Out of nowhere, we see squalane everywhere in skin care. Or is it squalene? Read on below to find out whether this buzzy oil belongs in your skin care routine.
Squalane has been on the skincare market for a long time, but has not received the attention it deserved, until now that is. If you haven’t already noticed them on store shelves, you’ll find this superstar ingredient featured in many of the top-selling brands, including Biossance, Drunk Elephant, The Ordinary, and Tatcha. Squalane is quickly becoming more common as a hero in various Korean skincare products, which we’ll talk about below. Today we’ll be discussing what squalane is, how it’s derived, and how it should be used.
Squalane Vs. Squalene
If you’re paying attention, you’ve probably seen this ingredient spelled as “squalene” instead of “squalane.” Squalane is a hydrogenated version of squalene, and thus more stable. They are often times used interchangeably, but usually you will find that Squalane is on the ingredient list, even if squalene is in the title or description.
What Is Squalane?
There are two different types of squalane; one that is derived from shark liver oil and one derived from olives (and other plants). Estheticians and dermatologists advise using plant-based squalane since it is extracted ethically. In fact, plant-based squalane is most commonly used these days and most brands will explicitly mention the source right on the packaging.
"Hydrogenation of olive–derived squalane gives it stability and enables its use in skincare," says Barbara Close, esthetician, herbalist, and founder and president of Naturopathica.
"It's a luxurious, non–comedogenic oil that the skin readily absorbs due to its similarity to the skin's own sebum." (This means that because squalene is naturally produced by our body, your skin easily recognizes its squalane derivative and, therefore, knows what to do with it.)
Incorporating this emollient ingredient into your nightly [routine] will prevent moisture loss and boost cell regeneration.
“Squalene is naturally present in the skin’s lipid barrier," says Mollie Jensen, senior manager of product sustainability and compliance for Biossance. "It helps prevent moisture loss and increases a soft, supple feel."
Squalane also allows other ingredients to absorb and penetrate more efficiently into the skin. At the end of the day, squalane makes for a more radiant, youthful face.
How and When to Apply Squalane
Now that you know what squalane is, let’s discuss how to use it.
This ingredient can be found either in pure form, or as an ingredient within a list of ingredients. In its pure form, apply a couple drops directly to your face following cleansing, toning, active ingredient treatments, and serums. You can also incorporate a couple drops into your go-to serum or cream.
If squalane is one ingredient in a list of many, follow the usage directions on the product.
Squalane is generally lightweight and non-comedogenic, but if you’re concerned about breakouts, make sure you do a test spot before slathering it all over your face.
As mentioned, squalane is popping up in K-beauty ingredient lists more and more regularly.
The Olivarrier Fluid Oil is 100% olive-derived squalane oil. The formula feels light but is no joke when it comes to strengthening the skin barrier, preventing moisture loss, and giving skin a healthy glow.
The ingredient helps seal in moisture provided by hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid in the Olivarrier Dual Moist Hyaluron essence .
Editor's Note: All of the products mentioned above use plant-based squalane.