Squalene vs. Squalane


If you have eagle eyes like us and religiously read the ingredients listing on your skincare or makeup, you may have come across the ingredient ‘squalane’ or ‘squalene’.  It’s not exactly obvious what it is and why two different spellings exist, so we did some deeper digging on the matter to give you some quick answers.


In a nutshell:

  • Squalene = a naturally occurring lipid, which is often present in plants, animals and in human sebum.  For use as a cosmetic ingredient, it was commonly sourced from shark livers and more recently from plants such as olives, amaranth seed and rice bran.  In its natural form, it’s highly unstable and quick to oxidize due to its molecular makeup.
  • Squalane = created by hydrogenation of squalene.  Through this process, the instability is removed to create a more stable molecular structure.  This protects the lipid against oxidization (so it doesn’t turn rancid) and gives it a longer shelf life.


Traditionally, squalene was commonly extracted from the liver of deep-sea sharks.  Obviously this practice meant that sharks were hunted for this precious substance, which put some species of deep-sea sharks in danger of extinction.  Sadly, hunting sharks for their liver oil still happens today, mainly due to shark liver squalene being much cheaper to obtain than squalene from plant sources such as olives.

When reading an ingredient label, it’s difficult to tell where exactly the squalane comes from, as it’s currently not a requirement to highlight this on an ingredient list.  The squalane we use in our products is extracted from the olive, sourced from Spain.

Squalene vs Squalane



Squalane is often used in skincare products because it’s an excellent moisturiser.  Your skin’s sebum is naturally made up of approximately 12% squalene, which explains squalanes good compatibility with the skin and popularity in skincare products.

From your mid-20s, the natural levels of squalene in your body start to decrease, so it’s helpful to use a skincare product that contains this ingredient.

Squalane helps to soften and smooth the skin by replenishing surface skin lipids.  It helps to restore the skin’s natural protective barrier helping your skin regain its dewy glow and protect it against environmental toxins.

Squalane is one of the skin-loving ingredients in our new Brilliance Facial Oil, due to launch in a few weeks. For your chance to buy it first, sign up to receive our email updates.



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