What is squalane?
Squalane is a natural emollient that is derived from olives, rice bran and sugarcane. It is also found in high concentrations in shark livers, according to Oceana. Shark liver used to be the most common source, but it is not used much anymore due to ethical reasons. It has hydrating properties, so people of all skin types, especially if you have dry or mature skin, can benefit from using it. It is also anti-inflammatory, so it is considered safe for psoriasis-prone skin, studies show.
As you get older, your skin produces less oil, making your skin drier. Squalane can imitate your skin’s natural oil and keep it hydrated. You can also use it to nourish and strengthen your hair.
What does squalane do for skin?
Squalane is an antioxidant and detoxifier that can protect your skin from free-radical damage. It is an emollient, so it can boost your skin's hydration, keeping it smooth and healthy. Regular use can make your skin firmer because it increases collagen production. Moisturizing your hair with squalane can help prevent breakage, protect it from further damage and make it shiny.
Squalane vs. squalene
Squalene (with an ‘e’) is a type of oil made by your skin to keep it hydrated and maintain its moisture barrier. Squalane (with an ‘a’) is the hydrogenated and stable form of squalene derived from sugarcane, olives and rice bran used in skincare products.
How to use squalane
Squalane is primarily available in oil form, but it is also available in serum and cream form mixed with other ingredients. After you cleanse your skin, apply your other serums first. Then you can massage a small amount of squalane on your skin. Follow up with moisturizer and sunscreen during the day. If you are using it at night, you can use it before or after your moisturizer.
For your hair, use a few drops of squalane oil to massage your scalp and apply the rest on your hair before rinsing it out in the shower, or you can also leave it overnight.
How much does squalane cost?
You can expect to pay from about $8-$125 and up for squalane. Drugstore brands make them in the $8-$29 price range. You can find premium brands that contain squalane for $30-$124. If you don’t mind splurging, you can find high-end products for $125 or more.
Is squalane good for acne-prone skin? A. Yes, it is. It is lightweight and non-comedogenic, so it can moisturize your skin and help prevent breakouts without clogging your pores.
Can I use squalane every day? A. Yes, you can. It is the least-irritating oil, so you can use it every day to hydrate and protect your skin.
Does squalane have side effects? A. Squalane is odorless and does not irritate most skin types. However, if you are using it for the first time, consult a dermatologist or do a patch test to ensure you are not allergic to it.
Best squalane products
Best cleanser with squalane The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser: available at Amazon, Sephora, SkinStore and Ulta Beauty This lightweight balm can remove all impurities and makeup without drying your skin while protecting your skin’s moisture barrier.
Best face cream with squalane Kiehl's Since 1851Ultra Facial Cream: available at Sephora, SpaceNK and Ulta Beauty This moisturizing cream has squalane to nourish the skin’s moisture barrier and glycerin to keep you hydrated. It is free of parabens and phthalates and comes in recyclable packaging.
Best squalane face oil Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil: available at Amazon, Credo Beauty and Sephora Made of 100% olive-derived squalane leaves, this facial oil provides intense moisture for soft skin. It is suitable for all skin types, including those with sensitive and blemish-prone skin.
Best squalane with sunscreen Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30: available at Amazon and Sephora A sheer and mineral sunscreen made with sugarcane-derived squalane and 100% non-nano zinc, this product protects your skin from the sun while keeping your skin hydrated. It also has water lily to calm your skin.
Best hair oil with squalane NatureLab. Tokyo Perfect Smooth Hair Oil: available at Amazon and Ulta Beauty This is an oil blend of argan, baobab and marula with squalane to strengthen and moisturize your hair. It also has quinoa to repair and protect it.
Best squalane body cream Augustinus Bader The Body Cream with TFC8® Moisturizer: available at Sephora and Violet Grey This luxurious body cream can reduce the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite while giving your smoother and firmer skin. You can use it on all skin types.
Best splurge MUTHA Face Oil: available at Violet Grey This lightweight face oil comprises 100% natural ingredients and fatty acids to protect, hydrate and soothe your skin. It also has Tsubaki and pomegranate seed oil to protect against environmental stressors and increase collagen production.
Best budget The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane: available at Amazon, Sephora, SkinStore, SpaceNK and Ulta Beauty This vegan and cruelty-free squalane can deeply moisturize your skin and prevent loss of hydration. It is free of silicone, parabens, sulfates and oil.
Best squalane with Vitamin C Summer Fridays CC Me Serum: available at Sephora and SpaceNK This rich serum hydrates with squalane, brightens your skin and reduces hyperpigmentation with vitamin C. It also has a peptide complex to improve skin elasticity.
Best squalane with bakuchiol Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum: available at Amazon and Sephora In addition to providing hydration, this serum has bakuchiol to diminish fine lines and wrinkles, smooth skin texture and minimize pores without irritation. It is safe to use on sensitive skin.
Best squalane with peptides Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Wrinkle Resist Serum: available at Amazon, Sephora, SkinStore and Ulta Beauty In addition to squalane, this potent serum has a 73% peptide and neuropeptide complex to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps to improve skin radiance and texture.