What Is Squalene And What Are Its Skincare Benefits?

What Is Squalene And What Are Its Skincare Benefits?

If you were to take a look at the ingredients of your skincare products, you will probably find squalane and squalene in them. Yes, they may sound like the same ingredient, and technically they are, but believe it or not that one letter makes a huge difference to where you will find it and how you can use it.

Trust me, this gets a lot more confusing before it all starts to make sense! But don't panic, lets us both find out more about this wonderfully hydrating molecule.

What’s the difference between squalene and squalane?

Squalene is naturally found in the body and helps keep the skin looking younger, more supple-looking and hydrated. Much like everything else produced in the body it begins to deteriorate as we age and the body can no longer keep the moisture in the skin's barrier at the correct level, this then leads to fine lines, wrinkles and other concerns.

Applying squalene to the skin should combat this problem, however, as powerful as squalene may be, it is not very stable and cannot be blended into the formulations of skincare products unless it has been hydrogenated and made into squalane which is a stable form of the molecule. This is why you will find that the supercharged emollient found in skincare products is in fact squalane. The easiest way to think about this is squalene and squalane are twins, both of which are great to have around but squalene is that one who will take you out clubbing until 6 am when you have work the next day, whilst the other (squalane) calls it a night at a reasonable hour.

Though you can reap the skincare benefits of using a squalane enriched moisturiser, there is a downside to this hydrating ingredient and that is because some years ago shark livers (yep sharks, the ones you find in the oceans) were found to contain high levels of squalene and were the chosen product of procuring the emollient to make skincare. In recent years you will be hard pushed to find products containing this here in the UK and instead derivatives of squalene are found and sourced from olives, rice bran and sugarcane.

Fast facts about squalene:

  • Naturally found in the body
  • Hydrates the skin but begins to decrease in effectiveness when we reach the age of 30
  • Has been found in shark livers which have previously been used for formulating skincare products
  • Natural resources such as rice brand, olives and sugarcane are now used to add to skincare products
  • Is quite unstable and cannot be mixed into skincare formulas
  • Squalene has to undergo a process of hydrogenation to become squalane which is then added to skincare

What does squalene do for your skin?

Squalene is the ultimate hydrating booster that can help the skin to remain moisturised and keep it looking healthier and vibrant. The antioxidant properties also combat any free radicals that can alter the skin’s appearance, texture and functionality. Sun damage and the first signs of ageing, such as fine lines, wrinkles and lack of collagen production are the first to be noticeably helped by applying squalane products like serums and moisturisers.  

Which skin types can use squalene?

You will find that all skin types will benefit from the introduction of squalene into their routine. Dry skins will appreciate the extreme boost in hydration and oily and blemish-prone skins will find squalene to be a great alternative to a nourishing facial oil due to the fact it is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog the pores and cause breakouts. Even those who suffer from rosacea, eczema and redness will find the anti-inflammatory properties will help to calm and soothe the complexion. For those with a sensitive skin type, you will find that with the product being odourless and gentle on the skin shouldn't have any concern of causing irritation, however, much like all new products introduced into your skincare routine (especially if you have sensitive skin), it is important to be wary and build a tolerance for the products over time.

How do you use squalene?

You will find hydrogenated squalene (squalane) in many various products, from cleansers to moisturisers and seeing how squalene does not cause any irritation or other skin concerns, you can use multiple products containing squalene throughout your routine.

If however, you are worried this will be too much for your skin it is best to opt for a moisturiser or serum as these products stay on the skin for a considerable longer amount of time and allow the squalene to lock in moisture and help revive the skin and give a youthful, plumper complexion.

Is squalene better than hyaluronic acid?

You savvy skin fans may be thinking how there are similarities between squalene and hyaluronic acid and how they both benefit the skin. Hyaluronic acid is able to absorb into the skin and lock in moisture but unfortunately not able to hold onto to it for long term results. You can find out more about what hyaluronic acid does by checking out our blog post about the skincare benefits of hyaluronic acid.

How squalene compares to hyaluronic acid is mainly down to its impressive ability to grab moisture from around the face and lock it into the skin allowing enough time for it to be fully absorbed and keep the protective barrier fully stocked with glowing hydration.

What are the dangers of using squalene?

As previously mentioned there are no particular dangers of using squalene in your skincare regime. However, it is always best to perform a patch test even if your skin has never shown signs of sensitivity before. If after 24 hours you have no irritation or allergic reaction you are able to use the squalene.

The one real ‘danger’ of using squalene is finding out where the ingredient is derived from. When shopping for squalene always check to see that it is plant-based and not harvested from shark livers as this is not ethical, sustainable or environmentally friendly.

So, there you have another wonderful skincare ingredient for you to try out. With its ability to fit right into practically everyone’s skincare routine your skin will begin to look younger and healthier thanks to the boost in hydration. Now, you must admit, that makes up for all the slightly confusing letter change of squalane and squalene right? The results you will see will make it all worthwhile!


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