Squalene (& Squalane) Explained


Alright. So, what is it?

Squalene, What the heck is it and why does it have such a funny name? The chemical itself was discovered from shark liver oil, yet in many cases is now sourced from olives, wheat germ, and bran. It was later learned that squalene was not a foreign chemical to the human system as it is found readily in sebum and acts as a natural moisturizer and skin protectant. And now with even more research having been done we have learned that, biochemically speaking, squalene is a key intermediate and precursor to many steroid hormones and vitamin D! Seems to be important stuff here. This fat soluble anti-oxidant is not particularly stable enough for prolonged shelf-life, so this is where the saturated and stable form, squalane, comes into play. Chances are, you’ve most likely seen squalane instead of squalene in your products label. And that’s okay! Do not be alarmed! Squalane is just as safe for sensitive skin and the chance of having a negative reaction is negligible (unless you’re using too much product, but hey, if you use too much of any product you’ll probably break out). Long story short, because squalene is a tad too unstable for the shelf life of cosmetics or skincare, the hydrogenated, saturated sister squalane is used.


Key Aspects of Squalane

So, why include it in your skincare? As it is naturally found in one’s sebum, squalane is able to absorb into your skin with minimal irritation, all while giving amazing moisturizing and hydrating benefits. It further grants popular moisturizers their signature spreadable texture due to it’s emollient-like properties. Yet, it’s most noteworthy role is in conjunction with various ingredients or products–think of it as “a booster“ for your other products or ingredients. If in a solution by itself, once applied and settled, it helps the absorption of subsequent products into the skin. If in a product with other ingredients, it aids other active components, alongside it’s moisturizing qualities. So, all this means is that be it in a product by itself or a part of the whole, it is an essential moisturizing ingredient for highly sensitive skin.

Product Ideas

Squalane is in everything ranging from moisturizers, serums to face masks. Here is a random list of a few products I could think of to name a few. Really, I made this list to show how extensive and wonderfully pervasive this chemical.

 Chanel’s 10 Ingredient Solution Moisturizer This moisturizer, although quite expensive, has squalene, which is one of only ten moisturizing ingredients. In my opinion, this is a  fantastic moisturizer for sensitive skin (as I have personally tested it myself. And WOWZA is all I can say)

The Ordinary 100% Squalene  This is a serum-like solution used before any active ingredients/serums helps enhance moisture and subsequent product absorption. (As I’m currently writing this, it only costs around 8 US dollars for 30 ml!)

DHC Stretch Vital Mask This neck/chin mask in particular advertises hyaluronic acid and essential oils as the main focus, not squalane. However, it is still listed in the product label as one of the ingredients, whereas the My Beauty Diary Restorative Squalene Mask advertises squalene as the first and foremost ingredient. This goes to show that just it does not have to be the first or second ingredient for it to have a positive effect on your skin!

Final Thoughts

Just because you may not recognize this ingredient as you would algae, collagen, or cucumber extract (which I’m even sure actually does anything), certainly does not mean you should shy away from such an amazing, beneficial ingredient. Personally, I really love finding products that have this as one of the ingredients and I really hope you will too!


Happy Moisturizing,


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