What is Squalane? Everything You Need to Know

In the world of buzzy skincare ingredients, squalane has quickly gone from under-the-radar to ubiquitous. It is now the industry's new favorite ingredient, and for good reasons - it works wonders for both our skin and our hair and helps keep them youthful and hydrated. But what is squalane, exactly? And what does squalane do for your skin and your hair? We break it down for you.


What is squalane?

Squalane (with an A) is a plant-derived, sustainable version of one of nature’s most effective emollients, squalene (with an E). In humans, squalene is one of the main components of the skin surface lipids, a complex mixture of oils that moisturizes the skin, protects the skin barrier, prevents water loss, provides anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant benefits, and protects it from the environment. 

Newborn babies have the greatest concentration of squalene in their skin, but our reserves begin to drop rapidly with age. “It is kind of like baby’s first moisturizer,” explains Mimi Lu, the scientist behind Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s clean beauty brand, Rose Inc, which uses squalane for its skin-enhancing properties in everything, from their serums and cleansers to blushes and lipsticks. “We see the benefits of squalene from birth all the way to as you get older.”

What is squalane made from?

Derived from either sugarcane or olives, squalane is a more stable version of this naturally occurring emollient that mimics squalene’s exceptional moisturization capabilities. “If you think about emollients in moisturizers, it’s probably one of the best ones you can use for skincare because skin already recognizes it and knows what it does,” says Ramya Viswanathan, a lead chemist at Amyris, the biotechnology and renewable cosmetics company behind brands including Biossance, JVN, and Costa Brazil. “Squalane is really replenishing and feeding what the skin might be missing.” 

What does squalane do for your skin and your hair?

Studies done by scientists at Biossance have shown that the benefits of squalane go far beyond long-lasting moisturization to include balancing the skin’s natural oil production, reducing skin roughness, promoting cell turnover for a brighter complexion, improving skin firmness and elasticity, supporting the skin microbiome, and repairing and reinforcing the skin barrier. A true multi-tasker, you can even use squalane to moisturize dry cuticles and rough feet, soothe skin after shaving or sun exposure, tame flyaways, and smooth frizzy hair. Phew! 

Who is squalane best for?

While it those with dry and/or mature skin will arguably enjoy the benefits of squalane the most, all skin types should consider adding squalane to their skincare regime–from babies to those with sensitive skin. Same goes for hair - dry, damaged and/or frizzy hair will love the added hydration squalane will bring to make your strands stronger and smoother.
Naturally odorless, colorless, and non-comedogenic, squalane is the multi-tasking, hero ingredient you need to include in your routine.

Shop Our Squalane Collection

Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil

This award-winning brightening, firming, and hydrating oil was dubbed one of the "100 Greatest Products of All Time” by Beauty Inc.– and for good reason. Formulated with a potent, oil-soluble, shelf-stable form of Vitamin C which works to reduce the appearance of dark spots and discoloration while improving firmness and elasticity; squalane to lock in moisture, chios crystal oil which plumps and firms the skin, and damascus rose petal extract which calms and soothes the skin, this serum is a game changer.

Rose Inc Solar Radiance Hydrating Cream Highlighter

This revolutionary highlighting and skin-smoothing hybrid, illuminates the complexion with sheer radiance while nourishing the skin. Formulated with squalane to provide weightless hydration, sea holly cells to plump the skin’s surface and rose extract to visibly brighten uneven skin tone. This creamy highlighter effortlessly glides over the high points of the face to build natural-looking luminosity without settling into pores or fine lines. Buildable and seamless, it’s available in four flattering shades to enhance every skin tone with a lit-from-within glow.

Stripes The Full Monty

Created by our co-founder Naomi Watts, this hydrating body oil contains a silky blend of moisturizing squalane, antioxidant-rich acai oil, vitamins C and E to combat free radical damage, Kakadu plum to deliver deep hydration and an all over radiance, and ectoine which provides smart-targeted hydration to distribute moisture to where the skin needs it most. Apply this powerhouse blend liberally for the ultimate post-shower, top-to-toe glow. 


Costa Brazil Face Cleanser

This oil-based cleanser transforms from a gel into a milky mixture that’s soft and gentle on skin. Featuring hard-working ingredients such as sugarcane-derived squalane, to keep skin hydrated, and andiroba, copaiba, urucum and tea tree for vitamins and nutrients, this sulfate-free face wash leaves behind a clean, conditioned, and refreshed complexion. When our faces are particularly dirty, we use this as the first step in a double cleanse.

JVN Pre-Wash Scalp Oil

This nutrient-dense golden oil works as a pre-shampoo treatment to hydrate and cleanse the scalp. Sugarcane-derived squalane helps to promote stronger, shinier, longer, and healthier-looking hair. Rosemary extract is known to stimulate the scalp and hair follicles to promote hair growth, while bisabolol helps to clarify and calm. Added bonus: we love the musky, citrusy scent.

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