If you’ve already heard of squalane oil, it’s likely for a good reason: The ingredient is an MVP among moisturizing agents. You can find it in masks, oils, and balms alike, where it softens and smooths skin and supports its protective moisture barrier. But before you categorize it with other powerful moisturizing staples, such as hyaluronic acid, here’s what it makes it stand apart.
What is squalane oil?
It’s impossible to talk about squalane without first discussing squalene. “Squalene is a part of the normal secretion of oil glands,” says Michele Farber, MD, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. It’s one of the most common lipids produced by and throughout the body, though the bulk of it exists within skin — in fact, it accounts for 13% of your skin’s sebum content. There, it keeps skin moisturized and fortifies the skin barrier, serving as the mortar to fill in between the skin cells (the bricks, in this particular analogy). Not only that, but squalene also double as an antioxidant, repairing and defending skin against the cellular damage and collagen loss that results from oxidation.
Unfortunately, though maybe not surprising, the production of squalene takes a nosedive once you hit your 30s, leading to dry skin and greater potential for irritation. That’s where squalane oil comes in. “Squalane is a hydrogenated compound of squalene,” says Farber. “This makes it stable for longer periods in skin products.” This derivative used to be harvested from shark livers, but these days, it’s commonly sourced from plants. At True Botanicals — where you can find squalane oil in Clear and Renew Pure Radiance Oils, and both Repair Serums — we extract ours from olives.
How squalane oil benefits skin
As with squalene, squalane oil acts as an emollient and is therefore tasked with keeping skin moisturized by both trapping moisture within skin and preventing transepidermal moisture loss. “It is great for hydration and helps to replace the moisture barrier,” Farber says.
And not only is it better suited for skincare products than squalene, but squalane also has the advantage of being an oil that doesn’t seem like an oil — rather, it feels weightless on skin and sinks in quickly. It’s also non-comedogenic, safe for sensitive skin types, and even offers antibacterial properties. All that to say: It’s ideal for most skin types, and even for those who have atopic dermatitis and and psoriasis.
Finally, it pairs well with other active ingredients, notes Farber, which is why you can find it with other potent moisturizing ingredients, such as barrier-supporting ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid. Haven’t yet incorporated it into your routine? Now is the perfect time to start.