Squalane and its better-known relative squalene are on the top of the list for skincare enthusiasts. It’s an ingredient that seems to work well with many kinds of skincare products and for many skin-types. It’s a natural antioxidant that keeps skin supple, youthful, and hydrated.
But where does squalane come from and what are the best sources for it? Why do some products contain squalenewhile others contain squalane? We dive into the science behind this skin rejuvenating molecule so you can be an expert too!
What is Squalane
To get squalane, we must begin with squalene. Squalene is a hydrocarbon (an organic compound made up of only hydrogen and carbon molecules). It’s found in fish oils and plant oils. Human skin sebum contains around 13% squalene. Squalane is a saturated derivative of squalene and found in these sources.
Squalane vs Squalene
It’s more likely that you’ve heard the term squalene more than squalane.
However, understanding what makes the two compounds different (and the same) is important. Both squalene and squalane are used as highly effective natural emollients and antioxidants in skin care products.
Squalane is a squalene derivative. Squalane is a saturated form of squalene in which double bonds have been removed.
It’s much lighter (and therefore better for acne-prone skin) and has a longer shelf life than squalene. That’s because it doesn’t oxidize when exposed to air, making it the better choice for everyday skincare products.
Squalene must go through a hydrogenation process to be converted to squalane, otherwise it will oxidize. Squalane will have a softer, thinner, and gentler feel on the skin compared to squalene which gives it a better experience in skincare along with a longer shelf life.
Squalane is Better for Everyday Skincare
Hearing that an ingredient is a derivative might make it sound inferior or less natural. However, there are many ingredients which perform much better and can even be safer in a derivative form or even synthetic form.
Even though squalane is a derivative of squalene, it’s proven to be a superior ingredient. Not just for its feel and touch, but also for its ability to stay fresh in your products longer.
When we compare the benefits of squalane vs squalene, squalane has more benefits overall when it comes to everyday use.
Squalane Benefits for Skin
Squalane is sought after for these top benefits:
Soothing for Sensitive Skin
Balances Chronic Skin Issues
Rejuvenates Cell Health
Smoothing Textured Skin
Natural Balance from Squalane
Squalane is the ingredient you need if smooth and softer skin is your main goal. It’s often used in skin care products because it is a great moisturizer - the sebum is naturally about 12% natural squalene in your skin.
This makes it a compatible ingredient for almost every skin-type and explains its popularity in many different types of skin care products. Natural squalene production in skin peaks during the teen years and the production slows down between the ages of 20 and 30 for most people.
Preserving Youth and Hydrating the Skin
Using products with squalane can be helpful when it comes to keep the skin looking youthful and feeling healthy. It’s an essential ingredient for providing hydration and elasticity to our skin since it mimics our natural sebum.
Our skin absorbs squalane into its deepest layers quickly and without leaving behind a residue. This emollient action restores suppleness and skin flexibility while also helping to seal in moisture.
Because of its rich moisturizing properties, squalane is used in everything from lip gloss to sunscreen.
Soothing Benefits for Sensitive Skin
The part of the scientific community that focuses on skin physiology has used squalane to explore new treatments for skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis.
SeabuckWonders uses olive oil based squalane in our Enhydro Calm Oil Serum. The blend was created with sensitive skin types in mind, so we knew that plant-based squalane would be the natural choice for this product.
The way squalane mimics the natural lipids in our skin makes it safe and soothing for nearly all skin-types. It also helps by soothing inflammation and maintaining the skin barrier, hydrating even the driest skin.
Squalane also prevents the loss of water in the skin, making it the perfect choice for trapping moisture in the skin where it belongs.
Support for UV Stressed Skin
There is some evidence that squalane may fight free radicals in the skin caused by UV rays. Along with the soothing properties we just mentioned, squalane might be able to reduce the appearance of premature aging due to sun and UV exposure.
Along with using sunscreen daily to protect your skin all year round, adding skincare products with squalane and other skin building ingredients is a good idea. This will ensure that your skin stays healthy and protected.
The ingredient is at the core of many well-known luxury skincare products, but the ingredient itself has humble origins.
Squalane products were made almost exclusively from shark liver for many years. In more recent years, the ingredient is more commonly made from plant-based sources, such as rice or olive oil.
Plant based sources of squalane generally have many other benefits on top of those from the ingredient on its own.
Who is Squalene Right For
It’s similarity to our skin’s natural lipids makes squalane the perfect companion for most skin-types.
Skin-types that can Benefit from Squalane:
Safe for All Skin-Types
How to Use Squalane
Squalane will generally be found in a serum or oil form. Layering your squalane serum or oil product before applying a heavier cream or lotion is recommended for most skin-types.
Enhydro Calm Serum with olive-based squalane should be used on clean skin. Cleanse first, gently dry the skin and add a few drops of oil to fingertips.
Massage into the face, neck, décolletage, allowing a few minutes for the serum to be absorbed into skin. For drier skin types, add a light layer of Sea Buckthorn Facial Cream to seal in moisture and protect the top layers of skin.
Kim, S. K., & Karadeniz, F. (2012). Biological importance and applications of squalene and squalane. Advances in food and nutrition research, 65, 223–233. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-416003-3.00014-7
Huang, Z. R., Lin, Y. K., & Fang, J. Y. (2009). Biological and pharmacological activities of squalene and related compounds: potential uses in cosmetic dermatology. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 14(1), 540–554. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules14010540