Move Over Hyaluronic Acid, There’s A New Super-moisturiser In Town
In the skincare world, no ingredient is more lauded for its hydration abilities than hyaluronic acid. However, there’s an often overlooked and underrated ingredient that works to effectively support and restore moisture to your skin; squalane. So, should you be adding it to your skincare routine? Read on for everything you need to know about squalane (and its very close relative squalene).
Similarly spelt and easy to confuse, squalene (with an ‘e’) is a colourless lipid naturally produced by the sebaceous glands in our skin. “It is an oily triterpenoid hydrocarbon that lubricates and protects the skin,” explains dermatologist Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan. Unfortunately, as we age, our ability to produce squalene slows down significantly.
Squalane (with an ‘a’) is formed when squalene is hydrogenated, which prevents it from oxidising and losing its benefits. Basically, “squalane is a derivative of squalene which is much lighter and more stable,” Gunatheesan tells us, qualities which are key to its use in skincare products.
Where does squalene come from?
Naturally found in large quantities of shark liver, sharks used to be the most common source of squalene (which was then hydrogenated to form squalane). Fortunately, the squalene found in skincare products today is commonly derived from plant sources, like olives, sugarcane, wheat germ, and rice bran.
What are the benefits of squalane for skin?
“Squalane works to trap moisture and forms a fortified antioxidant barrier over the skin,” says Gunatheesan, adding that squalane is beneficial “for all skin types, [although] acne prone skin and oily skin types will need to be judicious in its usage.”
Due to its emollient (ability to trap moisture) properties, squalane is particularly beneficial for those with dry or mature skin. One of the key benefits of squalane over other oils, is that it’s recognised by our bodies as a substance produced by the sebaceous glands, which allows it to effectively penetrate the skin.
Some of the key benefits of squalane are:
Acts as an emollient to form a protective barrier over and lock moisture into the skin
Improves skin elasticity, reducing wrinkles and fine lines over time
Can aid in neutralising damage from free radicals
Soothes inflamed skin
Is predominately well-tolerated and unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction
Lightweight consistency, so it doesn’t leave behind a greasy residue
How does squalane differ from hyaluronic acid?
Both squalene and hyaluronic acid are produced by the body, however they work in very different ways. Squalene or squalane acts as an emollient which softens and locks moisture into the skin, while hyaluronic acid is a humectant that holds over 1000 times its weight in water, working to retain moisture.
The best products with squalane
Keen to start using this super moisturiser? Here are our 8 favourite products to incorporate into your skincare routine, stat.
1. Biossance 100% Squalane Oil
From the brand that brought squalane into our collective consciousness, Biossance 100% Squalane Oil is derived from renewable sugarcare. The most lightweight squalane we’ve tried, Biossance’s iteration can be used to moisturise the face, body (after showering on damp skin is recommended), and hair.
A gentle moisturising cleanser, The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser is targeted towards makeup removal, cleansing efficiently while without stripping the skin of its natural oils. This cleanser starts with a balm-like consistency which turns clear on application, dissolving makeup and impurities on the skin.
One of our favourite products, this lightweight oil combines Biossance’s signature sugarcane squalane with the skin brightening properties of vitamin C. With chios crystal oil to restore your skin’s elasticity and damascus rose petal extract to calm and soothe irritated skin, this beautifully-scented oil works perfectly layered over serums and moisturiser, or in lieu of moisturiser on warmer days.
Retinol can often be irritating, making its combination with squalane in Medik8 Retinol 10TR Intense an apt one. Squalane works to deeply hydrate the skin and support the skin’ natural defence barrier, while anti-ageing hero vitamin A plumps and refines the skin to promote a more youthful complexion.
5. Youth To The People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask
This nourishing overnight mask combines brightening vitamin C with an antioxidant-rich superberry blend, moisturising squalane, and hydrating hyaluronic acid. Perfect for dull skin in need of a refresh!
8. Medik8 Mutiny Squalane-Based Alternative Lip Balm
This lip balm harnesses the restorative power of squalane to nourish lips and prevent moisture from escaping. Omega-rich sea buckthorn oil aids in supporting the skin’s natural lipid barrier, while hyaluronic acid draws moisture in, keeping lips hydrated and supple.