Promises, Promises Part 2: The Squalane Story

Look 10 years younger overnight! Who can resist a pitch like that—especially when the pitch letter comes with a free sample? So it’s only human to give the latest miracle ingredient a try—and to be disappointed when you look exactly the same the next day. Squalane: Hope or Hype? The natural emollient squalane is one of the latest examples of a skincare ingredient that cosmetics manufacturers love to hype. So, if you’ve been under-whelmed by the results achieved after a week or two of using a good-quality natural squalane cream you may already be suffering “buyer’s remorse.” In cases like this, however, the real problem usually lies not in the ingredient itself, but in the manufacturer’s false product claims. My experience as an aesthetician and lifetime user of plant-derived oils and emollients has taught me that improving the appearance of a damaged, aging complexion takes time and a long-term commitment to protecting and nourishing your skin’s health. What’s So Special About Squalane? So before you abandon this natural moisturizer for a cheaper petroleum derivative such as mineral oil, let’s look at the facts about squalane. 1.    Safety and Effectiveness Squalane is a stabilized version of squalene, one of the natural moisturizing factors (NMFs),  found in the stratum corneum, or outer layer of human skin.  Squalane’s close resemblance to human sebum ensures our skin is able to quickly absorb this natural oil and to benefit from its ability to keep our complexions soft, moist, and supple with minimal chance of negative side effects. 2.    Antioxidant Power A recent study on the environmental pollutant ozone by Charles Weschler of New Jersey Environmental and Occupational Health Institute suggests that squalene is the primary antioxidant in our skin that protects against ozone’s harmful effects. 3.  Green Goodness The plant-derived squalane in all-natural skincare products is a safe, eco-friendly ingredient. Squalane sources such as olive oil, olive leaf, and rice bran are environmentally responsible alternatives to shark’s livers that avoid further depleting the world’s overfished oceans. Reality Check When it comes to evaluating skincare products, a little fact checking can save you a lot of money and disappointment—but don’t forget to check your expectations first. Image: Andy Newson /