All There is To Know About Squalane & Squalene

Squalane For Skin

Even though several things can damage our skin, we are surrounded by an abundance of topical ingredients to undo the damage. Plus, more and more of these new skincare ingredients seem to mimic our skin’s components. Fatty acids, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and now, we have squalane.

Apparently, we have this in common with sharks! Confused? No worries. Here’s everything you need to know about squalane, its benefits for your skin, and the best way to use it. But first things first. You can’t talk about squalane without talking about squalene, with an “e”!

What Is Squalene?

Squalene is an oil naturally found in your skin’s sebum, which also includes triglycerides, fatty acids, and ceramides. Together, these oils keep your skin barrier intact and your skin moisturized and soft.

Besides your skin, squalene is found in large amounts in shark liver oil. When the word got out, it worried a lot of people as sharks should not be the main source of skincare products.

But luckily, squalene is also commonly found in olive oil, wheat-germ oil, palm oil, amaranth oil, and rice bran oil (1). So not all squalene products are derived from shark liver.

What Is Squalane?

Squalane is the modified and more stable version of squalene and is commonly used in skincare as a moisturizing ingredient. So unlike popular opinion, the main difference between squalane and squalene is not that one is derived from sharks and the other one is cruelty-free. Both squalane and squalene can be derived from plant and animal sources.

Why Would Squalane Be Derived From Shark Liver?

You’d think that a shark-based moisturizer would be much more expensive than a plant-based one, right? Not really! Plant-derived squalane is more expensive. According to Dr. Ebru Karpuzoglu MSc., PhD., founder of the clean beauty brand AveSeena, there’s a simple explanation.

“It takes around 70 hours of processing time to obtain olive oil squalane with purity more than 92%. However, only 10 hours is needed to obtain shark squalane with 98% purity. Furthermore, 50 kg of olive oil squalane can be produced from 2.5 acres of land, which needs much more manpower and time. This can explain why plant-derived squalane has been more expensive than the shark squalane” (2).

As we’ve established, there are great plant sources for squalane. And as long as you pay attention to your products and question the origin of the ingredients, you’re good.

Benefits of Squalane for Skin

Better Moisture

The most important benefit of squalane used in skincare products is its emollience. This makes it a great moisturizer for all skin types. Better moisture equals softer and smoother skin with less visible wrinkles and fine lines.


It can be difficult to hydrate oily skin as certain moisturizers can cause blackheads and acne. But squalane is non-comedogenic, meaning that you can use it even if you have acne-prone skin.


We all love face oils, especially during colder months. But certain oils can feel heavy, and clog pores, making it difficult to enjoy one when your skin is parched. Squalane is light and doesn’t feel heavy on the skin. That’s why it’s commonly formulated alone in face oils.

How To Use Squalane in Skincare

If you have dry skin, you’ll benefit from squalane the most if you use products that also contain similar ingredients. Moisturizers that combine squalane with ceramides and fatty acids will be more helpful in getting rid of dryness, and irritation caused by dryness. You can also try squalane cleansers to avoid drying your skin post-cleanse.

If you have oily and acne-prone skin, make sure your squalane moisturizer doesn’t contain comedogenic ingredients. Use oil-free squalane moisturizers to hydrate without clogging your pores.

If you’re using anti-aging products that contain active ingredients like retinol, you might be experiencing sensitivity or irritation. Using squalane oil or a moisturizer made with squalane before applying your retinol cream will reduce irritation. That way, you prevent the active ingredients from disrupting your skin barrier.

So this is how squalane works, its benefits, how to use it, and the difference between squalane and squalene. If you’re ready to give it a try and see some squalane oils or creams, here are the best squalane skincare products to get started.


  1. Huang, Z. R., Lin, Y. K., & Fang, J. Y. (2009). Biological and pharmacological activities of squalene and related compounds: potential uses in cosmetic dermatology. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)14(1), 540–554.
  2. Karpuzoglu, E. (2018, March 24). What is Squalane in skincare? Why should you care? AveSeena.

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