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Squalane in Skincare: What’s All About?

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If you follow the beauty world closely, then you have probably heard about squalane. It’s so-called one of “the lightest facial oils” that doesn’t grease the skin at all! In fact, it’s a multi-tasking moisturizer, which literally feeds the skin. Below you’ll learn all about this phenomenon and whether it’s actually accurate.

Squalane and squalene

In articles about cosmetics, you’ll come across two terms: squalane and squalene. But what’s the difference?

Our sebaceous glands are responsible for sebum production which has the role to protect and hydrate the skin. One of the three integral parts of sebum is squalene. On the other hand, squalane is a hydrogenated, stabilized version of natural squalene.


Squalene is a liquid carbon dioxide that occurs naturally in shark liver and human sebum. It plays a vital role in protecting the body and skin from harmful external factors. But, its production significantly decreases after the age of 30, which makes the skin dry. Still, we don’t use it in cosmetic products because of its pronity to oxidation. 

Squalane is a squalene derivative. When we speak about cosmetics, we’re talking about squalane, which has no odor and lasts longer than squalene. Squalane’s function is to improve the absorption of creams and lotions that we apply to the skin, prevent moisture loss from and fight wrinkles. Hence, squalane can help maintain hydration and a healthy skin appearance.

History of squalane 

Although not so famous, it’s very well known — the practice of deriving squalane from shark liver. For decades, as many as 50 species of sharks were hunted and killed. This practice has caused a lot of controversy in the past. Fortunately, over time, most people have become more aware of nature. They began to think about the process of making their cosmetics and what precisely is in them. Even the greatest cosmetics giants have turned to more humane, herbal alternatives, extracting squalane from plants, such as olives, sugar cane, amaranth seeds, rice bran, wheat germ, fungi, and date palm. Still, some brands keep extracting it from shark’s livers. For this reason, campaigns like Oceana’s 2008 push for the cosmetic industry to stop using shark liver oil exist, and consumers are joining in urging the cosmetics industry to implement stronger labeling regulations around the sourcing of squalane. My advice is you pay much attention to the source of squalane in your products and avoid using products that contain squalane derived from shark’s liver. Please!

Is squalane an oil?

Generally speaking, face oils are favorites in the field of facial care. For centuries, face and body oils hold the title of the precious elixirs of beauty. It’s assumed to provide our skin with nutrients and vitamins. Also, it’s supposed to give it moisture and restore the defense mechanism. But how is that possible?

Oil composition is very like emulsifiers in the skin. Thanks to that similarity, it’s well accepted, and the outer layer of the skin absorbs it entirely. In this way, the skin’s lipid film is hydrated and strengthened, helping preserve moisture. Yet is squalane suitable for people with oily skin? The famous opinion is that a person with oily skin should avoid oil-based products. According to it, oil-based products could make the pores even bigger. Thus, if a person has oily skin, they should use water-based products to avoid oil from entering the pores.

Caroline Holmberg, a skin-therapist from “Polytechnic for skincare and spa,” based in Stockholm says:


“Facial oils are useful. You need to pick the right one for your skin type and needs. You can also choose a serum instead of oil. The serum you take needs to have active ingredients. Active ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin than a facial cream. I believe it’s a myth that oils make the skin greasy. Because if you feel that way, you have the wrong oil for your needs. Something that also is important to know about oils is that some oils clog the pores. That might not be so good. For example, coconut oil clogs the pores, and that can cause a pimple.” 

Even for those who choose to avoid facial skin oils, squalane is the favorite product. What is so atypical about it? Squalane isn’t precisely an oil but an oil derivative. That why it feels light on the skin. Besides, the skin absorbs it quickly, so it doesn’t leave a greasy sensation.

“Some people love the sensation of oil on their face. And some prefer a lighter feeling. I have been using both face oils and serums. I favor a serum more than a random face oil. A serum is going to penetrate more profound. But, I would always recommend argon oil and squalane. It is not too heavy, not too light, making it perfect to use on all skin types. In the winter season, skin gets damaged because of the cold. If you use squalane, it could be a good complement in your skin routine,” Caroline said. In conclusion, while oil-based products aren’t suitable for all skin types, squalane is.

The benefits of squalane in skincare

Squalane is one of the most popular ingredients in skincare lately, and with good reason. Many types of research are the testimony of the same.

“Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Squalane and Squalene” is published in the International Journal of Toxicology in 1982. The study showed that squalane isn’t toxic, and it doesn’t irritate the skin. 

Moreover, squalane creates a barrier between the skin and external influences. So, it softens skin, making it feel and look healthier. Because it can penetrate deep into the skin, it can improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles with continued use. Also, it restores the skin to what it originally contained, meaning that the natural balance of the skin is recovered. If a person has dry skin, it won’t be so prone to drying out anymore. If a person has oily skin, it will become less oily — it works like magic!

In 2012, a document “Biological Importance and Applications of Squalene and Squalane” with several studies showed that both squalane and squalene have anticancer, antioxidant, detoxifier, emollient, and skin hydrating characteristics. Oils containing unsaturated fatty acids are likely to get wasted. Those containing saturated fatty acids are resistant to free radicals, this meaning they won’t become rancid. Squalane is such oil, making it an ideal ingredient in skincare products. It’s transparent, odorless, and has antibacterial action and it can be used to diminish seborrheic and atopic dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, dry skin, and fine lines.

How to use it?

You can use it in the morning and evening routine, ideally is to apply it after water-based products. It’s easy to combine it with all active ingredients in cosmetics. Since is not an irritant, it’s possible to use it for the sensitive skin around the eyes too. Plus, it’s suitable for lip care. You can also add a drop of squalane to your liquid powder for extra hydration and a healthy glow. Also, if you apply it to hair, it will make it shinier and protect it from breakage, helping maintain the hair naturally soft. And you know something? Because it absorbs quickly, it’s excellent for nail care too. An ingredient that has so many purposes can’t miss from your routine.



As we age, our skin becomes less elastic and soft and loses that familiar youthful glow. The squalane can partially restore the degree of skin moisture and the level of fatty acids—that why it’s a desirable ingredient in anti-aging products.

More active ingredients in skincare:

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