Squalane: the perfect skin care oil?

Sugar Cane Squalane. Copyright Bajan Scent

One of the most sought after natural ingredients in cosmetics and skin care today is an oil-like substance called squalane. It’s actually called squalene (with an ‘e’) or squalane (with an ‘a’) and it’s being used more and more in a variety of products such as hair conditioners, facial oils, moisturizers, anti-aging products, eye creams, lipsticks, and sunscreens:

1. What is squalene?
It’s a substance found in shark oil (and other fish oils), as well as in natural, plant sources such as olive oil, rice bran oil, beets and sugar cane.
Traditionally, sharks were hunted by cosmetic companies so that they could harvest the squalene from their livers and use them in beauty products. But this is no longer an ethical or environmentally-friendly option. Deep sea sharks need squalene to survive. Up to 80% of the oil from a shark’s liver is made from squalene. It helps them to utilize oxygen, and protects them from environmental stressors. So, companies are increasingly looking at alternative sources of squalene….mainly from olive oil and sugar cane. 

Photo of a Shortfin Mako Shark copyright Brian Sherry. All rights reserved.

2. Why is it of interest?
Squalene is also found in the human skin. In fact, human sebum (which is basically the oil that comes out of the glands of our skin) is made up of 25 % squalene. We have a lot of squalene in our skin up to our early twenties, but then it tends to decline rapidly. This makes squalene of interest to cosmetic and skincare commercial manufacturers as a naturally compatible moisturizer and lubricant.

3. Why does it have two names?
Squalene (with an ‘e’) is also sometimes referred to as squalane (with an ‘a’).
The oil has to be put through a stabilization process before it can be used in skin care products, so that it can have a high shelf life. After this process takes place it is called squalane (with an ‘a’).

4. Benefits of squalane in skin care:
Squalane has been shown to provide a moisturizing effect to the skin. It is also non-greasy, absorbs into the skin easily, is colorless and odorless. Several studies suggest it has strong antioxidant and anti-bacterial effects on the skin, and also regulates moisture balance. It absorbs into the skin easily, is non-greasy and odorless, and helps other skin care oils such as evening primrose to penetrate more easily into the skin.

Some products which feature vegetable-derived squalane:

Indie Lee Squalane Facial Cream

La Roche Posay Ultra Intense Soothing Facial Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

Kiehl’s Since 1851 Lip Balm #1

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