indie lee squalane facial oil

Our Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by Marta on May 5, 2014


Squalane oil is so ubiquitous (there’s at least a smidge of it in just about every beauty product out there) that it is tempting to feel blasé toward it. I must admit, I never would have thought that I would buy a bottle of pure squalane oil. That is, until I tried the Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil ($32) at the insistence of the lovely Rebecca of Indie Lee (she even gave me her own bottle).

What intrigued me most about Rebecca’s experience with Indie Lee’s squalane is that she pointed to faded dark spots on the side of her face and then showed me unfaded — untreated by squalane — spots on the back of her neck. Frankly, I was astonished. Squalane, for me, was a moisturizer. A perfectly decent moisturizer, but not a dark spot eraser.  I had to give Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil a try.

Six weeks later, I must admit that there does seem to be something to squalane’s dark spot fading abilities. I tested Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil mostly on my hands, and there has been a discernible (although subtle) effect on “The Freckle” (as I call the dark spot just below the middle knuckle of my right hand). Being that my hands usually tend to be on the dry side, I am also pleased with how nicely supple the skin looks with using the oil. With results like this, it was worth researching squalane.

I should point out that squalane and squalene are the same thing. Squalane is basically a more stable version of squalene, therefore, it is squalane that usually shows up in cosmetics. Squalene can be found in certain fish oils, especially shark liver oil, in high amounts and some vegetable oils in relatively smaller amounts. Shark sourced squalane is not cool — most shark species are endangered. Indie Lee’s is from olives.

Human sebum contains 13% squalene, peaking in our 20s and then declining. Highly refined squalane from olive demonstrates the most notable characteristic: its ability to completely and rapidly penetrate the skin. Apparently, it can permeate into the skin at a rate of 2 mm/second.

That squalane is a helpful emollient is undisputed, but less clear is what else it can do. For such a commonly used substance, there is surprisingly little research. According to one published report, anticancer, antioxidant, drug carrier, detoxifier, skin hydrating and emollient activities have been clinically demonstrated. However, the American Cancer Society says the research is patchy at best. A quick word on squalene supplements — squalene is “poorly absorbed from the gastrointenstinal tract.”

I was very frustrated to be unable to find research on squalane and hyperpigmentation, in the sense that it will fade dark spots. Happily though, it is accepted that squalane will help prevent sun damage. Studies suggest that squalane protects against UV by mediating the inflammatory responses of keratinocytes to UVA and UBV rays.

Still the proof is in the pudding, I am certain that squalane’s effects on my dark spot and my skin’s condition overall have been beneficial. The effect on my fingernails has been amazing — no more ridges! There is something liberating about using a simple formulation that is 100% a single natural ingredient. Indie Lee promises that Squalane Facial Oil penetrates immediately to leave no greasy residue. I found that it does take about a minute, and I had to practice to find the right amount per dosage — too much required me to tissue off the surplus. But having worked that out, Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil has been a welcome daily companion and will be a fixture of my beauty regimen from now on.