The benefits of squalane


Move over coconut oil. There’s a new oil in town.

Like many beauty lovers, I’m always on the hunt for the next, big skincare ingredient. A couple years ago, the beauty world lost its collective mind over hyaluronic acid and rightly so. It can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it one of the most hydrating skincare ingredients on the market—The Ordinary sells it by the bottle for $7 and it’s amazing. But last year, I was introduced to Biossance, a new green beauty brand whose secret ingredient is squalane and it’s a definite game-changer.

Squalene is a special molecule that we’re born with and keep producing throughout our lives. But, like youth proteins collagen and elastin, we slow down our production of squalene in our late twenties, early thirties. Thankfully, beauty brands everywhere have found a way to incorporate squalane into a growing collection of skincare products.


There’s a difference between squalane and squalene

Squalene has a fraternal twin named squalane and the only difference between the two is one is stable and one is not. Squalene is the unstable ingredient that our bodies naturally produce and it will spoil quickly if used in skincare.

Squalane, on the other hand, is a hydrogenated version of squalene. The hydrogen molecule helps to stabilize squalane, making it a skincare-friendly ingredient.

The sources 

When squalene made its beauty debut over sixty years ago, it was sourced from sharks —and specifically shark livers. Shark liver oil has a high concentration of squalene. It’s also easier and cheaper to use shark livers than other, more ethical sources like plants. But, with the growing concern for shark conservation, some companies are finally using alternative sources like olives, wheat bran, and rice. Green beauty brand, Biossance, uses squalane in all of their products and sources its hero ingredient from sugarcane.

Squalene in action

Squalane is becoming a popular skincare ingredient for many reasons: it helps skin retain moisture, it creates a natural barrier to protect skin, and it can be used pretty much anywhere on the body—even your hair.

Unlike other oils that can feel heavy and greasy, squalane is light, absorbs quickly, and penetrates the deeper layers of our skin. It’s non-comedogenic—it won’t clog your pores—making it a safe skincare ingredient for people with sensitive skin.

When it’s applied to hair, it adds shine, softness, and acts as a heat protecting oil. Squalane can also help improve the overall look and feel of your skin by encouraging cell turnover and reducing wrinkles and fine lines.

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Where can you find it

You’d be surprised how many beauty brands use squalane in their products but I have a couple of favourites. The Ordinary’s 100% Plant-Derived Squalane ($8) is so affordable that you can practically bathe in it if you wanted. Biossance also has a 100% Squalane Oil ($68) but they use squalane in all of their products. You can pick and choose which ones you’d like to incorporate into your beauty routine. I’m also a sucker for the Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel ($68) and the Squalane + Glycolic Renewal Facial ($85).

Squalane may be a new beauty craze but it’s one that actually works wonders for your skin. I was introduced to the secret powers of squalane last year and I’ve been a loyal consumer ever since. So loyal, in fact, that my response to anyone mentioning coconut oil is, “I’m sorry, coconut oil who?”

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