SKIN THIRSTY? SQUALANE IS THE ‘BIG GULP’ OF MOISTURIZERS FOR DRY COMPLEXIONS
Hyaluronic acid is like the popular girl in school—the captain of the skin-care cheer squad, if you will. But as if plucked from a throwback cheer movie of your choosing: Another hydrating ingredient is giving it a run for its place in your skin squad, looking for v-i-c-t-o-r-y for your complexion. That ingredient is squalane.
Like hyaluronic acid, squalene (its base compound) is naturally made within your our bodies. “Squalene is a lipid in our sebum produced naturally by our own bodies,” says Liana Cutrone, a skin therapist with Heyday. Also like hyaluronic acid, it tends to diminish within your body as you age—which is why it’s a good addition to your skin-care products.
In skin-care formulations, squalene originally came from shark liver oil, which is obviously frowned upon for its sourcing. You can get it from plants, though—Cutrone points out that common sources include amaranth seed, rice bran, and wheat germs. Naissan Wesley, MD, FACMS, a board-certified dermatologist and Arbonne scientific advisory board member, adds that you can also find it from extra virgin olive oil. But squalene “must often be hydrogenated first to give it stability,” she says—because it’s not particularly stable on it’s own. Squalane, however, is completely hydrogenated squalene, which is why it’s more common on skin-care shelves. “Squalane is more commonly used as it’s typically more stable in products,” says Cutrone.
The reason you can find it on every shelf? It’s super hydrating and calming on skin. “Squalane and squalene act as lubricants on the skin to help give it a soft, smooth appearance,” says Dr. Wesley, who says they’re both helpful for all skin types. To add the moisturizing essential to your own regimen, keep scrolling for squalane-spiked skin-care products to stock up on.
This summer I got an incredibly painful sunburn after spending a few hours on the beach on a foggy day. I foolishly thought the clouds meant I didn’t need to wear sunscreen, and I was left with bright red, peeling skin. Instead of reaching for a bottle of neon green aloe gel from the drugstore, I reached for a surprisingly inexpensive product I swear by for soothing my skin: squalane.
I’m all for slathering my face and body with the best ingredients in the name of my skin’s short- and long-term health, but it gets expensive — and squalane is a great budget-friendly option for addressing my burns in the summer and my dry, itchy skin in the winter.
Intrigued yet? Here’s everything you need to know about this mysterious skin care ingredient.
What is squalane, and where does it come from?
Squalane (pronounced s
kwey-leen), is a ingredient that’s typically derived from two sources: the liver oil of deep sea sharks and vegetable oils.
If that doesn’t sound like something you want to slather on your face, don’t worry. For example, the squalane @skincaresimplified ― skin care line that introduced me to the ingredient — comes from renewable sugarcane.
Human skin produces its own version of squalane called squalene, which the body uses it to lock in moisture, including to stay healthy and hydrated during the winter.
“It’s one of the many natural lipids your body produces to lubricate and protect your skin,” said dermatopathologist Dr. Gretchen Frieling.
How do you use squalane?
Now that you know where squalane comes from, how can you put it to use?
First and foremost, squalane makes for an excellent non oil face and body moisturizer because it acts as an antioxidant and emollient.
“Because the skin already makes its own version of squalane, it easily penetrates and replenishes the natural moisture barrier,”.
“It’s gentle enough to use on skin of all ages and skin types, even sensitive,”.
Squalane also helps soothe eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis, according to Frieling, and protects skin from free radicals that can lead to signs of premature aging.
Frieling said you can also use it on your nails (it’s great for cuticles), under-eye area and lips (it heals chapped lips better than many lip balms). It can also help revive dry hair.
Just as when squalane is applied to the skin, when it’s used on your hair, it mimics your hair’s natural sebum. If you live in an area with extreme weather patterns, applying squalane is especially beneficial in preventing weather damage by maintaining moisture and sustaining the hair’s natural softness.