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Squalane: Definition, Benefits, Skincare, Safety, and Ethical Sourcing Considerations

Last updated: Aug 2023
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What is Squalane?

Squalane is a naturally occurring lipid that is derived from squalene. It is found in high concentrations in the skin, liver, and sebum. Squalane is a highly moisturizing and lubricating ingredient that can be used in skincare and cosmetic products.

Definition of Squalane

Squalane is a hydrogenated version of squalene. This hydrogenation process increases the stability and shelf life of the molecule. Squalane is a lightweight and non-greasy oil that is easily absorbed by the skin. It is known for its excellent emollient properties, which help to restore the skin's moisture barrier and keep it hydrated.

Natural vs. Synthetic Squalane

Traditionally, squalane was derived from shark liver oil. However, concerns about animal welfare and sustainability have led to the development of synthetic squalane, which is now widely used in the industry. Synthetic squalane is derived from plant-based sources such as olives, sugarcane, and rice bran. It is chemically identical to its natural counterpart and offers the same benefits.

Choosing between natural and synthetic squalane is a personal preference. Natural squalane may appeal to those who prefer products derived from natural sources, while synthetic squalane may be preferred by individuals who prioritize sustainability and cruelty-free options.

Extraction Methods

There are different methods of extracting squalane from its natural sources. The most common methods include:

  1. Steam distillation: This method involves heating plant-based sources such as olives or rice bran to separate the squalane from the oils. The steam carries the squalane to a collection vessel where it condenses into a liquid form.
  2. Molecular distillation: In this process, the squalane is extracted through a vacuum distillation system, which isolates it from other components. This method is particularly valuable in obtaining highly pure squalane.
  3. Hydrolysis: Hydrolysis involves breaking down the squalene molecule into its individual components, including squalane. This method requires the use of enzymes or acids to separate squalane from other substances.

It's worth noting that the extraction methods used for synthetic squalane differ slightly. Synthetic squalane is usually derived from plant-based sources through a hydrogenation process, which helps to increase stability and remove impurities.

Benefits of Squalane

Squalane is a popular skincare ingredient known for its numerous benefits. From its moisturizing properties to its anti-aging effects, squalane has become a staple in many skincare routines. In this guide, we will explore the benefits of squalane and why it is suitable for different skin types. Additionally, we will discuss how squalane provides protection from environmental damage.

Moisturizing Properties

  • One of the key benefits of squalane is its exceptional moisturizing properties.
  • Squalane is an excellent emollient that helps to seal moisture into the skin, resulting in a soft and supple complexion.
  • It absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy residue, making it suitable for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin.
  • Incorporating squalane into your skincare routine can help prevent dryness and maintain a healthy moisture balance in the skin.

Anti-Aging Effects

  • Squalane is also known for its anti-aging effects.
  • As we age, our skin’s natural squalene production decreases, leading to dryness, fine lines, and wrinkles.
  • By applying squalane topically, we can replenish the skin's natural lipid barrier, improving hydration and reducing the signs of aging.
  • Squalane is a lightweight oil that is easily absorbed into the skin, delivering essential nutrients deep into the dermis.
  • Regular use of squalane can help improve skin elasticity, minimize the appearance of wrinkles, and promote a youthful complexion.

Suitability for Different Skin Types

  • One of the great advantages of squalane is its suitability for various skin types.
  • It is non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog pores, making it ideal for acne-prone and oily skin.
  • Squalane is also hypoallergenic, making it an excellent choice for sensitive skin.
  • It is a gentle and soothing ingredient that can help calm inflammation and reduce redness.
  • Even those with dry or combination skin can benefit from squalane's moisturizing properties, as it helps to restore and maintain the skin's natural moisture balance.

Protection from Environmental Damage

  • Another notable benefit of squalane is its ability to protect the skin from environmental damage.
  • Our skin is constantly exposed to harmful environmental factors like pollution, UV rays, and free radicals, which can lead to premature aging and skin damage.
  • Squalane acts as a protective barrier, shielding the skin from these external aggressors.
  • It has antioxidant properties that help neutralize free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and preventing collagen breakdown.
  • By incorporating squalane into your skincare routine, you can help protect your skin and maintain its youthful vitality.

Squalane in Skincare Products: A Comprehensive Guide

Squalane has gained popularity in recent years as a skincare ingredient, known for its moisturizing and anti-aging properties. Derived from squalene, a natural lipid found in human skin, squalane offers numerous benefits to the skin. In this guide, we will explore the skincare products that contain squalane, its effectiveness in skincare, and its compatibility with other skincare ingredients.

Skincare Products Containing Squalane

Squalane is a versatile ingredient that can be found in a wide range of skincare products. It is commonly used in:

  • Moisturizers
  • Serums
  • Facial oils
  • Makeup products like foundations and primers

When shopping for skincare products, look for terms like "squalane," "squalane oil," or "derived from olive oil" on the ingredient list.

