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What is it: Squalane

November 6, 2017 Reviewed by Marta 32 Comments

I have been struggling with a small, but extremely stubborn patch of eczema on my finger for over a month. A prescription cream started to do the trick but at the expense of drying my skin to the extent that two days ago it began to crack and bleed. Yesterday, I had a little brainwave: squalane. I have a bottle of 100% squalane that I bought in anticipation of trying out some homemade concoctions. Two applications in less than 24 hours later, my skin is almost back to normal - even the cuts have closed up completely.

Squalane is frequently used in cosmetics and we often call it out as a good moisturizer. But talk about an understatement. This stuff is magical. Naturally, I wanted to find out more.

Squalane Vs. Squalene

The first thing to clear up is that squalane and squalene are the same thing. Squalane is basically a more stable version of squalene and, therefore, it is squalane that usually shows up in cosmetics. The second thing is that squalane was originally obtained from shark livers and sometimes it still is. The fish-friendly alternative is squalane made from olives. Unfortunately not all cosmetic manufacturers state the provenance of their squalane.

Anyway, the key question is...

Why Does Squalane Work So Well?

Squalane, whilst not so bountiful in plants as it is in shark's liver, can be found in many vegetable oils. It is also found in human sebaceous secretions, as a precursor of cholesterol. In humans, squalane levels peak in our early 20s and then decline very rapidly.

Highly refined squalane from olive demonstrates the most notable squalane characteristic: its ability to completely and rapidly penetrate the skin. Apparently, it can permeate into the skin at a rate of 2 mm/second. I can vouch for that. I put a large dollop on my finger and it was completely absorbed (with hardly any rubbing in) within a couple of minutes.

Once absorbed it is doing all manner of helpful things. Squalane is an antioxidant, prevents UV damage and the formation of age spots, promotes cell growth and is an antibacterial. Also in animal tests, at 100% concentrations, it was non-irritant to rabbit skin and eyes.

Other studies show that certain carcinogenic chemicals are inactivated when exposed to squalane over a period of time. Hopefully, this means that the squalane will counteract the potentially harmful effects of the junk that all too often gets thrown into skincare creams.

Where to Find Squalane

Volante Radiant Youth Firming Cream, Your Best Face  Defend, Transderma M

  • October 10, 2018

    by Matther

    Ummm... Squalene and squalane ARE NOT the same thing. Squalene is a polyunsaturated hydrocarbon and squalane is a saturated (hydrogenated) hydrocarbon, making squalane a lighter, more stable oil resistant to oxidation. Squalene's double bonds make it heavier and susceptible to oxidation, which can cause inflammation and and clogged pores leading to acne breakouts. Our skin sebum contains 13% squalene and 2.5% squalane.

  • March 6, 2018

    by Anne

    Let's remember how we get the cure for horrible, detestable diseases like polio and the rest -- most of which we don't have to worry about anymore -- and why? Lab tests were done on rats, rabbits, etc. , that's why. I'm sure you've all been immunized for polio -- how do you think these life-saving serums are discovered and tested???????

  • June 14, 2017

    by Edina Gyetván

    Dear Shelondria,

    Sharks do not normally hunt humans. When they do attack a human, it is usually a case of mistaken identity. Shark sometimes mistake humans for its natural prey, such as fish or a marine mammal or sea turtle, and most often will release the person after the first bite.

    And what about your kind of creature? Next time before having an opinion on something check your facts and educate yourself on that matter.

  • March 29, 2017

    by Ava

    Buy it from The Ordinary instead. They NEVER test on animals and a 30 ml bottle is less than $8.

  • March 15, 2017

    by Samantha

    I agree with Leeann, good article but the nonchalant mention of testing on rabbits is disgusting

  • March 15, 2017

    by Samantha

    I agree with Leeann, good article but the nonchalant mention of testing on rabbits is disgusting

  • March 1, 2017

    by Lee Ann

    I appreciated the information of squalene, but I was appalled at the casual mention of testing the ingredient on rabbits. There is never an excuse to test cosmetics on animals. Does Truth in Aging have any policy about carrying products that are tested on animals?

  • September 7, 2016

    by Sandra

    I love the Squalene in Botani Olive Skin Serum it's pure olive squalene - 100% vegan and is amaaazing for my dry skin! I also use it in the baby's bath and it makes the skin feel like it's been totally moisturised just from a fee drops in the bath! Also not oily

  • August 16, 2016

    by Lorraine

    As you've already read, none of the products I've looked at are made with Squalane from Shark's liver, they are make from Olives. I would never use anything made from a shark and the cosmetics industry has become more and more cruelty free. I think you'd be hard pressed to find shark's liver in any cosmetic made in the U.S.

    I just purchased 1 oz of pure squalane (derived from Olives) from Timeless Skincare for $8.95. Timeless Skincare delivers pure, cruelty free skin care at very reasonable prices. It's all very good stuff and I've been using their Vitamin C FE serum for months with amazing results. Can't wait to add squalane to my skincare routine, especially since I do have Roseacea and am hoping this will have the same curative affect as it does on other "abrasions".

  • May 31, 2016

    by John

    There are 5 shark attacks a year and they DO NOT have an apetite for human. 99% of shark attacks on human are b/c the shark is confused and thinks they are a seal which is a natural prey for them. Sharks are becoming critically endangered b'/c of backwards attitudes like yours. The chinese simply take the fin and dump the it into the ocean alive and of course they die an agonizing death. If the sharks die so do we. It's called the circle of live, Shlondria.

