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What is Squalane and What Are Its Skincare Benefits?

Few skincare ingredients in recent years have gotten as much buzz as squalane. This fan-favorite ingredient is popping up in skincare formulations more and more, and people can’t get enough. Why? Because it’s ultra-hydrating, healing, and can be used on skin, hair, and body. 

From its benefits for the skin to the difference between ‘squalane’ and ‘squalene,’ here’s everything you need to know about this powerhouse ingredient. 

What is squalane oil?

Squalane is a moisturizing ingredient or emollient commonly used in skincare products. It’s derived from squalene (more on that later), which is an oily substance found in people, plants, and animals. In humans, squalene is naturally produced by the sebaceous glands, making up around 10 to 12% of the skin’s oil. 

Squalene was first isolated from shark liver oil (the richest natural source of squalene). However, for ethical and environmental reasons, most skincare brands these days source their squalene from plant sources such as sugarcane, rice bran, or olives. 

Before buying squalane oil or a product with squalane, you can check with the brand or manufacturer to see where they source theirs.

What is the difference between squalane and squalene?

The difference between squalane and squalene can get confusing, so bear with us: 

Squalene, as we’ve mentioned, is a naturally occurring lipid substance. It also is the main component of sebum, the oily substance our skin produces to moisturize, prevent water loss, and protect from outside aggressors. We’re born with an abundant supply of squalene in our skin; however, just like other substances such as collagen, our squalene supplies decrease as we age. 

So why don’t we just apply squalene to the skin? In its natural form, squalene is unstable, making it difficult to formulate properly, if at all. That’s where squalane comes in. 

Squalene is converted to squalane through a process called hydrogenation. Through this process, we’re left with a more stable, effective version of squalene that works beautifully in everything from makeup and hair care to skincare and body care. 

Squalane benefits for the skin

There’s a reason (or many reasons) why squalane is a super common ingredient in so many modern skincare formulations—it’s great for the skin! Here are a few of its best benefits.

It’s a perfect match for our skin

The most obvious reason why squalane is so beneficial is that it’s a molecular match to our skin’s own moisturizing factors. That means our skin recognizes it instantly, and it’s able to absorb it faster and more effectively than other plant oils.

It strengthens the skin barrier

Not only is squalane a powerful moisturizer, but it boasts potent antioxidant benefits too. This combination helps strengthen the skin barrier, so your skin is better protected against damaging pollutants, oxidative stress, and other environmental stressors.

It’s lightweight and non-greasy

Squalane is a unique oil in that it provides moisturizing and glow-boosting benefits, but its lightweight texture means it’s never greasy or heavy on the skin. If you’ve struggled with other oil-based products in the past, give squalane a try.

It controls oil production

Since squalane so closely resembles our skin’s natural oils, it can actually help regulate our skin’s own oil production. When our skin recognizes the squalane molecules, it’s tricked into producing less oil, which can really benefit those with oily skin.

It moisturizes 

In addition to helping maintain skin barrier function, squalane helps keep skin moisturized and supple by supplying the ideal amount of lightweight moisture. 

It soothes inflammation

Because squalane helps strengthen and repair a compromised skin barrier, it’s incredible at soothing dry, inflamed patches. This is also beneficial for those with skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis who need ingredients that calm and soothe redness and irritation.

The Best 100% Squalane Oils:

Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil 100% Purified Squalane

This non-comedogenic face oil isn’t really oilless (it does contain squalane, after all), but it offers all the healing, moisturizing benefits of a face oil without the greasy, oily feel. It penetrates quickly into the skin to soothe, soften, and strengthen. Plus, it works for all skin types.

Shop the Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil 100% Purified Squalane

BeautyStat Universal Moisture Essence

Like the Oilless Oil, the Universal Moisture Essence provides skin with all the benefits of plant oils without leaving behind greasy, slimy residues. The weightless, ultra-hydrating formula treats dryness by helping replace the skin’s naturally occurring sebum, helping skin look fresh, youthful, and hydrated. It’s also non-comedogenic, non-sensitizing, fragrance-free, and suitable for all skin types.

 

Shop the BeautyStat Universal Moisture Essence

ClarityRx Nourish Your Skin 100% Squalane Moisturizing Oil

Nothing but pure squalane, this facial oil by ClarityRx penetrates quickly and effectively to promote deep hydration, healing, and protection from environmental aggressors. It’s ideal for those with dry or mature skin types who want a smooth, youthful, glowing complexion. 

 

Shop the ClarityRx Nourish Your Skin 100% Squalane Moisturizing Oil

The Best Products with Squalane

Neocutis NEO FIRM Neck & Décolleté Tightening Cream

An intensive treatment specifically for use on the delicate neck and décolleté, this anti-aging cream features glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, squalane, and other natural plant oils. It enhances elasticity and supports collagen production while firming and softening the skin. 

 

Shop the Neocutis NEO FIRM Neck & Décolleté Tightening Cream

Revision Skincare YouthFull Lip Replenisher

 This 5-star rated lip treatment renews lips’ youthfulness with a scientifically advanced formula to give the look and feel of plump, smooth, healthy lips without the need for fillers. Key ingredients include squalane, hyaluronic acid, jojoba esters, and antioxidant-rich plant extracts.

 

Shop the Revision Skincare YouthFull Lip Replenisher

Replenix Glycolic Acid 20% Resurfacing Cream

A breakthrough, dermatologist-developed skin resurfacing cream that hydrates, smooths, brightens, and refines: This lightweight moisturizer uses 20% crystalline glycolic acid alongside squalane, CoQ10, and other medical grade actives to minimize visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.

 

Shop the Replenix Glycolic Acid 20% Resurfacing Cream