What Is Squalane?
Squalane is a molecule we are born with in abundance, but like the hyaluronic acid molecule, squalene amounts decrease as we age. It is a main component in sebum, the oily, waxy substance produced by the body’s sebaceous glands that moisturizes and protects our skin. Sebum is essential to protecting the skin barrier, helps to prevent water loss, and can also provide anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant benefits.
Where Does Squalane Come From?
Squalene and squalane can be developed in several ways. Historically, squalene was derived from the livers of sharks. (Yes, really.) Sharks are unique in that they naturally have extra fat in their livers to maintain buoyancy in deep waters. The main ingredient in shark liver oil? Squalene. Currently, approximately six million sharks are killed annually for their livers, with around 3,000 sharks required to make one ton of squalene. This method has biodiversity consequences and obvious ethical concerns.
What Are the Benefits of Squalane?
As mentioned, squalane mimics the chemical structure of the body’s own squalene and has a host of benefits. The most prominent being moisturization, but it also soothes, calms, and protects the skin barrier. “It’s so good for the skin, no matter how compromised the skin barrier is or the type of skin cell,” explains Miguel Borges Pombo, the founder of Ignae, an Azores Islands–based clean skincare line with its own biotechnology, and an international ingredient expert.
Because of its hydrating properties, it’s a star for drier skin. But it’s also lightweight and nongreasy in texture, making it a great option for oily or acne-prone skin too. “It’s almost skin-type immune, so it’s great for younger people, it’s great for older people, regardless of if your skin is drier or more moisturized,” Borges Pombo explains. It can also help soothe conditions like eczema and psoriasis, calm skin after sun exposure, and even tame frizz.