What is squalane and do I need it in my skincare routine?

Everything to know about the hydrating skincare ingredient squalane.


Shabir Daya, co-founder of Victoria Health, breaks down everything to know about the skincare ingredient squalane.

Where does squalane come from?

Squalane is a botanic lipid derived from the hydrogenation of olive oil.

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Is it known other any other names? 

People often mistake this for squalene which is a lipid which was historically sourced from shark liver oil although these days it is derived from botanical sources. The main difference between the two is that squalane is more stable to oxidation unlike squalene.

Related: What is lactic acid?

What's it used for? What's the main benefit of using it?

Both squalane and squalene have a long history of use in cosmetic products. It is a superb emollient which provides surface hydration without clogging pores as it is non-greasy.

How does it work in the skin? 

It displays very similar properties to the natural oils found in skin which makes it a wonderful to use – lightweight, non-pore clogging, no greasy residue and may help prevent dehydration.

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Who should use it?

Whether you have dry skin, normal skin or combination skin, squalene will be good to incorporate into your skincare regimen.

Should anyone not use it?

All skin types would benefit from it including oily skin since it will help to improve sebum texture for oily skin types and because of its mild anti-inflammatory properties, it may actually help regulate oil production.

Related: What is salicylic acid?

Where does it come in your skincare routine?

I tend to recommend this product after water based serums and usually the last product before any cream.

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Is there anything it shouldn't be mixed with?

No squalene is completely neutral can be used with any other serum or active single ingredient serum.

Related: What is retinol?

Is there anything to look out for when shopping for it? 

Ensure that the product you purchase contains 100% pure squalane and not squalene which is unstable. If you are going to use a face oil, I would always recommend squalane above most face oils because most face oils such as rosehip seed oil, argan oil almond oil tend to be polyunsaturated which means that they are extremely susceptible to free radical attack and can turn rancid very quickly.

IMAGE Top Picks

Garden of Wisdom's 100% Pure Squalane Oil, €10.42

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What is it?

A cheap, notionless pure squalane oil that can be used neat or added into your foundation for wearable glass skin. 

Buy HERBIVORE BOTANICALS Lapis - Blue Tansy + Squalane Balancing ...

Herbivore Botanicals Lapis Facial Oil, €63

What is it?

While I wouldn't buy this one just for squalane alone (go for the Garden of Wisdom one, if you'd just like to try it out), if you're in the market for a luxurious night oil with a superblend of hydration and nourishment, this is the oil for you.

Have a skincare question or ingredient you'd like debunked? Email your suggestions here.

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Photography by Jason Lloyd Evans.

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