Squalane is considered to be an unproblematic ingredient with multiple benefits for all skin types. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Also read:

Some buzzy skincare ingredients come and go. Others, like hyaluronic acid and retinol, have stood the test of time. We’re now highlighting another ingredient that deserves its place as a true classic: squalane.

Once sourced from shark liver, this non-greasy oil has now become almost entirely plant-based, and is derived from sugarcane or olives. Its benefits are diverse. People with mature or dry skin can take advantage of its emollient properties, since it’s a powerhouse for hydration. It also aids in skincare problems, like eczema, acne and psoriasis. A true all-rounder, squalane is also known for promoting elasticity and balancing oil production without clogging pores.

Our expert, Dr Yulia Krasnaya, who works as a dermatologist at Evolution Aesthetics Clinic in Dubai, says it’s considered safe to use for all skin types. But just how should it be applied? Scroll below to read her advice.

Editor's tip
Pick up your favourite skincare, hair care, perfumes, make-up and other beauty products while Amazon's Beauty Week sale is going on. You can also snag an extra 20 per cent off with the code 'BEAUTY'.

We did the research for you and curated a list of the best squalane products that you can add to your skincare regimen, for a hydrating boost. Pick your favourites below during Beauty Week with Amazon Prime for free, fast delivery.

1. Best Overall: Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil 100% Purified Squalane 

According to Dr Krasnaya, this formula is an excellent option for all skin types since it’s “ideal for those who prefer a lightweight, non-greasy texture”. Derived from farmed, sustainable sugarcane, Peter Thomas Roth’s squalane oil mimics the skin's natural moisture, and offers deep hydration, even as it prevents water loss. Reviewers say they’re surprised by how effective the formula is – it noticeably minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and helps the skin feel and appear softer, smoother and more radiant. Just two or three drops are enough for a hydrating effect, but some reviewers with dry skin say it works even better when applied after a separate moisturiser.

2. Best Oil: Biossance Squalane and Vitamin C Rose Oil 

Dr Krasnaya’s top recommendation is a luxurious facial oil that combines squalane with brightening vitamin C and soothing rose oil, and provides antioxidant protection and hydration. Lightweight and safe for all skin types – even oily skin – Biossance’s formula works to improve the skin’s texture and suppleness. Vitamin C absorbs deeply to reduce discolouration and even out the skin tone, while Damascus rose extract boosts radiance. Reviewers say they use this product twice a day, in the morning and evening, after applying their moisturiser. Some even mix it into their foundation for a buttery smooth appearance.

3. Best Facial Cleanser: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser 

The Ordinary’s squalane range of products is well-known for its efficacy. Dr Krasnaya recommends its “affordable and straightforward squalane oil”, and we share another pick here – The Ordinary’s moisturising cleanser. With a balm-to-oil texture, this formula includes lipophilic esters that efficiently dissolve impurities and make-up, backed by squalane to leave the skin feeling hydrated and moisturised. Since it’s noncomedogenic and soap-free, it’s gentle enough for daily use, and doesn’t dry out the skin. The key, however, is in application. Dispense the facial cleanser into your hands, and rub together to warm the formula so that it melts into an oil. Only then, massage it onto your dry face before rinsing.

4. Best Moisturiser: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream 

Formulated with 4.5 per cent squalane, Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream takes advantage of the ingredient’s powerful emollient properties. Just a pea-sized amount, applied to the skin in the day and night, can offer 24-hour hydration. Squalane combines with glycerin for a gentle, effective cream that penetrates the skin barrier to boost hydration and leave it looking visibly softer and healthier. Reviewers with sensitive skin also attest to the formula working well, since it’s fragrance- and paraben-free.

