As human beings, we’re all born with our own innate skin-moisturizing mechanisms in place. We have things like oil glands to protect us from UV exposure and prevent TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss). However as we mature, the amount of natural moisture that we produce does start to decrease dramatically, which leads to signs of skin aging (like fine lines and wrinkles).
Fortunately, there’s a moisturizer out there that is so biologically similar to the oil that our own bodies produce, we can counteract the dryness pretty easily. Called “squalane,” this lightweight and gentle oil is all but indistinguishable from the oil that our bodies create. But unlike other, heavier oils (coconut oil, we’re looking at you), squalane isn’t going to clog your pores and lead to nasty breakouts all over your face. (1)
Even better, it can actually provide a variety of fantastic skin benefits that you won’t find in any other type of oil out there. Excited to learn more about what squalane is and how it can help keep your skin soft and supple? Keep reading friends… because we’re confident that you’re going to be just as stoked about squalane as we are by the time you’re done learning all about it!
What is Squalane?
In the most basic of terms, squalane is a natural moisturizer that can help deliver numerous impressive benefits to your skin. While it’s been around since 1916, when a chemist by the name of Tsujimoto Mitsumaru first discovered that you can hydrogenize squalene (emphasis on the “e” here, since this is a different substance in nature when compared to squalane), it’s all but seemingly blown up overnight. (2)
Because of this, you can find squalane in nearly every high-end, cosmetically-elegant product on the market today. From a luxurious hydrating face mask you can wear at night, to the lip balms you slather on during the day, squalane has definitely become fairly ubiquitous in the more recent years. That said, there’s a reason for this popularity, and it all boils down to the structure of this particular oil itself.
Like we just mentioned, squalane is extremely similar to the naturally occurring moisturizers already found in your own skin. Squalene is different though, and we’ll touch on more in a moment. Thanks to its chemical makeup, squalane is super gentle, super safe, and most importantly? It’s also super effective in delivering that much-needed moisture right into your epidermis (your beautiful skin 😉).
Squalane vs. Squalene
Okay, so, like we said a moment ago here: squalane and squalene are somewhat different from one another. Now, chemically this isn’t a very dramatic difference and it’s actually fairly subtle overall, which is actually a good thing when it comes to skincare. But before you can really understand what squalane is, however, you need to know a bit more about squalene.
Squalene is a naturally occurring moisturizer found in animal skin. In fact, up to 12 percent of your skin’s sebum (that oily residue that resides on the surface of your epidermis) is actually comprised of a the lipid squalene. (3)
When you’re born, your body produces much more squalene and you have higher levels of it in your system. As you start to get older, those amounts begin to decline steadily over the years until it’s just a fraction of what it used to be. That’s why more mature folks find themselves needing to reach for that bottle of hydrating serum or stem cell moisturizer more often than their younger counterparts.
On the other hand, squalane (with the “a” instead of the “e”) is the hydrogenated version of this oil, which comes from external sources from outside your body. Because squalene is so chemically unstable, though, it will start to oxidize immediately after it’s extracted from its source. Because of this chemical instability, it needs to be converted into squalane right away.
Without being transformed into squalane, it can lead to the oil becoming rancid. From there, this will transform your squalene from being something awesome to becoming something that can actually harm your skin. (We’re talking acne, irritation, and possible free-radical damage, all nasty stuff that you definitely want to avoid.) (4)
That aside, you’re probably wondering where this squalene-becomes-squalane oil is derived. Well, you can find squalene in a wide number of sources, ranging from plant matter to hidden away inside the organs of certain animals. For instance, squalene can be derived from fermented sugarcane, fresh olives, rice bran, and even wheat germ. (5)
Another popular source for squalene is from the livers of sharks. Before you start humming the Jaws theme quietly to yourself, though, it’s important to recognize the repercussions of harvesting and killing these animals for their squalene. Sadly, it takes some 3,000 sharks to create a single ton of squalene oil, and many species of sharks are now endangered due to the harvesting of their parts. (6 & 7)
(Don’t worry! The squalane used in CLEARSTEM products is totally plant-derived, which means that you can apply it to your skin with a clear conscience.)
At the end of the day, your skin really can’t tell the difference between the squalene found in your own sebum and the hydrogenated squalane derived from the squalene found in nature. What you decide to do is always a personal decision, but just keep in mind that in the squalane vs squalene debate, plant-derived squalene is going to be just as great for your skin as the already-existing oil in your acid mantle.
Skin Benefits of Squalane
Of course, it’s one thing to tell you all about what squalane is and where it comes from. It’s another one entirely to actually break down the real-deal skin benefits of using it. If you’re interested in introducing squalane into your beauty regimen and learning more about what is squalane good for, then you’ll definitely want to check out these five amazing skin benefits that they provide!
Benefit #1: Squalane is an incredible, super lightweight moisturizer.
