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Here’s what the research says on this super hydrating skincare ingredient — plus our fave products that are packed with it.

If you want to take your dry, dull skin to a luminous glow, the first step is hydration.

For that, squalane is one of the best natural skincare ingredients on the market. And spoiler alert: Your skin already adores it.

Thirsty for more? We’ve rounded up the research on what squalene is and why it’s essential for soft, healthy-looking skin.

Squalene is a slippery liquid that occurs naturally in plants, animals, and even human sebum. It plays a key role in lubricating and protecting your skin from UV damage.

This colorless, odorless lipid comprises at least 10 percent of your skin’s natural oils. Basically, it’s the GOAT in terms of soft, bouncy skin.

Unfortunately, your body’s squalene production starts to drop once you hit 30. Squalene-sapped skin quickly grows dry and rough. And that is where squalene skincare products step in.

Kinda sorta.

  • Squalene = the lipid that occurs naturally in human sebum, fish oils, and some plants.
  • Squalane = a saturated form of squalene that’s less prone to oxidation, making it more useful in cosmetic products.

Bottom line: Squalane (with an “a”) is a shelf-stable derivative of natural squalene (with an “e”).

Here are all the things squalene can do for you.

It hydrates

As a natural component of human sebum, squalene rocks at moisturizing. And using a stellar moisturizer is like the OG way to give your skin some TLC.

Boosting hydration is about more than calming dry skin. It’s like applying a blur filter to your face because it makes your skin literally softer and dewier.

It calms chapped, irritated skin

Got wind burn? What about dry, irritated winter skin? Squalene might be the soothing balm you need.

Because squalene is a natural emollient, it could be an effective moisturizer for a damaged skin barrier (basically, chapped, irritated, or overly dry skin).

It might prevent fine lines and sun damage

Did you know that up to 90 percent of skin aging comes from the sun? Exposure to UV rays can speed up oxidative damage, which leads to premature fine lines and sun spots.

Research from 2009 ( “Party In the U.S.A.” throwback!) found that squalene has oxidative stress-busting properties. #Winning

Bottom line: Squalene oil is no substitute for a quality sunscreen, but the antioxidants in squalene products might help fight off UV damage.

It could help manage skin disorders

Squalene is first and foremost an emollient. But treating dry skin can help soothe symptoms of skin disorders like:

Got dry skin? Squalene can help.

This supple superstar is best for folks experiencing:

Because young, healthy skin already produces its fair share of squalene, the ingredient isn’t essential until you notice dryness, irritation, or subtle signs of aging.

Wanna give squalene/ane the ol’ college try? Here are some to products to consider:

1. Biossance 100% Squalane Oil

  • Price: $48
  • Best for: dry, irritated, or sun-damaged skin
  • Standout ingredients: squalane, squalane, and more squalane!

Wanna go back to basics? This 100% pure squalane oil from Biossance is perfect for adding to your fave moisturizer, blending into your oil cleanser, or simply dabbing on at night for a morning glow (just 2-3 drops will do!).

Bonus: This product is fully vegan. The squalane (remember, that’s a shelf-stable squalene derivative!) comes from sugarcane instead of sharks.

2. Paula’s Choice Ultra-Rich Moisturizer

  • Price: $32
  • Best for: dry or aging skin
  • Standout ingredients: squalene, glycerin, ceramides

This thick, luxurious moisturizer takes dry skin and transforms it into a soft, supple glow. It’s best used as a night cream, but folks with super-parched skin can wear it under SPF during the day.

3. La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra Soothing Repair Moisturizer

  • Price: $31
  • Best for: red, sensitive, or irritated skin
  • Standout ingredients: squalane, shea butter, thermal spring water

This super-soothing daily moisturizer provides quick relief to folks with irritated, inflamed, or dehydrated skin. The shea butter softens and heals while the squalane seeps deep into the pores to nourish and hydrate.

Wanna give it a try? Your best bet is to apply by following squalene product instructions.

Here are some tips for layering this skin-soother into your routine:

  • Apply on clean skin. Whether it’s a first-layer serum or an oil dabbed on top of your moisturizer, squalene should be applied soon after washing your face. Why waste good product by slathering it on a dirty, sweaty face?
  • Remember that a little goes a long way. Squalene doesn’t feel oily, but it’s still oil. Start with a drop or two, then add more as needed.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen. You can — and should — apply SPF after squalene. Just allow the squalene product to dry down before misting/slathering/brushing on a quality mineral sunscreen.

What does squalene do for skin?

Squalene acts as a natural moisturizer and antioxidant.

By keeping skin hydrated and supple, squalene can help reduce fine lines, rough texture, and acne scars.

Is squalene toxic to humans?

Nope.

Squalene and squalane are both naturally found in human skin. It’s probably best not to eat the stuff, but these lipids are considered safe.

Is squalene good for health?

Squalene is essential for healthy skin. This lipid, which occurs naturally in human sebum, helps keep skin hydrated and protected.

Does squalene from sharks?

Sometimes, yes.

Because squalene is found in shark liver oil, some skin care companies source the ingredient from sharks. However, most squalene and squalane products are made from plants instead.

Carefully read product labels and research skincare brands if you’re concerned about where the squalene in your face oil originated.

Is squalane better than hyaluronic acid?

Determining whether squalane or hyaluronic acid is better depends on your skin condition and goals.

Both squalane and hyaluronic acid are produced naturally within the body. Squalane locks in natural oils, while hyaluronic acid attracts water content.

Fortunately, you can use them together for a super-moisturizing punch.

  • Squalene is an oil that naturally occurs in human sebum.
  • Squalene and squalane look similar for a reason! Squalane (with an “a”) is just a shelf-stable form of squalene (with an “e”).
  • As you age, your body produces less squalene. A deficit can lead to dry, irritated skin.
  • Applying squalene topically can help soften and hydrate skin.
  • You’ll get the best glow by incorporating squalene into a solid skincare routine that includes a gentle cleanser, chemical exfoliant, and sunscreen.