5. Best Repair Cream: Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream 

Another Biossance bestseller, this repair cream is packed full of nourishing ingredients to rebuild the skins barrier, leaving it deeply hydrated. Lipids and ceramides combine to improve elasticity and smooth out the skin’s rough texture, as well as prevent moisture loss. Next, hyaluronic acid and squalane work together to provide deep, lasting hydration, while omega fatty acids plump up and restore the skin’s barrier. The whipped moisturiser has a rich, luxurious feel, and works effectively against fine lines and wrinkles, as well. Some reviewers note that it has an odd fragrance, but it’s so effective, many are willing to overlook that flaw.

6. Best Mask: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask 

A K-beauty bestseller, Laneige’s overnight mask is known for its hydrating and revitalising properties. It comes as no surprise, then, that squalane is the star of this product’s ingredients roster. While squalane delivers intense hydration without making the formula feel heavy, a probiotic-derived complex helps to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier, leaving it visibly brightened. Since it’s a water-based mask, it feels extremely lightweight and non-greasy, with many reviewers saying they love its cooling sensation upon application, especially in summer months. People with all skin types can use this product, with no issues.

7. Best Sunscreen: EltaMD UV Restore Face Sunscreen SPF 40 

Since squalane restores the skin’s natural moisture and smoothness, it makes sense that it would be added to sunscreens – products that have been notorious, in the past, for drying out the skin. EltaMD’s UV Restore incorporates squalane beautifully. It combines the ingredient with ginger root to improve the skin’s tone and texture, and minimise redness and dark spots. This fragrance-free, noncomedogenic facial sunscreen also uses zinc oxide to ensure protection from harsh UVA and UVB rays. Reviewers say it’s a light and non-greasy formula, and many attest to wearing it under make-up, with no pilling or white cast. Some are surprised to find that it goes on like a moisturiser, rather than a typical sunscreen.

What exactly is squalane?

Squalane is a true all-rounder, and one of the best ways to lock in hydration for your skin. Image Credit: Shutterstock

You might have spotted squalane in the ingredients list of some of your favourite K-beauty products or face washes. Or, you might have read about another similar-sounding word – squalene, with an ‘e’.

We asked Dr Krasnaya to clarify the difference between squalene and squalane, to learn exactly what we’re dealing with.

She said: “Squalane is a skincare ingredient derived from squalene, a natural compound found in our skin's sebum. However, squalane is a stabilised and saturated form of squalene, making it more resistant to oxidation and suitable for cosmetic use. While squalane and squalene are related, they are not interchangeable terms, as squalane is the processed version commonly used in skincare products.”

Since our bodies’ natural production of squalene gradually slows down over time (after the age of 30, to be exact), skincare experts have found a way to convert squalene into squalane – a stable form of it that acts in a similar way, working to hydrate the skin and restore its elasticity.

How does squalane impact or benefit the skin?

Since it’s often considered to be an unproblematic ingredient, squalane can be found in a variety of skincare products, from moisturisers to oils and serums.

While it offers multiple benefits, its primary function is hydration.

Dr Krasnaya explained: “Squalane is highly beneficial for the skin due to its emollient and moisturising properties. It is lightweight, non-greasy, and easily absorbed, making it suitable for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin. Squalane helps to hydrate and soften the skin, improve its elasticity, and reduce moisture loss, making it particularly beneficial for dry or dehydrated skin conditions.”

So, whether you have dry, combination, oily or sensitive skin, squalane-based products should serve you well. However, Dr Krasnaya cautioned: “Individuals with specific allergies or sensitivities should perform a patch test before incorporating squalane-based products into their skincare routine. While squalane is non-comedogenic and unlikely to clog pores, it is essential to choose products formulated without potentially irritating ingredients for sensitive or reactive skin types.”

What is the best way to start incorporating squalane into one's skincare?

As with all new ingredients, it’s best to start slowly and steadily.

Dr Krasnaya shared some advice: “Begin with products like serums, moisturisers, or facial oils that contain squalane as an ingredient. These products can be applied after cleansing and toning, both in the morning and evening. Gradually introducing squalane-based products allows the skin to adjust and reap the benefits without overwhelming the skin barrier.”

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.