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What is it: Squalane

Reviewed by Marta July 6, 2013 25 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.

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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

Indie Lee Squalane Facial Cream ($70); Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil ($32); Indie Lee Calendula Eye Balm ($42). Note: Indie Lee uses only olive-derived squalane.

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  • 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

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