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Squalane vs Squalene: What’s the Actual Difference?

by Ella Goodman 11 Mar 2024

Hey there, beauty guru! 

Are you intrigued by the world of skincare products and all the eclectic ingredients they contain? 

Ever stumbled upon "squalane" and "squalene" and wondered if a typo cost the writers their job?

You're in luck! 

We're going to break it all down for you in the most informative way possible. 

And yes, it will be entertaining too. We promise.

Let's dive into the nitty-gritty of these skincare sensations — and let you be the judge of what rules your beauty regimen.

What's the difference between squalane and squalene?

So, what’s the difference between squalane and squalene in a nutshell?

Here’s the scoop:

Squalene (with an 'e') is the original undercover agent, a natural compound found in our skin and in the wild — like in shark liver or olives. 

It’s a fantastic moisturizer, slipping between skin cells to smooth and soften like a pro. Plus, it’s got antioxidant powers, fighting off those skin-damaging free radicals like a skincare superhero.

But there’s a catch – squalene is a bit of a diva, unstable and prone to going off the rails (a.k.a. oxidizing) when exposed to air and light.

Enter squalane (with an 'a'), the evolved, more reliable version of squalene. 

Think of squalane as squalene’s cooler, more collected cousin who’s undergone a special training (scientifically known as hydrogenation) to resist going rogue (oxidizing). 

This process beefs up squalane’s stability, making it the ingredient you want in your skincare arsenal. 

It’s like choosing canned peaches over fresh ones for a long space journey; they're more reliable over time.

But why does this matter? 

Well, imagine having a skincare ally that not only makes your skin feel like silk but also doesn’t have a meltdown (literally) when faced with the elements. 

Squalane keeps its cool, ensuring your skin gets the hydration and protection it needs without the drama.

Both squalene and squalane aim to keep your skin supple and moisturized by acting as emollients (fancy term for moisture-locking heroes). They sneak into the spaces between skin cells, keeping moisture in and dryness out. 

And don’t worry, squalane retains squalene’s antioxidant mojo, continuing to battle those pesky free radicals.

So, there you have it. The difference between squalane and squalene isn't just swapping an 'e' for an 'a'; it's about upgrading to a version that’s got all the benefits without any of the baggage. 

It’s a skincare evolution, turning a good thing into an even better one.

Is squalane pore-clogging?

Moving onto another question you probably have: what the deal with squalane and your pores?

Good news: squalane is not an unwelcome stranger to your skin cells. As a non-comedogenic ingredient, it won’t clog your pores.


Now, let's delve into the science a bit more.

So as we know (but let’s be real, might have forgotten), squalane is a hydrocarbon derived from squalene, a compound that naturally occurs in our skin. 

You can think of it like a part of our skin's welcoming party for oils and moisture. 

But unlike squalene and some other natural skin components, squalane doesn't oxidize. That's geek-speak for, "it doesn't go bad or cause issues when exposed to air". 

This oxidation resistance feature is one reason squalane doesn't clog pores. In many instances, pore blockages happen because oxidized materials get stuck in there. Since squalane isn't prone to oxidation, it's an ally in the fight against blocked pores. 

Another key to squalane's pore-friendliness is its molecular size. 

Here's the thing - squalane molecules are small. Like, incredibly small. This tiny size lets them slip into your skin without getting stuck in the doorway (your pores!). 

On top of this, there's the compatibility factor. 

We mentioned it earlier, but it's worth repeating: squalane mirrors the physical properties of the natural oils - or sebum - that our skin produces. In fact, squalane originated from squalene which is a primary component of this sebum.

This similarity gives squalane what science folks call 'biological affinity.' 

In layman’s terms, that means squalane naturally jives well with our skin. It doesn't show up at your skin's door wearing a brightly colored hat and waving a banner that screams, "Foreign substance alert!" 

So, squalane pairs well with our skin, helping it retain moisture. While it hydrates our skin, it doesn't act like that kid at the soda fountain, going overboard and causing a mess (or in our skin's case, excess oiliness). 

Speaking of retention, here's where we zoom in on squalane's hydrating powers. 

Squalane excels at trapping moisture within your skin, working as an outstanding emollient. Thanks to its light, silky texture, it can penetrate the skin deeply and rapidly. Being an occlusive agent, it creates a barrier on your skin that locks in moisture. 

This doesn't mean it creates a superglue-like seal that traps everything. Squalane is breathable and lets your skin expel wastes, so they don't clog pores. 

Instead, it plays a more deft game, hanging on just long enough to moisture-lock without overstaying its welcome or causing other undesirables. 

Squalane is ideal for most skin types and works harmoniously with other skincare products. It doesn't play the dictator role and boss other elements around. Instead, it integrates well, magnifying the powers of other ingredients.

Now let’s draw it together and give you the short and sweet summary. 

Squalane has no interest in clogging your pores. On the contrary, it’s more interested in giving your skin a supercharge of hydration. 

