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It seems like squalane is suddenly everywhere in the skincare world – but what actually is it? Meet the plant-based powerhouse that keeps skin soft and smooth…
With more of us taking this time at home to focus on our skincare routines, it’s a great opportunity to learn about the most effective ingredients, too. One that everyone is raving about right now is squalane, with searches on Lookfantastic up 172% this month alone. Not only does it deliver intense hydration to skin, it reduces redness and provides a protective barrier against damaging UV rays. Here’s everything you need to know about squalane – plus eight tried-and-tested products to try now.
What is squalane?
It may sound like an exotic sea mammal you’d find in a David Attenborough TV show, but squalane is the shelf-stable version of squalene, a naturally hydrating lipid (or fat) produced by the sebaceous (or oil) glands in our skin.
As we get older, our bodies produce less and less squalene – which is where squalane comes in. Put simply, it’s an oil that helps replenish skin’s natural moisture.
Historically, squalane was harvested from shark’s livers, but most modern formulas are now derived from plants including olives, rice bran or sugarcane.
What are the benefits of using squalane for skin?
Justifiably hailed as a hero product for hydration, squalane locks in moisture, acts as a detoxifier to boost collagen production, and generally results in a smoother, more vibrant and complexion.
Research shows it also has anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce redness and swelling, and can help protect skin from UV damage (although it goes without saying it shouldn’t be used in lieu of SPF).
Can squalane be used for all skin types?
Finding the right oil for your skin type can often feel like a trial-and-error system resembling Goldilocks’ porridge experience. But happily, squalane is suitable for all skin types. It’s lightweight and non-comedogenic, so won’t clog pores, and feels notably non-greasy for a natural oil.
However, people with drier complexions or hair are more likely to notice the benefits of using it regularly.
What are the benefits of using squalane for hair?
Pure squalane oil can also be used on hair to increase smoothness, strength and shine. Simply add a few drops to dry or damp hair a couple of times a week.
When should you start using squalane in your skincare routine and how often?
There’s no lower age limit on when you can start using squalane, and it can be used daily. If you’re struggling with dry, dull skin, look for products that list squalane as a hero ingredient.
You can also apply pure squalane oil directly to your face, after water-based treatments and before moisturiser.
The best squalane products to add to your skincare routine
Biossance Squalane + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil
Vegan, eco-conscious, sustainable brand Biossance uses sustainably sourced squalane in every single one of its products.
The Squalane + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil is a particular favourite of Stylist’s beauty director Shannon Peter. “A glug of this cleanser is powerful enough to melt even stubborn brow gel and five layers of mascara,” she says. “I’m especially into the way a teeny layer of squalane lingers after rinsing, leaving skin feeling like it’s already been moisturised.”
Biossance 100% Squalane Oil
Made entirely from renewable sugarcane, Biossance’s squalane oil has been shown to significantly accelerate skin cell turnover in a clinical study (cue brighter, plumper, healthier-looking skin).
Use it on skin between cleansing and moisturising or as a mask for dry hair.
Tandem Skincare More Than Moisturiser
Another vegan skincare start-up, British brand Tandem Skincare prioritises simple formulations and sustainable, natural ingredients.
High in olive oil-derived squalane, Tandem’s organic More Than Moisturiser is a great everyday face cream (it also contains moisturising hyaluronic acid and strengthening ceramides). Even better? The tube is made from sugarcane bio plastic, and both tube and cap can go in your household recycling.
The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane
A lightweight, watery oil, The Ordinary’s 100% Plant-Derived Squalane is a great entry-point product if you’re new to squalane.
Sweep across damp skin after night-time cleansing for a face that looks and feels exceptionally moisturised, supple and dewy, or use as a hydrating hair oil.
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser
A brilliantly effective and affordable face wash, The Ordinary’s balm-to-oil Squalane Cleanser gently removes make-up and leaves skin feeling soft and bouncy.
MontaMonta Facial Cleansing Mask
Glasgow-born cosmetic scientist Montague Ashley-Craig founded indie beauty brand MontaMonta after stints working for companies such as Aesop and Cowshed.
A blend of plant-based squalane, exfoliating kaolin clay and soothing spirulina, her Facial Cleansing Mask looks a bit like pistachio ice cream, and comes in a beautiful recyclable glass tub.
Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil
Californian beauty brand Indie Lee uses zero synthetic chemicals in any of its products, and its olive-derived squalane oil leaves skin feeling velvety smooth.
Luneia Radiance Ritual
This creamy, Instagrammable mask was the first product launched by new London-based skincare brand Luneia in February. As well as squalane, it also contains AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) to gently exfoliate and brighten skin.
The chic packaging is also refreshingly eco-conscious: the tube is made from 50% recycled bottles and reclaimed ocean plastic, and can be recycled with other plastic once finished.
Images: Courtesy of brands
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