If it took you a few years to finally understand what retinol is, we’re here with a tip to help you get ahead of the skincare game: Do not sleep on squalane. This powerhouse ingredient is probably already in a few products you’re using right now, and it’s derm-approved for being a multi-benefit ingredient suitable for all skin types.
“Squalane is one of those products that can be used in several different ways,” says Tina Alster, MD, FAAD, and creator and co-founder of The A Method® Skincare. “Many people equate it to a ‘dry oil’ and use it in place of a moisturizer,” she says. People who want to alleviate dry or dehydrated skin or those who need inflammation relief due to psoriasis or eczema can all benefit from using squalane. Here’s everything you need to know about how to work this superstar ingredient into your everyday routine, according to Dr. Alster.
About the Expert:
First, it helps to know that there’s squalene with an e and squalane with an a. “Squalene is found naturally in living organisms—in many plants and animals,” says Dr. Alster. “Squalene is naturally produced by one's own skin cells to lubricate and protect your skin. However, over time and with age, production of this natural lipid declines.” She adds, “To become squalane, the stable form of the squalene molecule, the lipid must be hydrogenated. Only then is the oil used in skincare products.” Adding products formulated with squalane can help return the skin barrier to a healthy, hydrated state.
The biggest thing to be concerned about when choosing squalane-based products is where the squalane was sourced from. Squalane can be found and harvested from shark livers, which is extremely harmful to the environment and overall not sustainable. When researching products with squalane, make sure the squalane is sourced from plant-based ingredients. “Squalene can also be derived from olives, rice bran, and sugar cane,” says Dr. Alster.
According to Dr. Alster, the benefits of squalane for anti-aging are intense when used daily. “Squalane also has anti-inflammatory properties and is lightweight on the skin, unlike some other hydrators that may clog pores. It works effectively as an anti-ager to improve the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and elasticity,” she says.
“When applied topically, squalane can hydrate and moisturize the skin, making it appear to be healthier and look more vibrant,” says Dr. Alster. Squalane protects the skin by creating a barrier, which is beneficial for anyone who spends time in harsh weather conditions. Another thing that makes this product so great is that it can be used in people with dry, sensitive, and oily skin.
Antioxidants can help protect skin from both harsh weather and overall pollutants you come in contact with every day like pollution, smoke, and UV rays. “ Squalane contains antioxidants and can also serve as a detoxifier,” says Dr. Alster.
Remember when we said this ingredient does it all? We weren’t joking! “Those suffering from dehydration or blemish-prone skin can get extra benefits,” says Dr. Alster. “Squalane can help reduce redness and swelling,” which makes it a great hydrator for those suffering from inflammation.
The same squalane oil you rub into your cheeks can be used on cuticles and hair for an extra boost. “Just a few drops of squalene before rinsing can increase moisture and shine, and help to reduce breakage and split ends,” says Dr. Alster.
Although squalene (with an e!) is naturally found in living organisms and your own skin cells, it must be hydrogenated to become squalane (with an a!). Squalane is the stable form of the squalene molecule that goes into the products you use. All other forms of squalene are too unstable to be used in products. However, squalane still retains all of the benefits of the original form, so rest assured nothing funky is happening in the hydrogenation process before it hits your skin.
Mother Earth on your mind? You’ll love this vegan lip balm formula that won't harm your finned friends (bonus: It even comes in packaging made from 100% renewable sugarcane!). And if you’re still suffering from dry, cracked winter lips, this balm is the ultimate savior. It’s formulated with 10 times more hydrating properties than the average lip balm, containing hyaluronic acid that works with squalane to moisturize, soothe, and plump your lips.
Olive squalane is the star of this eye cream, and it gets a supporting boost from probiotics that help calm irritation and peptides that help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve elasticity. Squalane, of course, does all of those things and more, so it’s the ultimate trifecta.
Help restore your skin’s barrier with this mix of squalane, jojoba oil, and ceramides. Each ingredient was specifically chosen for its soothing properties, making this moisturizer a go-to formula for anyone experiencing skin inflammation caused by acne, rosacea, or eczema. Just make sure to follow with SPF if you’re heading outside!
Coming in at under $20, this is one of the most affordable ways to add squalane to your everyday routine. This all-natural cream works like a high-tech chemical-filled moisturizer, because in addition to squalane, it’s made with two types of hyaluronic acid that actually bind moisture to your skin.
If you need hydration in a hurry, reach for this mask that gets to work in just 20 minutes. It’s formulated with plant-based squalane, sweet almond oil, and hyaluronic acid for a mega boost of moisture. It’s conditioning, soothing, and hydrating all at once.
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