What Is Squalane And How Can It Benefit My Skin?

I am a big fan of switching up your skincare to work with the seasons. So as we move from summer through to winter, I want to chat about squalane (or is it squalene?) because it has the potential to feel like a warm electric blanket for your face.

And you know what? Your face may never want to leave its new, comfy and warm cocoon when you start using this ingredient. Especially if you are prone to dry or dehydrated skin. 

Squalane VS Squalene

Firstly, squalane is when squalene goes through hydrogenation processing. Which means it turns squalene from an unsaturated oil (very unstable) into a saturated oil – which is much better for our skin. This is because our skin doesn’t produce saturated fatty acids on its own so it can always use a helping hand in this department to better its health.

Squalane also = a longer shelf life. The two words are used interchangeably though, which can be a little confusing however the word squalane is often the word that you’ll find on the ingredient list.  

Daniel Isaacs, Director of Research at Medik8 (who you can also catch on our podcast here) breaks it down further adding “the difference between squalene and squalane is reactivity; squalene has reactive double bonds which in skincare can oxidise, block pores and cause blemishes."

"Squalane, however, is entirely unreactive on the skin and non-comedogenic. It is able to penetrate into the natural lipids of the skin, absorbing effortlessly and replenishing the skin’s natural barrier.” 

Actually, it's worth mentioning Medik8 have a new squalane-based lip balm which is incredibly hydrating, without being sticky and gives your lips a glow if you want to go sans colour.

Where Does Squalane Come From?

 Squalene is naturally produced by the sebaceous glands and something we naturally have in our skin. “ The sebum that our sebaceous glands produce is made up of triglycerides and fatty acids (58%), wax esters (26%) and squalene (12%) along with esters (4.5%),” Daniel says. 

Generally there are two different sources where squalane comes from: one that is derived from shark liver oil (generally squalene) and the other being botanical sources such as olives, wheat germ, sugar cane, rice bran and other plants (squalane).

Honestly though, in this day and age most brands are using plant-derived squalane since it’s the more sustainable and ethical option (not to mention all the other concerns i.e mercury and additional pollutants) although it still pays to do your own research before you buy.

How Does Squalane Benefit The Skin?

As a natural emollient, squalane is additionally an ingredient that can help prevent fine lines, wrinkles while easing the effects of dry skin by keeping our skin barrier hydrated and protected. Plus it’s been proven to fight free-radical damage as an antioxidant.  

Unlike other oils squalane has a lighter texture on the skin which helps it to better penetrate. Plus, it’s incredibly gentle making it perfect for all skin types. Especially those who have an impaired skin barrier or where trans-epidermal water loss is an issue. It’s also:

  • A strong, natural antioxidant

  • Doesn’t form a barrier on the skin like other oils/moisturisers

  • Offers incredible hydration for all skin conditions including those with eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis

  • Helps regulate excess sebum production

  • Is gentle enough for use around the eye and lip areas; and

  • Can be used on the ends of your hair!

My Top Squalane Product Picks:

I love how lightly this oil glides onto my skin. A little definitely goes a long way and as it’s not heavy or really oily it makes for an oil that can easily be used under makeup in the morning for a seriously dewy effect. An oil to consider if you’re sensitive and have found other oils break you out.

Another 100% plant derived squalane that you can use instead of moisturiser and still get bang for your buck in the hydration department. In fact, if you’re a fan of products by The Ordinary you can grab this as the perfect oil to add to your routine. It layers well with their serums and can be mixed into a moisturiser for a killer hydration boost – especially handy as we come into winter.

This is the serum to use when you don’t have time to layer a gazillion products or really just can’t be bothered. It’s an all-in-one and while squalene is one of the main ingredients, it’s also packed with niacinamide, vitamins C, E and hyaluronic acid so can help with ageing, pigmentation, dullness, pigmentation and even acne. It is a little pricier though, but for one cosmeceutical that will do everything it pretty much pays for itself. Plus, think of all the extra room you’ll have!