Letâs face it: staring at an ingredients list on the back of your favourite moisturiser or serum can be perplexing. However, there are certain hero ingredients that can make a difference to your skin … and squalane, a plant-derived ingredient that mimics the moisturising properties of our skin, is one of them.
âFor a long time, brands have called out things like acids, peptides or vitamin C as the key âactivesâ,â explains Lucy Shaw, retail skincare manager at MECCA Brands. âConsumers are now seeing ingredients like squalane, probiotics, ferments, adaptogens emerge as the new generation of âactivesâ.Â
âUp until recently, applying oil on the skin was not advised and consumers saw oil as something that would ultimately lead to blemishes. Now that we are more educated on what is in our products, consumers are aware of the benefits of using oils and fats, such as squalane, on their skin.â
While we have just recently begun to hear more about squalane, itâs actually been used in skincare for quite some time. In fact, squalane is very closely related to squalene â a fat or lipid that is naturally produced by the sebaceous oil glands in our skin.
âSqualene is a protective antioxidant that is produced naturally by the skin,â says Shaw. It helps keep our skin hydrated, but like many other processes that begin to slow as we age, the production of squalene does, too, which means by the time we reach our 40s we can start to experience drier skin due to the decrease in squalene.
This is where squalane comes in, says Shaw. âSqualene is converted into squalane through a process called hydrogenation (adding hydrogen) and it has a molecular structure that is very similar to the natural oils found in your skin.â And while products that use squalene do exist, the ingredient is highly unstable. âIn general, squalane is preferred for use in cosmetics because it is more stable, colourless, odourless and has a longer shelf life,â adds Shaw.Â
Shaw says the bulk of the squalane that we see in skincare products today comes from plant-based sources. âYou can find squalene and squalane in olive oil, sugar cane, wheat germ and rice bran most commonly,â she says.
As for what squalane does for the skin, it really mimics the benefits of the squalene our body produces naturally. It particularly benefits those with dry or dehydrated skin, but squalane is beneficial for all skin types as it helps keep skin hydrated around the clock, reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. âIt is a master of moisturising and nourishing the skin,â says Shaw. âBut it does it in a way thatâs lightweight and easy for the skin to absorb.âÂ
With autumn here and winter just around the corner, it could be the ideal time to work squalane-based products into your routine. âSqualane helps to reinforce your skinâs protective barrier and support the ceramides locking your skin cells together,â says Shaw. She explains that when the skin barrier is compromised â which often happens over the cooler months â it loses moisture more rapidly and is more sensitive to the outside environment. âSqualane will essentially help your skin to function at its full potential,â says Shaw. âIt also helps your cells intake oxygen more effectively, provides antioxidant protection and helps your cells to regenerate.Â
âOverall, it will make for smoother, more moisturised skin that is supple and bouncy.âÂ