If you keep up to date with the ever-evolving beauty game, you hear of a lot of ingredients pegged as the saviour to solving all skincare woes. From retinoids and niacinamides, it can get overwhelming to say the least.
You may have heard mention of squalane but what sets it apart from the crowd is that it is actually naturally produced by your body. Well, sort of. Squalene (that’s with an e) comes from the sebaceous glands and keeps your skin nourished and supports the natural barrier at cellular level. The skincare gods have bottle up this, but to make it more stable and effective, it goes through a hydrogenation process and it becomes squalane (with an a this time).
While mimicking the natural oil, the emollient ingredient boosts hydration, makes the skin more supple and acts as natural antioxidant to shield against harmful UVA, UVB, blue light and other external aggressors. It’s an oil but it’s lightweight, non-comedogenic and doesn’t leave a heavy, greasy residue.
We’ve consulted Ramya Viswanathan, Director of New Product Development of Biossance - the brand leading the squalane revolution - to find out more.
What exactly is squalane and how does it differ from squalene?
“The human body produces its own version of squalane (squalene) which is the skin’s own natural moisture. The amount present in your skin decreases as you age, leaving your skin dry and vulnerable.”
Where is squalane sourced from?
“First generation squalane was sourced from shark liver. By creating a better way to produce squalane through sustainable sugarcane, we save approximately 2 million sharks per year, a number that continues to grow.”
Now squalane is derived from plants and oils like olives, rice bran, amaranth seed, wheat germ, and sugar cane.
What skin types should use squalane?
“Squalane is a versatile oil that benefits all skin types, even the most sensitive skin. Because it’s a natural component of our skin’s moisture barrier, it’s recognised by our body, absorbs quickly and supports the delivery of other beneficial skincare ingredients – like vitamin C. Even oily skin types, which are often dehydrated from harsh, stripping products, can benefit from squalane since it is weightless and non-comedogenic, meaning, it won’t clog pores.”
What does squalane do?
“Squalane is a fantastic ingredient that instantly hydrates and replenishes skin’s moisture barrier. This barrier is what keeps our skin healthy so it can do its very important job of protecting us against the outside world. When our skin’s barrier becomes compromised—whether through severe climates or harsh products—it shows in irritation, redness and other sensitive skin issues. Squalane helps keep your moisture barrier in optimal condition and your skin smooth, soft and healthy-looking.”
Where can you apply squalane?
“It can be used on skin, body and hair.”
Should squalane be paired with any other ingredients?
“Squalane continues to trend as a powerful skincare ingredient. Squalane is an ingredient that plays well with others and can be used in any skincare routine. On its own, squalane has a beautiful, lightweight texture and we recommend using it as the last step in your skincare routine to lock in long lasting moisture”
Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum
Leaders in the squalane game, Biossance takes a sustainable approach to its skincare label and ingredient sourcing, using renewable sugarcane. The science-led label considers both the environment as well as efficacy so you always know you are treating your skin without harming the planet. Choosing just one in the range is not easy.
The brand’s 100% Squalane Oil is a great choice for an introduction to the powerhouse that is squalane, but our personal favourite is this formulation that combines it with glowy vitamin C and colour correcting white shiitake mushrooms. While tackling dark spots, it also brightens, encourages collagen production and offers antioxidant protection. The squalane mimics the body’s natural oils so absorbs weightlessly and offers intense moisturisation. It also boosts the other active ingredients to make them more effective.
The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane
Apply just a few drops of this unguent to give skin a welcomed hit of hydration. The non-comedogenic formula won’t clog your pores but instead prevents loss of moisture and can reduce the possibility of further breakouts. It can be used on all skin types (it works particularly well for dry and acne-prone) and can even be put on hair to increase shine and protect against your heated tools and external aggressors. The formula absorbs quickly into the skin and doesn’t feel greasy.
Augustinus Bader The Cleansing Balm
The beauty ed’s fave Augustinus Bader may be best known for its ‘The Cream’ or ‘The Rich Cream’ but it’s the Cleansing Balm that has got our vote for its combination of squalane with avocado-olive fruit oil and vitamin E. The product effectively removes makeup, dirt and grime from the day without that stripping feeling that is often associated with a cleanser. Instead, it packs the skin with nourishment for a truly pampering experience with every use. It has a balm texture that transforms into a milk when combined with water. The product is non-comedogenic, vegan and fragrance-free so can even be used on sensitive skin.
Caudalie Firming Cashmere Night Cream
Give skin a supercharged boost while you sleep by lathering this night cream onto your dry, dull and lacklustre complexion. The luxury French label pairs the anti-ageing combination of vegan collagen and resveratrol (an antioxidant sourced from grapes) with the hugely hydrating duo of olive squalane and hyaluronic acid to leave skin looking plump, firm and smooth. The soothing fragrance is derived from linden and verbena extracts and doesn’t feel overwhelming but will help to lull you into a deep sleep. The product has eco-credentials too - the packaging is glass and recyclable.
Zelens Z Pure Cleansing Liquid Balm
Putting the powerhouse that is squalane front and centre, this cleanser from Zelens offers everything you’d need from the first step in your skincare routine, while also giving your skin a welcomed delivery of moisture. While it removes all traces of dirt and impurities from the day, it also gets to work strengthening the skin’s protective barrier with the aforementioned squalane and the combination of essential oils and Shiso - a plant rich with omega-3 fatty acids. It appears like a gel but becomes a milky texture when mixed with water. Your complexion feels clean and fresh but also soft, smooth and radiant after use.
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream
Long a hero product in the Kiehl’s range, did you know the Ultra Facial Cream had squalane as an ingredient. The moisturiser plays the perfect balance between rich and nourishing, while also feeling lightweight. Olive-derived squalane acts as a moisture boost but also helps skin retain it’s natural water to keep your complexion hydrated throughout the day. The formula also contains Glacial Glycoprotein that comes from sea glaciers and can thrive in extreme environments so no matter what your day will throw at you, your skin is protected.
Summer Fridays CC Me Serum
This serum from clean, vegan skincare label Summer Fridays contains brightening vitamin C. There’s not one but two types of the radiance-boosting ingredient that also reduces hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Squalane lovers, fear not, as of course the moisturising element is included in the formula. It has a protecting effect as well as soothes skin with the added bonus of clove, coffee and green tea extract. Apply a few drops before your moisturiser.