This trendy oil is here to stay—which is why we learned more about squalane’s benefits and included our favourite options to shop
In skin care, there’s no shortage of new ingredients popping up that claim to be skin-saving, wrinkle-erasing and potent fountains of youth. And while we’ve yet to confirm that the fountain of youth exists in beauty product form, we can say that we have a few favourite ingredients that really work. One is squalane. Although it’s not new, squalane is gaining in popularity thanks to a few brands that have championed this oil’s benefits. One such brand is Biossance, which uses the ingredient in all of its products. We spoke to the brand’s head of new product development, Nancy Leung, to learn more about this hot topic oil.
What is Squalane?
Squalene (note the slight spelling difference) is a naturally occurring lipid that’s found in many animals and plants, as well as in human sebum. Though we can extract the oil from olives, sugarcane and wheat germ, a process of hydrogenation is necessary in order to transform the ingredient (squalene) into the skin-friendlier version (squalane). In this saturated form, it is more biocompatible with the skin, meaning all the beneficial properties—which include anti-bacterial, moisturizing and free-radical fighting—are better absorbed into the skin.
How does it work?
While our bodies make this ingredient in the lipid layer of our skin, production drastically decreases after 30. “Squalene levels peak in our teens but decline in our twenties leaving the skin rough, dry and vulnerable,” explains Leung. Supplementing the moisture loss with squalane-rich products provides a protective barrier between the skin and the environment allowing the skin to retain moisture while simultaneously protecting the external layer of the epidermis from stressors like UV rays and pollution.
Who should use it?
“All skin types can benefit from squalane,” says Leung. Though it’s technically an oil, squalane is non-greasy and quickly absorbs into skin, making it a great option for those who tend to steer clear of other oils. It’s also one of the few lipids that won’t clog your pores—making it ideal for those with oily and combination skin types. Dry-skin sufferers will benefit from its highly moisturizing abilities. Bottom line? Squalane is suitable for and well-tolerated by all skin types.
What are the benefits?
Besides preventing moisture loss and restoring skin’s suppleness and flexibility, squalane has some serious anti-aging potential—namely, the oil’s antioxidant properties that protect against free radicals (damaging atoms which wreak havoc on skin cells and collagen). If that’s not enough to earn a spot in your beauty cabinet, squalane’s anti-bacterial properties may reduce symptoms of existing acne like redness. While the hydrocarbon oil is a skin-care hero on its own, it’s especially beneficial when paired with products containing oil-soluble ingredients such as vitamin E and omega fatty acids. Since it’s a natural component of our own sebum, using products with squalene can help other ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin and thus be more effective. So don’t be afraid to use squalane in tandem with your other skin-care favourites.
Not all are created equal
Advances in biotechnology have made plant-based squalane (also known as phytosqualane) readily available for today’s cosmetic formulators, but the ingredient hasn’t always had such a renewable reputation. For decades, cosmetic companies derived the chemical from shark livers, which contain large quantities of the oil—so much so that the name is actually a nod to the Squalidae species. When shopping for formulations, stick to brands that are transparent and use plant-based sources. It’s also important to consider the purity of your squalane pick. “Choosing a squalane with high-purity is important for those with sensitive skin,” says Leung. “The higher the purity, the closer to the natural oil found in the skin and therefore the more likely our skin knows how to use and absorb the ingredient, rather than reject it.”
Try these squalane-rich skin-care products to reap the benefits of this increasingly popular ingredient
Biossance 100% Squalane Oil: Biossance uses a sustainable and high-purity squalane derived from sugarcane in their creams, oils and serums. In fact, the San Francisco-based company believes in the power of squalane so much that it’s the main ingredient in all of their skin-care products.
Biossance 100% Squalane Oil, $68, sephora.ca.
Kopari Coconut Lip Glossy : Squalane, shea butter and coconut oil are a winning combo for moisturized lips. The fatty acids in the coconut oil (were you paying attention?) soak deep into the skin for hydrated yet non-sticky lips.
Kopari Coconut Lip Glossy, $16, sephora.ca.
Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil : This olive-derived squalane oil helps hydrate and balance excess oil. Add a few drops to your moisturizer, hair masks and really anywhere you need an extra moisture boost.
Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil, $40, thedetoxmarket.ca.
Tacha Luminous Dewy Skin Night Concentrate: Squalane lends a hand in delivering Tacha’s signature triad of anti-aging ingredients—green tea, rice and red algae—to your skin. Best applied at night for a more replenished complexion in the morning.
Tacha Luminous Dewy Skin Night Concentrate, $132, sephora.ca.