Effectiveness of Squalane in Skincare

Squalane is highly effective in skincare due to its molecular structure, which is similar to the skin's own lipids. This enables it to:

  • Quickly absorb into the skin, providing immediate hydration and improving skin texture
  • Be suitable for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin, due to its lightweight and non-greasy nature
  • Act as an emollient, sealing in moisture and preventing water loss from the skin, resulting in a plump and hydrated complexion
  • Act as an antioxidant, protecting the skin from environmental aggressors and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Have anti-inflammatory properties, making it suitable for soothing sensitive or irritated skin

Compatibility with Other Skincare Ingredients

Squalane is a versatile ingredient that can be easily incorporated into existing skincare routines. It is compatible with a wide range of other ingredients, including:

  • Retinol - helps minimize potential irritation and dryness caused by retinol, while boosting its effectiveness
  • Vitamin C - enhances its skin-brightening and antioxidant properties
  • Hyaluronic acid - provides additional hydration, enhancing its plumping effect
  • Peptides - can be used together without any known conflicts or interactions

To maximize the benefits of squalane, it is recommended to apply it as the last step of your skincare routine. After cleansing, toning, and applying any serums or treatments, apply a few drops of squalane onto your face and neck, gently massaging it in until fully absorbed.


Squalane is a versatile and effective skincare ingredient, suitable for all skin types. Look for products that contain squalane to benefit from its moisturizing, anti-aging, and soothing properties. Incorporate it into your skincare routine alongside other compatible ingredients to harness its full potential. With regular use, squalane can contribute to a healthier, more vibrant complexion.

Potential Allergic Reactions

  • Check product labels for common allergens such as fragrance, sulfates, parabens, and certain preservatives.
  • Perform a patch test before applying any new product to your face or body if you have sensitive skin or a history of allergies.
  • Apply a small amount of the product to a small area of your skin and observe for any signs of redness, itching, or irritation.
  • If you experience an allergic reaction, discontinue use immediately and seek medical advice if necessary.

Comedogenicity and Clogging Pores

  • Look for non-comedogenic or oil-free products specifically formulated to avoid pore-clogging ingredients if you have acne-prone skin.
  • Avoid products with heavy oils and silicones, as they have a higher tendency to clog pores.
  • Pay attention to product labels that claim non-comedogenicity and choose lightweight, water-based formulations for acne-prone or oily skin.

Usage Precautions and Warnings

  • Read and follow instructions carefully to ensure correct usage and minimize potential risks.
  • Some products may be recommended for use only at night due to increased sun sensitivity.
  • Follow any instructions regarding avoiding contact with eyes or mucous membranes.

Consult a Dermatologist or Healthcare Professional

If you have underlying skin conditions or concerns, it is crucial to seek guidance from a dermatologist or healthcare professional. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific needs and help you select products that are safe and beneficial for your skin type.

Sources of Squalane

Squalane, a popular skincare ingredient known for its moisturizing properties, can be derived from different sources. The most common sources of squalane include:

  • Shark liver oil
  • Plant-based sources

However, sourcing squalane from shark liver oil raises ethical concerns due to its impact on shark populations. Therefore, it is advisable to seek out squalane products derived from plant-based sources. These can include:

  • Olive oil
  • Rice bran oil
  • Sugarcane

Look for brands that clearly state the source of their squalane and prioritize plant-based alternatives to ensure ethical sourcing.

Certifications and Regulations

Certifications can provide reassurance that a product or ingredient has been sourced and produced in a sustainable and ethical manner. Some certifications to look for include:

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification - ensures products come from responsibly managed forests
  • Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification - verifies products come from sustainably managed fisheries

When it comes to squalane specifically, look for certifications from organizations like ECOCERT or USDA Organic, which verify the ingredient's organic and sustainable sourcing practices. Additionally, pay attention to any local or international regulations that govern the sourcing and production of specific ingredients to ensure compliance with ethical standards.

Alternative and Eco-Friendly Options

Beyond squalane, there are other alternative and eco-friendly options to consider when choosing skincare products. Some ingredients to look for include:

  • Jojoba oil
  • Rosehip oil
  • Shea butter

These ingredients are naturally derived and have moisturizing properties similar to squalane. They are often sustainably sourced and can be found in a wide range of skincare products. Look for brands that prioritize using natural and renewable ingredients, and consider opting for products packaged in recyclable or biodegradable materials to minimize environmental impact.


  1. Squalane is a lightweight and non-comedogenic moisturizer derived from plants, usually sugarcane or olives, making it suitable for all skin types.

  2. It mimics the skin's natural sebum, allowing it to easily absorb and restore the skin's moisture barrier, keeping it soft and hydrated.

  3. Squalane is an excellent emollient that helps to reduce skin dryness, roughness, and flakiness, promoting a smooth and supple complexion.

  4. It has antioxidant properties that protect the skin from environmental damage caused by free radicals, such as pollution and UV radiation.

  5. Squalane has anti-inflammatory benefits that can calm and soothe sensitive or irritated skin, reducing redness and itchiness.

  6. Regular use of squalane in skincare can improve the overall appearance of the skin, making it look more radiant, youthful, and healthier.