  • April 25, 2016

    by Ronnie

    I actually work at a company that makes the squalane/squalene from yeast, therefore making it sustainable and eco friendly. We save the sharks and don't have to worry about bad crop years. It works just as well as that derived from shark liver and olive trees.

  • March 1, 2016

    by Shannon

    I'm still confused on which is more beneficial for youthful beautiful skin.
    The olive or shark squalene?
    Please advise

  • August 31, 2015

    by Andrea

    I personally love the oil derived 100% pure squalane oil from Timeless Skin Care. It absorb so fast and left my skin so soft and supple. I use it every where. Just a bit on my face as a moisturizer and for the price its unbeatable.

  • April 12, 2015

    by Rileysmom

    I just happened upon this site....
    I'm confused - is this a site providing info on squalane - or a pseudo-religious doctrine-promoting platform??
    If you are offended, it is just one click to get off the site. Please consider those of us who actually came looking for info on squalane on a site claiming to have info on squalane, and, btw, who neither solicited, nor necessarily share your opinions.

  • December 12, 2014

    by Petra

    I am just floored by Shelondria's comments. Unbelievably ignorant and offensive.

  • October 17, 2014

    by Marta

    Well said Becky!

  • October 16, 2014

    by Becky

    Shelondria I found your comment a bit disturbing. There are very few shark attacks on humans, especially when you compare it to human attacks on sharks. On average their are 5 shark attacks per year in the us, whereas we humans take out 8,000 PER HOUR. If your argument is that anything harmful from humans needs to be exterminated than humans should be the first in line for extinction. It just seemed like an ill-informed comment & I really could help but to respond.

  • August 19, 2014

    by Shelondria

    I dont think anyone would be a bit concerned about a creature that kills humans to satisfy its appettite no more than a human sure it eats no more than a human would care to kill a shark to satisfy an alternative to Botox treatments......Although they are part of the ecosystem, they have been known to kill humans that pose a threat on their territory so they are not beneficial at this point.........

  • July 26, 2014

    by Frankie

    Yes Lisa, I am very concerned as well and think it's just another example of how humans just don't give a sh*t about the earth and other living creatures if it tastes good or makes them look better.

  • May 11, 2014

    by Linda

    where can I buy Squalan cream in the Philippines

  • February 22, 2014

    by Glenda

    I use the Squalane 99 from Serious Skin Care, I love it, it smells fruity kind of like a watermelon. It absorbs into the skin quickly and I use it all over, even my hair. Just roll the ball over my hands and rub my hands together and comb my hands through my hair to add skin, smells great to. It cost at HSN $29.99 per bottle but sometimes you can get a BOGO free deal. Another thing it is made from olives not shark.

  • February 16, 2014

    by monica

    I have used a serum with squalane from olives, vitamin c and vitamin e from botani. It is 100% organic and cruelty free and has been pretty good for my skin.

  • January 21, 2014

    by lisa

    Isnt anyone concerned here that squalane if not from the plant source is from sharks!! we are killing off these important creatures for what? human anti-anging rituals? wrong dont use shark derived squaline!!

  • October 27, 2013

    by Kim

    Seems like this is used mainly as a moisturizer, but it says it promotes cell growth? Would it be useful as an under-eye cream to reduce dark circles?

  • August 2, 2013

    by Diane

    Peter Thomas Roth has a product called Oilless Oil. The website indicates that it is 100% purified Squalane derived from sugarcane. It's about 38.00 a bottle.
    Now for me... It would have to be organic sugarcane grown with no pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers.

  • July 25, 2012

    by Lindell

    Can it be good for hair aswell, I wonder??? Any ideas??

  • June 24, 2012

    by Gay

    Hi....thanks all.... I have an allergy to Olives and have gone... on a number of occassions into Anaphylactic Shock before I worked out what was happening.... even 3 days in hospital and no-one could find out what was wrong with me. I am now going to go through all my cosmetics again for this.

  • January 7, 2011

    by Squalane

    [...] [...]

  • January 16, 2010

    by Urs

    Hi Sam,

    You are mistaken. Squalane is a hydrogenated product made from Squalene which is either from shark lever oil or ftom Olive oil. Squalane is therefore a saturated and stable product compared to squalene and used in cosmetics. Squalene can also be extracted from Palm Oil .

  • October 13, 2009

    by Sam

    I'm doing a little research on my own, and found that the differences between Squalane and Squalene are much more radical than just being more purified. Squalane is actually oil derived from shark livers. Squalene is an almost identical compound that comes from olives. Most manufacturers prefer the shark oil to the basically olive oil, though the effects are almost identical. The type of shark the oil comes from has a slow maturity rate and the harvesting of the oil kills them faster than they can reproduce. So, if you are going to be using these chemicals, it would be more environmentally friendly to use the olive based oil.

  • June 9, 2009

    by chey

    I love the stuff! I have a rash on my face and it looks like dry patches under my foundation but squalane smoothed the rash out after one use. First time in awhile that my foundation looked smooth on my skin.

  • April 5, 2009

    by Junko

    I bought some from the I'm not fond of hand lotions. They're always so greasy, and has to be administered, each time your hands get wet! That seems like a zillion times a day for me! So my hands always get really dried out at certain times due to the lack of daily care. It's at these times that I put about 6 drops of squalene on them before I go to bed. After 3 or 4 nights of this they look and feel great again.

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