using squalane in skin and hair care, image of squalane in a serum bottle with pink background

What is Squalane & How to Use It

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Squalane has become incredibly popular in skin and hair care, and this lightweight oil is an excellent addition to many serums and moisturizers.

What is Squalane, and What’s the Difference Between Squalane and Squalene?

You’ve likely seen squalane populating ingredient lists in skin care products, or perhaps even earning the title spot on serums. It’s a wonderful ingredient that we’re delighted to sell at Essential, and this blog describes what squalane is and its main benefits, along with the difference from its sister compound, squalene.

Squalane is a lightweight moisturizing oil excellent in antiaging formulations. This emollient is ideal for maturing, dry skin and is oil-soluble.

Usage rate: 0.5% up to 100%

Learn more about emollients in our blog Occlusive, Emollient & Humectant – Terms to Know

Squalene vs Squalane

Squalene was first discovered in high amounts in the liver of sharks, though it is a natural part of the skin’s lipid barrier and is found in most animals and some plants. The cosmetics industry initially used squalene harvested from sharks before switching to synthetic and plant-derived sources.

Squalene is a hydrating ingredient and a strong antioxidant, although it is unstable and breaks down rapidly. Once hydrogenated (adding hydrogen to a liquid fat) it becomes squalane which is much more stable, though not as strong an antioxidant, than squalene.

What is Squalane?

Squalane is found in many plants and most commonly derived from olives, rice bran, and sugarcane. Although more expensive than most carrier oils, the popularity and benefits of squalane help it stand out.

It is an excellent moisturizer, helping to seal in moisture with a lightweight, medium spreadability. Although more similar to a mineral oil than a carrier oil (since it is hydrocarbon based), it mimics skin’s natural sebum and thus is great for oily skin. However, it is suitable for all skin types and helps reduce the appearance of some common signs of aging.

How to Use Squalane

Given that squalane is an oil, include it in the oil phase of your formulations. It is a stable emollient that works well in conjunction with most skin care ingredients like the major vitamins and hyaluronic acid.

Usage rate: 0.5% to 100%

Uses: ideal in serums, moisturizers, and to calm and smooth hair. Add a few drops to your daily moisturizer or body butter to combine benefits.

Because it is oil-based, be sure to use water-based moisturizers and products before applying squalane.

Ideal for: maturing skin, dry skin, unhappy skin needing a barrier boost, adding healthy-looking shine to hair.


Get your sample of squalane here!


Sethi A, Kaur T, Malhotra SK, Gambhir ML. Moisturizers: The Slippery Road. Indian J Dermatol. 2016;61(3):279-287. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.182427

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