What Is Squalane: A Complete Breakdown on the Anti-Aging Ingredient
We spend our whole lives in our skin, which is also the body’s largest organ. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that caring for our skin is so important.
Unfortunately, properly caring for our skin isn’t always as straightforward and intuitive as we’d like. There are so many different products and ingredients out there, plus all of us have our own unique skincare needs.
As you seek out the right skincare products for you, it’s important to consider what ingredients offer natural, gentle, and high-quality skin support and what works best for your unique skin.
One popular skincare ingredient is squalane. Squalane can do wonders for the skin in creams, serums, and cleansers, but there are also varying ways to source and manufacture this hydrating substance — some of which are better than others.
So what exactly is squalane, how does it differ from the similarly-named squalene, and what should you look for when choosing a product containing squalane? Read on to learn more!
What Is Squalane?
Squalane is a moisturizing substance used in a wide range of skincare products. Its nourishing effect, antioxidant properties, and anti-aging abilities have made it a popular addition to lotions, moisturizers, lip balms, sunscreens, and more.
Learning more about squalane helps you stay informed about the ingredients in your products so that you know exactly what you are putting on your skin.
How Is Squalane Made?
Squalane is actually made from squalene, an oily lipid naturally made in our skin cells. Squalene can be converted into squalane — a more solid and shelf-stable form better suited for skincare products — through a process known as hydrogenation.
Basically, hydrogen is added to squalene through a chemical reaction, transforming it into the squalane found in our products. Squalene is naturally occurring in both plants and animals, meaning squalane can be derived from vegan sources.
Squalane vs. Squalene: What’s the Difference?
Squalene (with an “e”) is a natural-born moisturizer synthesized in the liver. After moving through the bloodstream, it is released as an oil from the sebaceous glands. Squalene makes up about 10 to 12 percent of the oil in our skin; it helps hydrate and protect our skin’s outermost layer.
Squalene also exists naturally in animals and certain plant sources, including olive oil, grapeseed oil, rice bran, and sugarcane. While most abundant in animals (like sharks), these plant sources can be used instead to create ethical, cruelty-free squalane.
Squalane (with an “a”), on the other hand, is what squalene becomes when it reacts with hydrogen molecules.
The main difference between the two is that squalene oxidizes easily — meaning that its form changes once exposed to oxygen. In contrast, the non-reactive chemical structure of squalane keeps it stable, even when contact with oxygen occurs. This means that squalane is more suitable for skincare products, as it can sit on a shelf for a while without oxidizing.
Because squalene oxidizes so easily, it is too unstable to go directly into skincare products. Squalane has the same naturally soothing benefits, with the added benefit of lasting in our skincare products.
Ethically Sourced Squalane: What To Look For
Now that we know where squalene is naturally found, it is important to understand how squalene can be sourced before it is converted into squalane in your skincare products.
Historically, squalene has been harvested from shark livers. Why?
Shark livers contain an abundant amount of fatty oils, like squalane, compared to other animals, as it helps them withstand the pressure of the deep ocean.
This is a worrying practice that results in approximately 2.7 million sharks being killed yearly for their livers.
Here at Bite, we believe caring for our planet goes hand and hand with caring for our skin, and we go to great lengths to keep our products from harming our ocean-dwelling friends. That means creating plastic-free products to keep waste out of our oceans and using ingredients that are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
We only source the squalane used in our products from ethical, vegan, and plant-based sources.
Why Seek Out Squalane for Your Skincare Routine?
Using products with ethically sourced squalane for your skin provides a number of benefits, especially as we begin to age.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most notable benefits of squalane so that you know what you can expect from this powerful skincare ingredient.
The squalene produced naturally in our bodies helps keep our skin nourished, providing a youthful glow and soft complexion while reducing the appearance of fine lines.
Natural squalene production in the human body begins to slow around age 30, leaving us more likely to experience dryness, wrinkles, poor elasticity, and lines.
While aging is natural and there's nothing wrong with embracing your lines and wrinkles, we also know that not everyone is here for them, and that's okay too!
Squalane can help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while restoring the skin’s suppleness by helping prevent water loss and oxidation in the skin cells.
