Hydrated skin is healthy skin. It looks younger, suppler, and plumper. It remains resilient when surrounded by harmful environmental factors. And it’s less oily-looking, less prone to irritation, and even allows makeup to adhere more easily.
To stay hydrated, our skin creates oils that both attract and trap moisture. But it’s not always enough. Simple skincare regimens (like using a nourishing facial cleanser followed by an oil-infused moisturizer) reinforce what our skin is trying to do for itself.
In discussions about skincare, two oils, similarly spelled, show up again and again: squalene and squalane.
In this guide, we’ll explain the difference between these two oils. We will describe how they’re produced, what they do, and how to use them.
Finally, we’ll present a few ways anyone can benefit from their nourishing power.
What is squalene?
Squalene, spelled with one a and two e’s, is an oil produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands. It makes up 13% of the sebum, which is comprised of:
- Wax esters
- Cholesterol and cholesterol esters
Squalene’s job is to form a barrier on your skin to trap moisture. It’s also a powerful antioxidant (more on this later). And unfortunately, after age 30, our sebaceous glands slow the production of squalene. Our skin gets drier, rougher, and starts to show signs of aging.
But you can’t bottle squalene! Unfortunately, apart from your body, it’s chemically unstable.
That’s where squalane comes in.
What is squalane?
Squalane (two a’s and one e) is hydrogenated squalene. They’re nearly the same molecule, but squalane is stable enough to bottle thanks to the addition of hydrogen.
Added to moisturizers, it acts as part of the sebum and gives users the same benefits of squalene.
Not long ago, however, ethically produced squalane was hard to find.
Where does squalane come from?
In 1910, Japanese scientist Mitsumaro Tsjuiimoto discovered squalene in shark liver oil — specifically, sharks from the family Squalidae.
However, it wasn’t until 1950 that French chemist Sebastien Sabetay discovered he could stabilize the squalene molecule through hydrogenation (making squalane). When squalane first appeared in moisturizers, it almost always came from sharks or other animals.
Thankfully, scientists discovered squalene in plant sources: grains, nuts, and seeds. Much of what moisturizers employ today comes from olives — it’s a natural byproduct of the olive oil refinery process.
BeeNaturals moisturizers always contain ethically produced plant-derived squalane.
The Main Benefits of Squalane
Since squalane acts like part of our sebum, it produces the results our sebaceous glands naturally accomplish before our squalene production slows down.
Here are some of the reasons we use squalane in our moisturizers:
BENEFIT #1: Squalane keeps skin hydrated.
Squalane is an “occlusive emollient” preventing TEWL, or trans-epidermal water loss. Its occlusive properties allow it to form a barrier that traps water in your skin.
We often pair it with another chemical found in healthy skin cells: hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning it attracts water. In this way, the two chemicals work as a team — one draws water to the skin, the other keeps it there.
BENEFIT #2: Squalane doesn’t leave an oily residue.
Every person is different, but for most people with dry, oily, combination, or even acne-prone skin, squalane is safe and helpful. Its profile is light, silky, and unlikely to irritate the skin.
Squalane is noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores the way other oils can. Clogged pores are an enemy to beautiful skin, causing whiteheads, blackheads, and acne.
BENEFIT #3: It keeps skin protected and youthful.
Squalane is an antioxidant — it protects the skin from free radicals. These are unstable oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. Free radicals are everywhere, found in smoke, UV radiation, and pollution.
Free radicals aren’t all bad. Our body produces them to help fight bacteria and viruses. But when antioxidants don’t counterbalance them, our bodies suffer “oxidative stress” — a contributing factor both in inflammation and the aging process.
Since squalane and squalene are antioxidants, they help reverse signs of aging, guard against sunburn, repair damaged skin, and may even help prevent skin cancer.
BENEFIT #4: It’s an anti-inflammatory.
Squalane reduces the dry skin, redness, and swelling associated with inflammation. Therefore, squalane infused moisturizers can help those suffering from:
That last one — acne — may be a surprise. Since our natural oils can clog our pores, it seems like the addition of an oil is a bad idea for those with acne. Though this is not a one-size-fits-all solution, squalane doesn’t typically clog pores. It can help reduce the symptoms of acne, namely, redness and swelling.
How can I get the benefits of squalane for my skin?
BeeNaturals uses ethically produced squalane in our products. And we’ve targeted our formulations for specific skin types.
For extremely dry and dehydrated skin, try Creme Luxe Intense Moisture. This rich and luxurious moisturizer hydrates the skin, boosts collagen formation, and reduces inflammation. It even helps reduce scars and fine lines.
To combat fine lines and wrinkles even further, add a couple of drops of our Queen Bee Facial Serum after cleansing and moisturizing. Though not recommended for oily or acne-prone skin, it’s especially effective for those with very dry or mature skin.
For oily, combination, or moderately dry skin, our Rose Geranium Moisture Veil is light and silky. Rose and rose geranium oils nourish the skin and provide an easy, pleasant scent as well. Suitable for all skin types, it’s an excellent choice for those who don’t want something as heavily occlusive as Crème Luxe Intense Moisture.