Squalene, a skincare ingredient making waves, is present in your favorite overnight masks, preferred cleansers, and even your go-to hair products. But what exactly is squalene?
If that’s the question bringing you here, we’re delighted to capture your interest. Squalene is an oily liquid with super-hydrating properties, making it a champion in locking moisture into the skin. Formulated in the shape of Tatcha’s Essence Stick, it consists of 80% squalene.
Squalene vs Squalane
In your quest for skincare and hair care products containing squalene, you might come across the term “squalane”(with an “a”), which seems a bit confusing. Both compounds are organic and naturally present in human sebum, the oil secreted through our pores.
However, what distinguishes squalene from squalane, and why do we bottle it? Squalene is a lipid, also known as a fat, naturally produced by oil glands in our skin to moisturize and maintain our skin barrier.
Like many other naturally occurring compounds with beauty benefits, our body’s production of squalene decreases with age. Scientists have found a way to obtain squalene from plant and animal sources. Still, since fat molecules are unstable in their natural state, they need to be hydrogenated (combined with hydrogen) to convert them into squalane, producing a shelf-stable product. For this reason, squalane is more commonly used as a cosmetic ingredient than squalene, and its usage concentration is much higher. Some brands even offer 100% pure squalane as a skincare product.
Sources of Squalene
Traditionally, it was sourced from the liver of sharks, where it naturally occurs in high concentrations. (In fact, that’s where squalene got its name, as “Squalus” is a genus of sharks.) However, due to ethical concerns, many major beauty companies have abandoned shark-derived squalene, turning to other sources. Fortunately, this organic compound can also be extracted from various plants, including olive oil, rice bran, wheat germ, and sugarcane.
Benefits of Squalane Oil for Skin and Hair:
- Excellent Moisturizing Properties: Squalane oil helps retain moisture and keeps the skin and hair hydrated.
- Enhanced Brightness and Vitality: Squalane oil aids in repairing the skin barrier, preventing moisture loss, protecting against environmental irritants, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and even contributing to a reduction in redness.
- Natural Antioxidant Characteristics: Beyond moisturizing and anti-aging benefits, squalene’s properties have been found to counteract free radical damage in the skin.
- Restoration of Softness to Dry Skin: Easily absorbed by the skin, squalene, being a component of our skin’s natural lipid mix, serves as both a moisturizer and sealer. It lightens in texture, leaving the skin feeling non-greasy.