Because squalane is so similar to our body’s own squalene, it is easily absorbed into the body to give your skin an effortlessly rejuvenated look and feel. A topical product containing squalane can get to work directly on your skin, revealing a smoothed and soothed complexion.
By mimicking our body’s own squalene content, squalane offers a lightweight, non-greasy, natural feel as it preserves water content in lipids in the skin. This emollient will have your skin feeling hydrated and silky smooth.
Squalane helps lock in moisture without creating a feeling of heaviness or greasiness,
Reduces Redness and Soothes Dry Skin
The soothing and nourishing nature of squalene can help reduce discomfort related to dry or irritated skin and even assist with sunburn recovery.
The gentle nature of this natural ingredient can help repair the skin and reduce visible redness while also protecting the skin from uncomfortable cracks and breaks. Even a cold winter's day will be no match for your squalane-protected skin!
If you’re allergic or sensitive to more synthetic, commercial cosmetic ingredients, switching to a natural, squalane-based product could provide relief. Because squalane is practically identical to our body’s squalene, the risk of allergy to squalane is close to none.
Great for All Skin Types
Squalane acts as an adaptogen, meaning it can easily adapt to your skin type and your skin’s own unique needs.
Because squalene is absorbed so readily into the skin, it is non-comedogenic — meaning it doesn’t block the pores–and can even help regulate the body’s natural sebum production. This is because the body recognizes added squalane as its own squalene, and will lower the production of squalene oil in response–making it an ideal choice for oily skin.
And for sensitive skin, the gentle and nourishing effects can help avoid irritation and discomfort you may experience when using products filled with harsher chemicals and additives.
Squalane’s ability to lock moisture into the skin will also benefit anyone with dry skin. And if you experience a combination of any of these skin types? Squalane’s adaptive nature can help provide the balance your skin craves at any given time.
Works Gently for You and the Environment
At Bite, we believe that caring for the planet and our bodies can go hand in hand. One of the ways we do this is by choosing clean, mild ingredients that don’t harm the planet to source or produce.
When squalene is ethically sourced from plants, its production has a low environmental impact, and transforming this type of squalene into squalane does not involve the same level of carbon emissions that manufacturing many chemicals and additives requires. This protects us, our atmosphere, oceans, and all the critters living there.
Bite’s Squalane Is Vegan, Cruelty-Free, and Waste Free
At Bite, we are committed to centering sustainability in every step without sacrificing quality.
Our travel-friendly Bite Body Balm comes in a plastic-free case, and our waterless formula doesn’t require any harsh preservatives or parabens. The lightweight balm will glide easily over the skin, soothing dryness and softening skin texture.
Aside from squalane, our Body Balm also contains vitamin E-rich shea butter for skin softening, rosehip oil for an antioxidant boost thanks to vitamins C and A, and hyaluronic acid to provide deep hydration and lock in moisture.
Our Body Balm comes with a refillable metal case, so that when you need more, all you have to do is purchase a refill and fit it back into the same case. Not only is this product 100% plastic-free, but all of our ingredients are also vegan and cruelty-free with absolutely no animal-derived squalane.
Squalane is a soothing, clean ingredient that can benefit all skin types and be used on the face and body to reduce signs of aging, retain moisture, and rejuvenate the skin. Squalane helps the skin lock in moisture for deep hydration and a glowing complexion.
Historically, squalane was mainly derived from shark liver, making it a largely unethical and cruel ingredient. However, this is no longer the case for all products containing squalane.
Here at Bite, we provide cruelty-free personal care products so that you can feel good about your skin — and your product choices. Our Body Balm is just as good for our shark neighbors as it is for our skin. Containing vegan squalane alongside hyaluronic acid and antioxidants, our Body Balm can help you enjoy soft, deeply nourished skin.
Plant Sources, Extraction Methods, and Uses of Squalene | International Journal of Agronomy
The Hideous Price of Beauty: An Investigation Into the Market of Deep-Sea Shark Liver Oil | Bloom Association
Current Insights into the Biological Action of Squalene | Molecular Nutrition and Food Research