Squalane. One word, thousands in product ingredient lists. If you stop reading this and rummage through your skin care products right now, I’m sure you can find at least one containing squalane.
What is squalane exactly and why is it so popular?
Well, the story begins from squalene with an ‘e’. Our bodies naturally produce squalene to moisturise our skin. But here’s the catch: as we age, our bodies produce less and less squalene, resulting in dehydrated skin. This probably explains why kids always have the softest, baby smooth skin, whereas us adults struggle more and more to maintain and achieve that kind of hydrated skin. Since our bodies cannot satisfy the level of hydration we need, we turn to external moisturizers, which is where squalane (with an ‘a’ comes) in.
Squalane with an ‘a’ is the hydrogenated form of squalene with an ‘e’, and it is most commonly used in skincare products because the latter oxidises and spoils easily due to its instability as a molecule.
Squalane fantastically softens and soothes the skin because of how it boosts hydration, radiance and plumpness of the skin, according to Dr. Charlene DeHaven. M.D., the clinical director of iS Clinical.
Dr Tiina Meder, the dermatologist and founder of Meder Beauty Science, adds that this ingredient alleviates inflammation, helping to provide relief to those with acne, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and rosacea. “It is even great as part of an anti-ageing regime, increasing skin’s luminosity and vibrancy, lessening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and can also reduce redness,” says Dr Meder.
Besides just benefiting the skin, squalane can practically benefit and be used on your entire body. When applied to your hair, it can help to increase shine and reduce future breakage. It can also help to heal dry, chapped lips and hydrate your cuticles, reducing the likelihood of peeling or breaking of your nails. I’ve heard that some even use squalane as a highlighter – well hello, natural glowy look!
With many merits, it isn’t a surprise to see numerous products carrying this as an ingredient. However, how do we satisfy the rising demand for squalane? In the past, the majority of squalane used in cosmetics and skin care products was derived from an animal that also begins with the letter ‘s’.
The predator becomes the prey – for us humans
Yes, we’re talking about sharks.
To regulate their buoyancy, sharks have oil in their livers, of which squalane can be derived from. Sharks that live in the depths of the sea tend to have more oil in their livers. Hence, shark squalane is extracted from the livers of sharks, from the deeper sea, which tends to be prone to overfishing due to their slow growth, late maturity and low fertility rate, causing them to often become endangered.
In 2014, BLOOM, a non-profit organization that works to preserve marine species and the environment, carried out a test on 72 moisturizing creams with the ingredient “squalane” and found that one out of five moisturizing creams contains shark squalane. Due to the beauty industry, not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of sharks are killed every year for this ingredient.
It’s possible that some of you may immediately recall disaster movies like Jaws and Sharknado, and relate sharks to fear and terror. If they are so scary, why should we care if they die?
To tell the truth, the big decline of top predators like sharks poses a major threat to marine ecosystems. As expected of predators at the top of the food chain, sharks feed on the animals below them in the food chain. When they feed on intermediate predators, sharks help to regulate animal populations. By eating up herbivorous prey and stopping excessive growth in their populations, sharks also help to maintain the amount of primary producers, like plants, in the food chain, which are necessary for the sustenance and healthy balance of ocean ecosystems. This is why it is imperative that we support and use only cruelty free and vegan squalane.
Although there is a downward trend in using shark squalane, some brands are still not making a significant effort to substitute animal squalane with plant-derived squalane despite ethical concerns. Hence, remember to make a conscious effort to look for products that are 100% powered by plants when you’re on a shopping spree.
Application of Squalane Oil
Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare, suggests to follow the routine below:
- Cleanse skin and apply any other serums you’d like.
- Drip a few drops of squalane oil into your palm and massage onto your face.
- Lastly, apply moisturizer to top it all off.
3 Plant-Derived Squalane Products That You Will Love!
1. Daily Boost 100% Squalane Oil by Soul Good Project
Rough skin? Taken care of. Dry nails? Taken care of. Chapped lips? Taken care of. Use this anywhere, even on your hair. This fast absorbing oil is ultra hydrating and is one of our best selling serums.
FYI, squalane can be paired well with many other skincare ingredients, like Vitamins A, C and E, pro-retinols, lipohydroxy acid and salicylic acid. To start off, you can pair this squalane oil with our store’s UpCircle Organic Face Serum With Coffee Oil, which is rich in vitamin C.
2. Handmade Heroes Bakuchiol Cocolicious Luscious Lip Mask
Did you know that Bakuchiol is basically a vegan version of retinol? This is perfect for you if you’re looking for a morning lip balm or night sleeping lip mask to help you get soft, luscious lips without any nasty dry and peeling skin.
3. Kansoskin Simply Better Barrier Cream for Eczema
For plant babies with eczema-prone skin, you can go all out with this cream to boost moisture levels and to reduce signs of sensitivity.
If you’ve tried any of the products I’ve mentioned, please feel free to share your feedback with us in the comments or tag us in an Instagram story! We’d love to hear from you.
BlueCadet. (2019, June 20). Shark Squalene. Oceana USA. https://usa.oceana.org/shark-squalene.
Ducos, L., Guillonneau, V., Le Manach, F., & Nouvian, C. (2015, March). Beauty and the Beast: Shark in our beauty creams. BLOOM Association.
Griffin, E., Miller, K. L., Freitas, B., & Hirshfield, M. (2008, July). Predators as Prey: Why Healthy Oceans Need Sharks. Washington, D.C.; Oceana.
Higuera, V. (2020, October 12). What Is Squalane and What Are Its Benefits for Skin and Hair? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/squalane.
Jeon, H. (2020, March 10). Everything You Need to Know About the Beauty Benefits of Squalane Oil. Good Housekeeping. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/anti-aging/a31046324/what-is-squalane-oil/.
Muttucumaru, A. (2020, March 3). WHAT IS SQUALANE? WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NATURAL MOISTURISER. Get The Gloss. https://www.getthegloss.com/article/squalane-skincare-s-secret-super-ingredient.
Murray, B. (2020, August 26). #BeautyGlossary: Everything you really need to know about squalane. Harper’s BAZAAR. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/beauty/skincare/a33665640/best-squalane-skincare/.
Stimunail. (2019, October 5). Which cuticle oil hydrates best? Stimunail. https://www.stimunail.com/blogs/stimunail/which-cuticle-oil-is-best.
Villett, M. (2018, April 11). How to Heal Your Dry, Chapped Lips: The Best Lip Balms and Treatments That Actually Work. The Skincare Edit. https://theskincareedit.com/2018/04/12/chapped-lips-treatment.