both inside the body and in the skin healthy.” When the sun’s UV rays hit your skin, free radicals are released that oxidize skin cells and lead to photo-aging symptoms, like skin discoloration and brown spots. Studies have shown that Q10 is effective in slowing down these visible signs of UV damage. Once Q10 is absorbed through the skin, it penetrates and nixes the formation of oxidative stress — the not-so-secret culprit of premature aging and skin cancer. So if Q10 is basically the skincare equivalent of the over-achieving high schooler, why isn't everyone obsessed with it already? “In a nutshell, infatuation with skin care and beauty in the Asian markets leads populations to spend twice as much, if not more, on skin care versus the American consumer,” says Shereene Idriss, MD, at Wexler Dermatology. “That being said, the Asian consumer is much more aware of the product’s ingredients and what each component achieves — Asian skin-care brands tend to spend more on R&D on products than their U.S. and European counterparts. Therefore, the U.S. and Europe are still catching up to Asian skin-care brands, which are probably 10 to 15 years ahead of the game.” We're sure we'll be seeing more and more Q10 products hit the shelves in years to come, but there are already some early adaptors on the market in the U.S. Engelman recommends Indie Lee’s Co Q10 Toner, Skin Inc.’s collagen-boosting serum, and drugstore mainstay Eucerin’s Q10 line.