Ingredient Spotlight: Squalane

It’s the superstar ingredient you’ve probably never heard of: squalane is coveted by skincare aficionados and cosmetic formulators alike. Here’s why.

What is squalane?

Squalane is a plant-based compound. It comes from squalene, a very similar but slightly different version of the compound which is naturally produced by our bodies. In fact, it’s a major component of the lipids found on the surface of your skin. Squalene is known for locking in hydration by creating a protective barrier on the skin’s surface.

For this reason, squalane is used as an ingredient by many cosmetic companies in products that are made to hydrate the skin and lock in moisture. When combined with other potent ingredients, squalane helps deliver all that good stuff deep into the skin and then holds it in so nothing is lost. This is especially helpful if environmental factors, like a sunburn or simply a naturally dry skin type, tend to cause your skin to lose moisture.

Olive plants contain squalane found in Skin Drink by SLMD Skincare

What’s the difference between squalane and squalene?

On the surface, these ingredients look like they’re just a minor spelling difference away, but they are definitely not one in the same! To put it simply, one can come from animals and the other is sourced from plants. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Squalene (-ene) is an organic compound that naturally occurs in the human body. High concentrations of squalene are found in our skin, but there’s another source that produces even more of the antioxidant — sharks.
  • Squalane (-ane) is a derivative of olive-sourced squalene. Thanks to a cool chemical process called hydrolysation, it goes from an unsaturated lipid to a saturated lipid. Translation: hydrolysation gives us a super-hydrating and skin-protecting ingredient that comes with all of the bang for less buck. What’s not to love?
Chemical formula for squalane contained in moisturising Skin Drink by SLMD Skincare

Why is squalane so good for my skin?

Squalane is a dream come true if you’re looking to hydrate your skin. Here are the highlights:

  • Adds and seals in moisture 
  • Easily absorbed — because it’s similar to skin’s natural lipids
  • Not sticky or heavy feeling — see above
  • Naturally derived and typically non-irritating
  • Generally suitable for all skin types and ages
Dispensing Skin Drink containing squalane by Dr. Pimple Popper's SLMD Skincare

Is squalane good for ageing skin?

Due to its intensive moisturising and emollient properties, squalane is particularly beneficial for dry or mature skin. SLMD Skincare Skin Drink is made with squalane and hyaluronic acid to plump skin and restore a youthful glow.

Dr. Lee’s squalane skin hacks

The whole body can benefit from the moisturising properties of squalane. Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) favours Skin Drink for treating parched areas like dry, cracked heels and rough elbows. Damaged hair in need of a drink can also absorb squalane — use sparingly on dry ends.

Is squalane safe for acne-prone skin?

According to Dr. Lee, squalane is safe for all skin types — including blemish-prone or oily skin. There is a common misconception that if you’re breakout-prone, you need to avoid this ingredient. However, Dr. Lee points out that sometimes, it’s not the squalane causing complications for oily skin, but the other ingredients in the formula.

If you have combination or blemish-prone but dehydrated skin, squalane could be a beneficial addition to your skincare routine.


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