Because squalane is so similar to your own sebum, it only makes sense that it’s going to be a perfect fit for your skincare routine. And since it has such low molecular weight, it’s going to absorb almost immediately into your skin – but without leaving a greasy film on it afterward. (8)
Benefit #2: The formula is non-comedogenic and safe for acne.
You might be thinking that since squalane is so absorbent and mimics your skin’s own sebum so well that it’s going to be a breakout waiting to happen. Think again, though, friends. Squalane is actually quite non-comedogenic, which means you won’t break out when using it on your face and body. (9)
Benefit #3: Its anti-inflammatory properties can help soothe sensitive or irritated skin.
If your skin is prone to acne, redness, or erythema, then take heart. Squalane is actually the perfect remedy for taming that ticked-off skin, thanks to its natural anti-inflammatory nature. Simply smooth it on, then watch the redness and irritation go buh-bye. (10)
Benefit #4: Squalane is brimming with free-radical fighting antioxidants.
As you probably already know, free radicals are one of the worst things that can happen to not only your body, but also to your skin. Leading to oxidative damage, it can accelerate the aging process, making you look and feel older than you really are. It can also lead to systemic inflammation as well, affecting your overall well being.
Squalane has been shown to be high in antioxidants, which help combat the oxidative stress that leads to the formation of free radicals in your body. The result is going to be much more healthy, youthful skin overall. (11)
Benefit #5: And finally, squalane also improves your skin’s elasticity.
We’re kinda piggybacking off the previous squalane benefits here, but it was important enough that we wanted to give it its own moment in the spotlight. Remember how we were talking about how squalane is pretty amazing against free radicals and oxidative stress? Well… you wanna guess what’s one of the biggest triggers of collagen loss and aging?
Yup, it’s those darned pesky free radicals. By supplementing your beauty routine with squalane, you can help actually reverse the signs of aging by restoring your body’s endemic collagen levels. In turn, you’ll start to notice firmer, smoother skin overall, free from those fine lines and wrinkles that can affect your self-esteem and your general appearance. (12)
Is Squalane Good for Acne?
For those of you who have struggled with acne, you already know how frustrating this skin condition can be. Not only can it start to affect your self-esteem whenever you look in the mirror or take a selfie, but one thing that many people don’t realize is that it can actually physically hurt to the touch, too.
Trying to find a lasting treatment for it is a must on every acne sufferer’s to-do list, but it can be fairly tricky to find the right products that can help you achieve this goal. Furthermore, not having properly moisturized skin can actually make your acne worse, leading to even further breakouts. But what can you do to keep your skin moist and supple when it seems like nearly everything is going to trigger a breakout on your face? (13)
This is where squalane really shines. Not only is it anti-inflammatory and non-comedogenic – the perfect cocktail for crystal clear skin – but it’s also antibacterial. This means that by dabbing a bit of squalane onto your face, you can take a triple-pronged approach to beating those breakouts once and for all. (9)
These days, many of us are struggling to find the right cocktail of treatments to help us put our best face forward. Far too often, the products that line the store shelves are questionable at best and downright dangerous at worst. By using these iffy products, you’re opening yourself up to a myriad of skin and health issues, like redness and acne and irritation and other nasty stuff.
But squalane, on the other hand, is impressively gentle and entirely natural. With all of the incredible known benefits that it offers, there’s really no reason to not find a way to sneak it into your beauty and skincare routine.
From applying it to your face at night after washing it to mixing it with another moisturizer, squalane is going to be your new favorite secret weapon in your beauty arsenal. You’ll be able to both look and feel your very best, all without having to worry about accidentally harming yourself with questionable ingredients.
So what’s the bottom line here? Now’s the time to set aside those weird synthetic chemicals and start treating yourself with the respect that you deserve by incorporating more natural and good-for-you ingredients into your self-care regimen. And now that you know how fantastic squalane is – complete with all of the impressive benefits that come with it – the only thing you’ll be wondering is why you didn’t use it sooner!
Source 1: Maintaining skin health in older people https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31469260/
Source 2: The Efficacy of Squalene in Cardiovascular Disease Risk-A Systematic Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071298/
Source 3: Sebaceous gland lipids https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835893
Source 4: Oxidation of squalene by singlet oxygen and free radicals results in different compositions of squalene monohydroperoxide isomers https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29904110/
Source 5: Methods for Obtaining and Determination of Squalene from Natural Sources https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4324104/
Source 6: From Sharks to Yeasts: Squalene in the Development of Vaccine Adjuvants https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8951290/
Source 7: Endangered Ocean: Sharks https://oceantoday.noaa.gov/endoceansharks/
Source 8: Squalane https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Squalane
Source 9: Moisturizers: The Slippery Road https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4885180/
Source 10: Interdependence of Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties of Squalene–Implication for Cardiovascular Health https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7911491/
Source 11: Biological and Pharmacological Activities of Squalene and Related Compounds: Potential Uses in Cosmetic Dermatology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6253993/
Source 12: Free Radicals and Extrinsic Skin Aging https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3299230/
Source 13: Skin care for acne-prone skin https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279208/