Squalane for Skin: The Complete Guide

Skin Care
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Squalane for Skin: The Complete Guide

A serious multitasker, squalane goes above and beyond the moisturizing call of duty, providing a multitude of benefits for your skin. This so-called beauty elixir is both protective and corrective while safe for all skin types. Meet squalane — the go-getter that should be integral to any skincare arsenal.

Whether you're looking to preserve skin's moisture, balance sebum, offset free radicals, or maintain a healthy glow, squalane is your go-to, the one that leaves you with maybe-she's-born-with-it skin. Even better, this ingredient will won't clog your pores or make them feel heavy. Squalane has begun to grow in attention, and we imagine after reading about its incredible properties you will be running to the store to find your own squalane product. 

What is Squalane?

To understand what squalane is , you should know what squalene is. Despite the similar names, they are different. Squalene is a lipid naturally found in sebum, along with waxes, cholesterol, and triglycerides.1

To put it another way, squalene is built into the  skin's as a naturally moisturizing factor. But due to the low stability of squalene when exposed to air ( oxidation), a derivative was born. Enter: squalane. In other words, squalane is just squalene with hydrogen added to make it more stable. In the past squalane was derived from sharks liver, however, thankfully most brands have switched to more ethical sources, such as sugarcane, rice bran, and olive oil.2

Is Squalane Good for Skin?

Squalane is one of the best ingredients for skin, gentle and safe for all. Since it mimics the skin's natural oil, squalane has emollient benefits, keeps skin hydrated, and prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Not only this, but squalane helps repair the skin barrier, aids in skin regeneration, and also has antioxidant activity.3,4,5

An added bonus of squalane is that even though it's technically an oil, it does not have an oily feel. It is light, non-comedogenic, antibacterial, and is safe for easily reactive and acne-prone skins.6

What Does Squalane Do for Your Skin? Squalane Skin Benefits

It's no secret that squalane benefits can be listed from A to Z. Yes, squalane is gentle, non-greasy, and works for everyone. Not only is it an excellent moisturizer and hinders TEWL, keeping skin plump and bouncy, but squalane regulates sebum, defends against free radicals, and maintains that dewy glow we all crave. 

Take a peep at squalane oil skin benefits:

  • Softens skin
  • Prevents water evaporation
  • Scavenges free radicals
  • Balances sebum
  • Calms inflammation
  • Keeps skin moist
  • Strengthens skin barrier
  • Regenerates tissues

How to Use Squalane on Skin

Squalane is added to various products but is mainly bottled up in serum and oil-based skincare because it's fat-soluble. This means squalane can penetrate the pores, doing its magic at the cellular level for transformative benefits.

So, cleanse, tone, apply squalane, then trap everything in with a moisturizer and SPF in the morning. You can slather your skin in squalane's goodness twice daily, and the great news is that it pairs amazingly with all of your skincare faves. "If squalane is the main or only active in a face oil, there typically will be no issues mixing it into a routine that contains cosmeceutical-strength skincare," says Cheryl Woodman, a scientist and skincare formulator.7

For instance, add squalane if you want to offset the possible irritations by powerful actives (like retinol, glycolic acid, vitamin C). Many products actually use this trick in their formulas — Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum for example.

When Should I Apply Squalane?

To get its perks, apply squalane daily, in both your morning and nighttime routines after water-based products and before moisturizer and sunscreen. Squalane is an emollient, meaning its oily texture tends to sit on the skin before its complete absorption. To lock in its benefits, you'll want to layer moisturizer, which will create a veil that keeps squalane in place until its full absorption.

Can You Use Squalane and Hyaluronic Acid Together?

One of the greatest ways to make your skin happy is by giving it squalane and hyaluronic acid. As the skincare loyal you are, you know hyaluronic acid is a humectant that binds water into the skin. And by now, you also know squalane locks moisture in the skin. What does this mean? Pairing squalane and hyaluronic acid together hydrate the skin and keep that hydration sealed in for bouncy, quenched skin all day long. One thing: start off with hyaluronic acid, then layer squalane.

The Shelf Life of Squalane 

Because squalane is obtained from the hydrogenation of squalene, it is more stable when exposed to our daily environment. Even so it is still susceptible to deactivation with each exposure to air and light. 

Most skincare actives degrade more every time you open them due to exposure to the daily environment. The PAO label may state 6 months, but the reality is nobody knows how you store your products in the first place. Using freshly activated ingredients is the best way to keep them in their peak potency and that's why we created Exponent Beauty. 

Find the Best Squalane Product for You

We all want skincare that delivers. With this in mind, we invite you to take a look at our Product Recommendation List to find the best squalane products clinically proven to benefit the skin. 

Words By: Ana Vasilescu


  • Picardo M, Ottaviani M, Camera E, Mastrofrancesco A. Sebaceous gland lipids. Dermatoendocrinol. March 2009. Source
  • Derek McPhee, PhD, Armelle Pin, Lance Kizer, PhD, and Loren Perelman, PhD, Deriving Renewable Squalane from Sugarcane. July 2014. Source
  • Kim SK, Karadeniz F. Biological importance and applications of squalene and squalane. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2012. Source
  • Eur. J. Lipid Sci. Technol. Squalene: A natural antioxidant? 2009. Source
  • Shanmugarajan TS, Selvan NK, Uppuluri VNVA. Development and Characterization of Squalene-Loaded Topical Agar-Based Emulgel Scaffold: Wound Healing Potential in Full-Thickness Burn Model. December 2021. Source
  • Sethi A, Kaur T, Malhotra SK, Gambhir ML. Moisturizers: The Slippery Road. Indian J Dermatol. 2016. Source
  • Byrdie, Squalane for Skin: Benefits and How to Use. Source


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