Which is Better Squalene or Squalane?

Which is Better Squalene or Squalane?

We've discussed before just how overwhelming the skincare industry can be, especially when you consider today’s two ingredients that sound remarkably similar. Not to worry though as I’m here today to clear things up and put an end to any confusion you have when figuring which is better, squalene or squalane. So, with this in mind, let’s get started!

Is squalane the same as squalene?

Here is a quick breakdown of the difference between squalene and squalane:


  • Naturally occurs in the body and helps produce sebum (the natural oil in the skin)
  • Is a natural antioxidant and can protect the skin barrier
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and sun damage
  • Known for being unstable and has a short shelf life


  • Formally derived from shark livers but is now produced using plant oils
  • Can also be derived from squalene through the process known as hydrogenation
  • More stable than squalene and has a longer shelf-life
  • Helps to reduce signs of premature ageing and patches of dry skin

Squalene, with an ‘e’, is actually produced in the body in the sebaceous glands in the skin. This is where sebum (the oil that is found in the body) is released on the skin surface which depending on your skin type can determine how much is on the surface. By this is mean oily skin types tend to have more sebum than others but generally speaking for the skin to remain healthy and functioning properly it requires a certain level of sebum to stay moisturised. With squalene being a lipid it is able to maintain the barrier health of the skin by repairing any damage whilst combating free radicals, such as exposure to UV rays and pollution.

There is a downside to squalene and that is how its production begins to slow down once we are over the age of 30 resulting in the skin showing signs of premature ageing and potentially becoming dry. To counteract this natural process you can include additional hydrating skin ingredients, such as niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. There is also an interesting factor to remember when it comes to both of these ingredients, and that is the fact that squalene, may be the natural version, it is notoriously unstable which is why there have been many formulations developed to make the version, squalane. To make the squalane with an “a” it needs to go through a hydrogenated state this results in squalane has a longer shelf-life and can be exposed to air without the worry of it becoming oxidised and losing its potency. 

As for squalane itself, for a number of years it was used in products after it had been harvested from shark livers. For obvious reasons there was a large shift towards a more ethical source resulting in squalane now being derived from plants, such as olives and rice bran, as well as other plant oils like, amaranth seed, wheat germ and sugar cane. 

What does squalane do for your face?

Squalene is estimated to produce up to 12% of the skin’s natural oil and is vital for maintaining the health of the skin barrier. With its highly effective hydrating properties it is able to keep the skin looking and feeling moisturised. Signs of ageing and dry areas are reduced significantly by squalane’s ability to maintain the overall health of the skin’s protective barrier keeping the natural water and oil levels at the correct levels resulting in the skin being able to protect itself from the exposure to free radical damage. This damage is caused from pollution, the sun’s rays, central heating and other environmental aggressors that come into contact with the skin on a daily basis. With the help from squalane you will find your skin will look plumped, healthy with an even texture, skin tone and have a youthful bounce.

Is squalane better than hyaluronic acid?

Much like squalene, hyaluronic acid is also produced naturally in the body, but also its production begins to decrease as we age. When it comes to considering which is better, this is a lot trickier as they both provide impressive skin moisturising benefits. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant meaning it is able to penetrate the skin and binds the water to the skin cells. This then leads to it drawing water into the skin from products and the atmosphere round the face keeping the surface barrier fully hydrated and healthy.

As for squalane, it can offer similar results but you may find that those with a dehydrated and dry skin type will benefit mainly from squalane due to the fact it can help stimulate the production of sebum as well as keeping the protective barrier looking and feeling healthy. As for hyaluronic acid this will be a more effective ingredient for those with an oily skin type, with any signs of uneven skin tone and appearance of acne scarring being significantly reduced.

Can I use squalane and vitamin C together?

You can indeed, there are certain serums and ingredients that work well together and vitamin C and squalane is one of them! When it comes to serums the consistency is usually lightweight making it easy to apply and able to penetrate into the lower layers of the skin reaching the areas of the skin that require a boost in hydration or other treatment for any concerns, from signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles, to uneven skin tone. When layering vitamin C and squalane together its best to apply the vitamin C first of all to target dark spots and lacklustre skin, followed by squalane to give a hydration boost.

Does squalane go before or after moisturiser?

This is dependent on which product squalane is formulated into, by this I mean if it is in a face wash, serum or toner then it should be applied before a moisturiser. For optimal results I would suggest cleansing the skin, sloughing away the build-up of dead skin cell using an exfoliating toner containing an AHA such as glycolic acid or lactic acid. Once that barrier has been removed you can apply a serum enriched in squalane to nourish and hydrate your cleansed skin. You can follow this with a moisturiser, eye cream and SPF if you are using this routine during the day for important UV protection.

Hope that today has given you a better insight into which is better and how to determine which ingredient would work best for you and your skin type. If you are wanting to find out more about squalane and squalene you can check out our blog post. Don’t forget to come and join us over on our Instagram for daily posts, product launches and giveaways!  


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