What Is Squalane?

Squalane is a squalene derivative with a lower molecular weight that is safer for acne and congestion. Squalene accounts for 10 to 12 percent of the skin's natural oils or sebum. It is a natural lipid that aids in keeping the skin hydrated and the oil levels controlled.

Squalane and squalene are used in skincare and body care formulations in somewhat similar ways. The major distinction is that squalane is more robust and suitable for congested skin forms. Squalane does not oxidise like squalene, but it lasts longer and has a much lighter texture and feel.

Squalane and squalene can be obtained from both animal and plant sources. The more ethical brands get their squalene from olives, wheat germ oil, or rice bran oil. Since squalane does not oxidise due to its hydrogenated nature, it is more soluble and therefore preferred in skincare formulations.

How Squalane Works?

Squalane reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as flakiness and dryness, and is non-comedogenic (doesn’t cause pore-blocking), making it ideal for congested or oily skin.


What Squalane Does To The Skin?

Squalane is used in cosmetics due to four main benefits that it provides to the skin:

  • Antioxidant Properties: Squalene has been shown to have antioxidant properties that greatly benefit the skin. This has been proposed as a result of squalene's capacity to act as an oxygen-scavenging agent. This suggests that squalene helps to mitigate some of the symptoms of oxidative stress on the skin. When the skin is exposed to sunlight or other sources of environmental stimuli, oxidative stress happens often. Antioxidants can aid in the fight against ageing by shielding the skin from UV rays and free radicals, which kill skin cells and the skin's natural collagen. Squalene's antioxidant properties provide a secondary effect in that it can help to minimise discomfort.
  • Hydrating Properties: Squalene and squalane aid in the prevention of transepidermal water depletion (TEWL). When moisture from the top layers of the skin is lost to the air, it causes TEWL. This may cause dryness or aggravate current dryness or flakiness. Squalane and squalene can increase the appearance of dryness and flakiness by avoiding water loss. Both squalane and squalene are occlusive additives, which ensures they serve as a physical shield between the skin and the air, preventing water loss.
  • Oil Balancing Property: Sebum, or the natural oils produced by your skin, helps to keep it from being dry. When the skin becomes dry due to environmental conditions, harsh cleanser, or an imbalance of hormones, the skin can overproduce sebum to compensate. This payout will clog the pores and leave the skin looking greasy. One possible alternative is to use oils that resemble the skin's natural sebum, such as jojoba, squalene, and squalane. Squalene accounts for 13% of the skin's own sebum.
  • Emollient Properties: An emollient aids in the reduction of the presence of dried and flaky skin. They form a thin layer on the skin, protecting it from moisture loss and ensuring a safe skin barrier. Skin barrier health is particularly critical for allergic skin types or skin that has had its skin barrier disrupted, in cases such as eczema, dermatitis, or psoriasis. Both squalane and squalene are emollients. When it comes to skincare ingredients, they absorb easily and thoroughly, leaving the skin with a slight protective layer without the heaviness of thicker materials.

Reference Sources

  • Huang, Z R, Lin, Y, & Fang, J. Y, 2009. ‘Biological and pharmacological activities of squalene and related compounds: potential uses in cosmetic dermatology’, Molecules.
  • Lozano-Grande, A, Gorinstein, S, Espitia-Rangel, E, Dávila-Ortiz, G Leticia Martínez-Ayal, A, 2018. ‘Plant Sources, Extraction Methods, and Uses of Squalene’, International Journal of Agronomy.
  • Cosmetic Ingredient Safety Assessments, 2003. ‘Squalene and Squalane’, International Journal of Toxicology.