Due to its molecular structure, love for your skin's natural oils, and resistance to oxidation, squalane prioritizes your skin's health, leaving you both looking and feeling brighter and smoother. 

So, no sweat! Add that squalane oil to your skincare routine without fearing a sudden breakout.

Does squalene make you oily?

Okay, so squalane’s had the limelight so far, but that’s not to downplay the benefits of its chemical cousin.

So what about squalene? Do you have to worry about squalane’s BFF turning your skin into an oil slick?

Thankfully, no.

Before you cast a wary eye at squalene, thinking it's out to drench your skin in oil, put a pin in that perception. 

This lipid may seem like a prelude to grease, but that's far from reality.

Squalene may have a slightly lush feel when applied, but don’t call the oil-control police just yet. You'll be surprised to learn that this nifty little compound could be one of the most balanced additions to your beauty regimen. 

Why is that, you ask?

Because squalene doesn't mess around with your skin's natural oil production. It doesn't throw it off balance or send it into overdrive; instead, it juggles it just right. 

Squalene, it turns out, has an adept hand at oil production equilibrium, a feat that many other skincare ingredients wish they had.

Here's another fascinating tidbit about squalene - it doesn't discriminate against skin types. 

You might be thinking, "Wait, does that mean even my oils-for-breakfast skin can handle squalene?"

Yes, indeed! 

Squalene isn't just for the normal and dehydrated skin types out there. Even those of us with faces that resemble shiny disco balls by noon can benefit from squalene-based products. 

Picture this - squalene, despite its oily nature, gently softening, soothing and strengthening your skin, while helping it to retain moisture and stay balanced. It's quite the skincare plot twist, isn't it?

How can we forget its emollient properties, either? 

Squalene's natural emollient properties mean it can form a protective layer that helps keep your skin smooth and soft to the touch but, crucially, non-greasy. It's the definition of having your skincare cake and eating it, too. 

You get to enjoy all the luxurious, rich feel of squalene without the drawback of unsightly, shiny skin.

Hold up a second - there's even more to squalene's balancing act. Did you know it also hails from your skin? 

It's one of the main components of the sebum (oil) your skin naturally produces. So when you introduce squalene to your skin through beauty products, your skin isn't meeting a stranger. It's greeting a familiar face, which might be why squalene plays so well with it.

In conclusion, banish the notion that squalene equals an oilfield on your face. This lipid is swift at balancing your skin’s natural sebum production, and it's offered in products that both dry and oily skin types can use. 

Plus, it brings with it a host of skin-soothing benefits and emollient properties, all without making your face shine brighter than the sun.

So next time you see squalene on your skincare product's ingredient list, don't get oily palms. 

Instead, welcome it with open pores; your skin is poised to enjoy its multi-tasking marvels. It's certainly not the grease monster you may have feared, but rather a sophisticated skincare hero. 

And isn't that what we all want in our beauty routines?

Can I use squalane and squalene together?

Alright, you skincare Sherlock, it's time to tackle the query of the hour: can you use squalane and squalene together? 

The answer is, drumroll please... Absolutely!

Why not whip your skin-care routine up a notch and offer it a power-packed duo of hydration? Your skin, just like you hanker for that one more sip of water on a hot day, craves moisture.

So, yes, indeed! Feel free to layer products containing both squalane and squalene. Picture this: a tag team where squalene brings the deep hydration and squalane locks it in. 

Sounds like a dream team, right? 

But, like adding too much sugar to your tea, overdoing it can leave a bitter taste, even in skincare. 

Your skin has a bit of a Goldilocks mentality – not too much, not too little, just right. Overloading it with too much of these emollients can lead to a greasy finish. 

Find the perfect squalane-squalene ratio that suits your skin type. You want to create a balance where your skin can soak in all the benefits without feeling overwhelmed, sort of like binge-watching your favorite series without the after effects of guilt.

Now, let's gather some brownie points, shall we? 

Popping on a mask infused with squalane is like bringing a party platter to hungry guests. It's like treating your skin to a lush five-star hydration spree while you sit back and bask in the glory. 

However, keep in mind, this mask is a bonus to your routine, not the main character. It's like the sprinkles on your froyo, darling – absolutely delightful, but the main course is where it's at. 

Now would you believe it? We’ve officially demystified the difference between squalane and squalene. 

Being informed is your skincare arsenal, and using this knowledge to your advantage? That's being a beauty boss.

Your beauty regimen isn’t just about nurturing your skin; it’s about fostering a deeper connection with yourself. Understand what you're placing onto your skin and let these meticulously chosen ingredients weave their enchantment.

Because, sweethearts, knowledge has made you not just beautiful; it's made you brilliantly beautiful. 

How about that, huh? You're now a skincare whizz who can discern squalene from squalane. 

So go ahead, wear this badge with pride!

Until next time, stay glowing!


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