Squalane vs Squalene: What is the Difference?

In the realm of skincare and beauty, ingredients often take center stage. Among the many compounds gaining attention, squalane and squalene are renowned for their moisturizing and nourishing properties. Despite their similar names, these substances have distinct characteristics and applications. This article explores the differences between squalane and squalene, delving into their sources, types, and the myriad benefits they offer to the skin.

How Squalane Differs from Squalene?

The primary disparity between squalane and squalene lies in their molecular structures. Squalene is a natural compound in various plants and animal tissues, such as shark liver. However, squalene is highly unstable and prone to oxidation, making it less suitable for cosmetic formulations. To address this issue, squalane is derived from squalene through a hydrogenation process, resulting in a more stable and shelf-stable form. Squalane, therefore, is a saturated and fully hydrogenated version of squalene, making it a preferred choice in skincare.

Sources of Squalene

Squalene is abundantly present in nature, sourced from various botanical and animal origins. Olive oil is a notable plant-based source of squalene, with high concentrations found in the fruit and its oil. Amaranth seed, wheat germ, and rice bran also contain squalene. Historically, shark liver oil was a prominent source of squalene in the cosmetic industry, but due to ethical and environmental concerns, alternatives like plant-based squalene have gained popularity.

Types of Squalane Oil

Different types of squalane oil are available in the market, each with unique properties. While traditional squalane is derived from olive oil, modern manufacturing processes have introduced alternatives like sugarcane-derived squalane. These variations cater to diverse consumer preferences and ethical considerations, providing options for those seeking cruelty-free and sustainable skincare solutions.

Skin Benefits of Squalane

  • Intense Hydration: Squalane stands out for its remarkable ability to mimic the skin's natural oils, ensuring deep and long-lasting hydration. This makes it a valuable asset for those with dry skin, providing a moisture boost without leaving a heavy or greasy feel.
  • Balancing Oil Production: Contrary to common expectations, squalane is non-comedogenic and won't clog pores. Instead, it helps balance the skin's oil production, making it an excellent choice for individuals with oily or acne-prone skin. Maintaining optimal moisture levels can also mitigate sebum overproduction, contributing to a more balanced complexion.
  • Antioxidant Protection: Squalane boasts potent antioxidant properties, acting as a shield against free radicals. Free radicals, often generated by factors like UV radiation and pollution, can accelerate aging and lead to various skin concerns. By neutralizing these free radicals, squalane helps protect the skin from oxidative stress, promoting a youthful and radiant appearance.
  • Improves Skin Elasticity: The regular use of squalane can have a positive impact on skin elasticity. By promoting hydration and supporting the skin's natural barrier function, squalane contributes to a firmer and more supple complexion. This can be particularly beneficial in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, offering a natural anti-aging solution.
  • Non-Irritating: Squalane is known for its gentle nature, which suits individuals with sensitive skin. It is unlikely to cause irritation or exacerbate skin conditions, such as eczema or dermatitis. This quality makes squalane a versatile and inclusive ingredient suitable for various skin types.
  • Fast Absorption: The lightweight and non-greasy texture of squalane allows it to quickly absorb into the skin. This fast absorption rate makes it an ideal addition to various skincare products, ensuring that it effortlessly integrates into daily routines without leaving a heavy residue.
  • Improves Texture and Tone: Squalane contributes to smoother and more even skin texture. Regular use can help minimize the appearance of uneven skin tone and texture, providing a noticeable improvement in the overall look and feel of the skin.
  • Minimizes Redness and Irritation: The soothing properties of squalane make it effective in reducing redness and irritation. Whether caused by environmental factors or underlying skin conditions, squalane provides a calming influence, promoting a more comfortable and balanced complexion.
  • Boosts Collagen Production: Collagen is an essential structural protein contributing to the skin's firmness and elasticity. Squalane has been shown to support collagen synthesis, helping to maintain skin integrity and resilience. This can be particularly advantageous in combating signs of aging and preventing the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Versatile Usage: Squalane's versatility extends beyond its skincare benefits. It can be seamlessly incorporated into various skincare products, including serums, moisturizers, and makeup. This adaptability makes it a go-to ingredient for those looking to enhance their skincare routines with a multifunctional, easy-to-use solution. Whether used alone or as part of a comprehensive skincare regimen, squalane offers many benefits for achieving and maintaining healthy, radiant skin.


In the skincare world, understanding the differences between squalane and squalene is crucial for making informed choices. While squalene is a natural compound with origins in both plants and animals, squalane is its stabilized, hydrogenated counterpart, suitable for a wide range of cosmetic applications. When seeking skincare products, individuals can choose from different types of squalane oil, considering factors such as source, sustainability, and personal preferences. The numerous benefits of squalane, ranging from hydration and antioxidant protection to improved skin texture, make it a valuable addition to any skincare routine. As the beauty industry continues to evolve, squalane remains a timeless ingredient, offering timeless benefits for healthy and radiant skin.

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Featured image by Susan Wilkinson

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