What is Squalane Oil? A Trending Skincare Ingredient for Anti-Aging & More

Joelle Klein

by | Updated: September 4th, 2021 | Read time: 3 minutes

Every few years or so, it seems that there’s a new skincare product that everyone is talking about. Recently, the buzz has been about squalane oil. Or, maybe you’ve heard of squalene oil? Both are lightweight moisturizers. Why do they sound so similar?

Well, the truth is one is derived from the other. Squalene oil is produced naturally in our skin. “Our sebum, for example, contains about 13% of squalene,” says Florida-based dermatologist Anna H. Chacon, MD. It helps moisturize and protect our skin from UV radiation, pollution and carcinogens. It’s also found in plants and animals. However, outside its natural environment, squalene is not very stable.

Squalane oil is the derived from squalene oil through hydrogenation. In the squalane form, it’s more user-friendly when it comes to skincare.

What is Squalane Represented by Hands Holding Oil Dropper Against Brown Solid Background | Vitacost.com/blog

Squalane benefits to know

As with many buzz-worthy skincare components such as collagen and hyaluronic acid, squalene production declines as we get older. Low levels of squalene can leave your skin feeling dry and dull. However, adding squalane oil to your skincare regimen can provide numerous anti-aging, moisturizing and even anti-acne benefits.

Acure The Essentials 100% Plant Squalane Oil | Vitacost.com/blogIt primarily acts as a barrier, protecting your skin from the elements and sealing in moisture. It absorbs quickly, leaving your skin feeling soft without a shiny, slippery residue like other oils. Equally as appealing, it improves your skin’s texture by boosting elasticity and collagen production.

Does slathering oil on your skin sound scary, especially for those with acne tendencies? While it may sound counterintuitive to coat your skin with oil if you have acne concerns, squalane oil is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores. Also, it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities, so it can clear your acne while calming your skin and it also helps soothe eczema and psoriasis.

But its moisturizing benefits don’t stop with your skin. It can also help seal moisture in your hair shaft, making it shinier and less prone to breakage. And, it can help soothe dry, rough cuticles if you massage it onto your nailbeds.

Dr. Chacon says its benefits go beyond superficial help. “Squalene and its oil are also biologically active,” she explains. “Several features have been found include an antioxidant and anti-cancer effect. Given promising findings from clinical studies, squalene has been considered important in practical and clinical use within dermatology and clinical medicine.”

How to use squalane oil

While squalane’s buzz may be recent, the product has been around for a long time. Traditionally, it came from sharks. “Shark liver oil contains large amounts of squalene that has been used for decades as a form of traditional medicine,” says Dr. Chacon.

Life-Flo Pure Olive Squalane Oil | Vitacost.com/blogFortunately, the majority (unfortunately, not all) of beauty companies derive their squalane oil from other more environmentally friendly, cruelty-free and sustainable sources such as olive oil, rice bran, and sugar cane. It’s important to note the source of the squalane oil when you purchase a product. It should be 100 percent plant-sourced.

To use it on your skin, clean and dry first. Then, massage a few drops onto your clean face, neck and décolleté, or after you’ve applied a serum, but before your moisturizer and sunscreen. For your hair, drip a few drops into your scalp, massage and then comb through to the ends. And don’t forget your nail beds! Finally, save a few drops to massage into your cuticles.

Another benefit of squalane oil is that it can be used on all skin types. As with any skincare product, you risk irritation or an allergic reaction, so try it in small amounts first. After that, look for a 100% squalane oil product or as an ingredient in a skin cream or hair product.