Squalane Oil: What It Is And How Does It Benefit Skin?

by Gio
squalane oil skincare benefits

Since The Ordinary put it on the map, Squalane oil is EVERYWHERE.

Seriously, check your skincare product. I dare you find one without squalane in it. Not that I’m complaining… This oil has a lot going for it.

It’s fast-absorbing. Non irritating. Non comedogenic… It literally works for everyone. But… what it is that it does, exactly?

Let’s unravel the mystery! Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about squalane oil:

What The Heck Is Squalane?

Squalane is the hydrogenated version of squalene.

WTH? In English, please, Gio.

Squalene is a natural component of human sebum. Your body makes it. But you can’t put it in skincare products. It’s too unstable and goes bad quickly. When it does, it makes you breakout faster than you can say “zit!”.

So scientists hydrogenate it, i.e. turn it from a liquid to a semi-solid (using hydrogen gas in the process). This extends its shelf life and makes it last longer.

P.S. Years ago, the squalane used in skincare came from shark livers. But now, most brands use squalane derived from plants (mostly olive). Phew!

the ordinary granactive retinoid 5% in squalane 01

Squalane Oil Benefits: What Does It Do For Skin?

Yo’ve guessed it, Squalane oil is super moisturising.

Because it’s so similar to human sebum, your skin absorbs it straight away. It doesn’t leave a greasy residue behind. If you’re tired of oils that stay on the surface of your skin for ages and make it shiner, you’ll love this.

Once on your skin, squalane strengthens the skin’s protective barrier so that moisture stays in and germs, pollutants and irritants stay out.

When your skin’s protective barrier is damaged, all hell breaks loose. Skin dries out to a wrinkled old prune. Everything it comes in contact with irritates it. Pimples rear their ugly heads.

But reinforce the protective barrier and everything changes. Now that skin has all the moisture it needs, it plumps up so your wrinkles look smaller. Its texture is super soft. Its glow comes back.

I know I’ve said it a thousand times, but hydration is the foundation of skincare. Without it, all your antiaging efforts are worthless.

When it comes to hydration, squalane oil is hard to beat.

Related: If Your Skin Is Perfectly Hydrated, Do You Need To Worry About Antiaging, Too?

Does Squalane Have Any Side Effects?

That’s the best part. Squalane is safe for EVERYONE. It’s NON irritating and NON comedogenic.

A lot of natural oils can cause irritations, especially in sensitive skin. That’s because olive oil, lavender oil, chamomile oil & co are made up of hundreds of different substances. Yep. For real.

Some of these substances are good. They give these oils their moisturising and antiaging properties. But others – like fragrant components – can be irritating.

Squalane is a simpler oil that’s pretty much identical to human sebum. Your skin instantly recognises it without throwing a tantrum.

Don’t take my word for it. Studies show that squalane is non-irritating up to 100% concentration. Now, that’s not something you can say about any ingredient.

Squalane is also one of the few oils that won’t give you pimples. It’s safe even for fungal acne!

The real side effect is that Squalane lacks antioxidants. If you’re looking for an oil that fights wrinkles, this ain’t it.

Related: How To Prevent And Treat Fungal Acne

sunday riley good genes glycolic acid treatment

What Are The Best Skincare Products With Squalane?

Related: Sunday Riley Good Genes Glycolic Acid Treatment Full Review

The Bottom Line

Super moisturizing, squalane oil works for ALL skin types. It makes skin softer and smoother, plumps up wrinkles and brighten skin WITHOUT giving you pimples or irritations. Too bad it doesn’t have antiaging properties, too.

Have you ever tried squalane oil? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Affiliate links.



Maria Latorre March 30, 2019 - 2:09 am

Gio, If I’d have to choose between squalene and niacinamide, what would be the main differences? I have oily prono to breakout skin wich is also dehydrated. Please help!

Gio April 4, 2019 - 11:41 am

Maria, I’d go with a moisturiser with niacinamide. Squalane only moisturises, but niacinamide helps with wrinkles, brightness, redness, irritation.. It does a bit of everything.

Sweta April 8, 2019 - 7:52 am

Hi Gio!
Love your blogs they are so informative yet I feel like I’m listening to a real person as opposed to reading a text book if you know what I mean!
Anyways, I have question about Vitamin A – I used to use tretinoin to treat my mild acne in my 20s but no longer need it anymore. I am now in my mid 30s and would like to start using retinol and was wondering would I need to start weak or would my skin be able to handle it since I’ve consumed it in the past? I am waiting for my 0.5% retinoid from TO to arrive but not sure if I need to dilute it further with squalane if it is too strong for me or whether I’ll be okay.
What are your thoughts?

Gio April 12, 2019 - 3:35 pm

Sweta, thank you so much! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog. 🙂

0.5% is an intermediate dose and The ordinary retinol products have squalane to soften the irritating potential. If your skin isn’t sensitive you may be able to tolerate it, but there’s no way to know for sure until you try it. Start slowly a couple of times a week and see how it goes.

Jann April 30, 2019 - 1:47 am

I love your blog. It has such good info that’s based on hard facts.

I’ve got combination sensitive skin. Currently my skincare consists of oil cleanser, water based gel cleanser, gentle chemical exfoliant alternated with clay mask weekly, vit c serum, pure aloe Vera moisturiser, SPF.

I think the moisturiser is drying my skin because it feels right after. I am interested in adding squalane & vit b3 to my routine and also a moisturiser that suits my skin. Can you recommend how I should go about this?

Gio June 4, 2019 - 7:27 pm

Jann, it seems you need a richer moisture. Try one with Niaciamide. Both Olay and Cerave are good options. After that, you can slather Squalane oil on top.

Zaeobi February 22, 2020 - 5:03 pm

Silly question perhaps but what’s the difference then (in usage) between Hyaluronic Acid & Squalane? Is it just that squalane is thicker (you mentioned it’s semi-solid)? I have sensitive skin that is neither too oily nor dry (combination, perhaps?) & I find that most moisturisers make me break out. I use an SPF but I’m wondering if I can just use squalane as a moisturiser before that step – would it work around the eyes?
(If it helps, my AM routine is: cleanse (micellar water), vitamin C, Hyaluronic acid, Niacinamide, (Squalane?), SPF.) PM routine is similar but switch out the Vitamin C for Retinoid & add a night serum).
A little unrelated but I’m also wondering if Hyaluronic Acid & Niacinamide are safe to use around the eyes? It sucks to find anti-ageing products that can’t be used in the eye area, when that’s where I have crow’s feet!

Gio March 6, 2020 - 7:47 am

Zaeobi, yes Hyaluronic Acid, squalane and niacinamide can be used on the eye area.

Both hyaluronic acid and squalane hydrate skin, but in different ways. Hyaluronic Acid draws moisture from the air into the skin, while squalane creates a protective barrier on the skin that keeps moisture in. It’s a great oil that you can definitely use as moisturiser.


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