Squalane: The What, Why & Best Of It
Squalane: The What, Why & Best Of It
You've definitely spotted squalane among the ingredients in your favourite moisturizers if you've been reading your skincare labels for a long time.

The What

Squalane, commonly known as squalane oil, is a colourless and odourless hydrator that has been used in cosmetics since the 1950s. 

It has the feel of a thin, lightweight oil, however it is not the same as plant-based oils. Squalane is a pure liquid hydrocarbon, which contains a mixture of hydrocarbons, triglycerides, esters, and alcohols. This means it's made up entirely of carbon and hydrogen, and it's related to mineral oil, petrolatum, and alkanes. 

These hydrocarbons, which are often found in skincare products, are 100 percent saturated, meaning they have no double bonds in their chemical structure. As a result, they are highly stable and resistant to oxidation. Squalane and other hydrocarbons have a substantially longer shelf life than plant oils. 

However, there are some crucial distinctions between squalane and mineral oil or petroleum jelly. The most evident is the texture, dubbed "the water of emollients" since squalane is so thin, light, and non-greasy. 

Another significant contrast is the method through which squalene is produced. Mineral oil, petrolatum, and paraffin waxes are petrochemical byproducts produced during refining crude oil to make gasoline. On the other hand, squalane is generated from squalene, a naturally occurring lipid that we'll discuss next. 

Squalane vs. Squalene 

Squalene (with an "e"), together with triglycerides, waxes, fatty acids, cholesterol, and cholesterol esters, is a natural component of our own sebum. 

Squalene reduces water loss, functions as an antioxidant, and even protects against certain carcinogens, in addition to keeping our skin elastic and flexible. 

The only issue? Because squalene is polyunsaturated, it is very volatile and oxidiZes quickly (go rancid). That is why, in order to become more stable, it must be converted into squalane (with an "a"). Squalene from plant or animal sources can be used in skincare products to accomplish this. 

When squalene undergoes hydrogenation, squalane is formed. This changes squalene from an unsaturated to a saturated molecule. It also extends the product's shelf life significantly. The majority of squalane oils on the market have a two- to three-year shelf life. 

The Controversy Behind Squalene

When squalene was first hydrogenated a century ago, it was isolated from shark livers. While this procedure allowed producers to develop a high-purity squalane, it also raised ethical and environmental problems. 

Squalane generated from sharks is no longer commonly available, which is good. Today, most manufacturers employ plant sources such as olives, sugarcane, beets, wheat germ, rice bran, and palm oil; however, you should always double-check. 

Olives and sugarcane are the most prevalent, with purity levels ranging from 75 to 94 percent. 

  • Olive squalane is made by extracting squalene from olive pulp, skin, and pits, then combining it with hydrogen to get squalane. 

  • Sugarcane squalane is made by bioengineered yeast that feed on sugarcane and creates a precursor of squalene, which is subsequently extracted and turned into squalene and, ultimately, squalane. 

Does it make a difference in which one you use? 

Maybe. There can be subtle changes in texture, rate of absorption, and even performance because each contains various contaminants that remain after hydrogenation. Most people won't notice, but sugarcane variants are typically the lightest, whilst olive versions generally are a little richer. 

The Why

Does this oil belong in your regimen now that you know what it is? The following are all of the ways it can benefit your skin: 

  • Hydrates and softens 

It hydrates your skin and increases its suppleness, elasticity, and smoothness as an emollient. But, unlike most oils, which take a long time to absorb, it absorbs fast and leave no greasy feel behind. 

Squalane can be seen to plump and moisturize the skin in the same way that hyaluronic acid can. Your natural squalene production begins to drop substantially around the age of 30 (along with many other skin components, such as collagen), therefore using squalane helps replenish these supplies to keep skin moisturized and looking youthful. 

  • Prevents Moisture Loss 

Squalane oil really helps to rebuild the barrier of your skin. It hydrates and locks in moisture and prevents it from escaping—all without feeling heavy or obstructive. When you put it on, you're not only avoiding water loss, but you're also protecting your skin from harmful environmental elements. 

If the skin is really dry and the environment is extremely dry, a stronger, heavier occlusive may be required, like squalane to lock in the moisture and ensure that hydration is not evaporating from the skin. 

  • Treats Chapped and Irritated Skin 

This oil can also be used to soothe and mend rough, chapped, cracked, or irritated skin that requires some extra attention. Eczema (atopic dermatitis), contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis are all common skin conditions treated with it. 

It has anti-inflammatory characteristics and can help alleviate inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and inflammatory acne. It's also "excellent for sensitive skin", because it's non-irritating and doesn't trigger allergic reactions even at high doses. 

  • Balances Oil Production 

You can even utilize it to assist in regulating excess oil output, believe it or not. It absorbs excess oil and nourishes deeply without blocking pores. 

  • Prevents the Lipid Peroxidation That Leads to Acne 

Finally, it aids in the prevention of squalene oxidation in your sebum, which is a little-known cause of breakouts. 

However, because everyone's skin is different, any component, particularly oils, could be comedogenic. Squalene is not advocated by dermatologists for patients with acne-prone skin in general. It's a completely saturated fat that can cause acne in some people. 

If you're prone to breakouts, start with a drop or two, maybe on one small area, and keep an eye on your skin. It's not always the type of oil that causes breakouts, but it's also the amount—you don't want to overburden your skin with more than it can manage. 


Final Take

Now you know what squalane is and why it's causing such a stir in the beauty business. 

It's what we like to refer to as the face oil for folks who despise face oils. It's so light and non-greasy that you don't even realise you're wearing anything on your skin. Furthermore, the majority of people are unaffected by it. I've never heard of anyone experiencing an allergic reaction, let alone acne. (I'm allergic to oils, yet it's never caused me to break out!) 

Another fantastic feature is that it's incredibly stable—much more so than any other oil. That it has a long shelf life and won't oxidize (become rancid), which is extremely aging to the skin. Consider using squalane in your skincare routine. What other hydrator could offer so many advantages in such a small amount of time?! 


Find out more about squalane on buckawish.