Ask anyone what their favorite oil is and we can guarantee the answer will probably be coconut, argan, jojoba or any of the other “essentials” toted by wellness experts. There’s much to love about all of them; they’re inexpensive, multi-tasking and all natural. Albeit they’re not always the best choice for everyone, their popularity never seems to cease.
I am one of the few who actually enjoys a more lightweight formula, simply because I recognize the fact that something labeled “all-natural” isn’t necessarily natural to my body. This month, I discovered squalane oil and am convinced that it will become one of those “must-have” ingredients in 2018.
Here’s what you should know about it according to Teresa Lo, Senior Director of Marketing at Biossance, a brand that uses plant-derived squalane in each and every one of its products.
It’s Not Squalene
For starters, squalane shouldn’t be confused with squalene, which you’ve probably heard of before. Squalene is a key component and naturally occurring part of the skin’s lipid barrier. Lipids are essentially the building blocks that make up our skin. The squalene inside our lipid barrier protect us against environmental stressors and also act as an emollient (softener). In short: we were born with it.
But according to Lo, “the amount you make and retain decreases over time—reaching peak levels in your teens and starting to decline in our 20’s, leaving our skin rough, dry and vulnerable.”
So for as long as we can remember, beauty brands have combatted this by putting squalene in their products, since it’s an effective moisturizer and mimics the chemistry inside our skin. The problem is that historically, most squalene was and in some cases, is still harvested from shark livers–which has a devastating environmental impact.
“Since squalene is naturally present in high concentrations in mature shark livers, especially deep sea sharks, they are killed in order to harvest the liver,” says Lo. “The hunting and over fishing puts these species in danger of extinction and negatively impacts the marine ecosystem, as it take a long time for sharks to reproduce and reach maturity.”
It’s Safe for the Environment
Thankfully, industry pros have since switched to squalane, which is both a highly versatile emollient and more stable version of squalene. A lot of squalane is derived from olives, an obvious step up from the shark-derived kind, but you just never know what you’ll get in terms of quality.
That’s why brands like Biossance opt for plant-derived versions instead. They’ve proven to be more sustainable, highly pure and actually effective.
“Plant-derived means the starting material is a plant source, as opposed to animal or petrochemical source,” says Lo. “Our squalane is plant-derived through our proprietary biotechnology which involves a fermentation process using sugar from sugarcane that is sustainably grown in Brazil.”
It’s an All-in-One Product
All of that chemistry aside, squalane is simply good for the body. “Because your body already produces squalene, it instantly recognizes squalane once applied to the skin, so it absorbs quickly and easily, unlike other oils that might sit on top of the skin’s barrier. It’s almost like a lock and key – it fits perfectly,” says Lo.
It’s also weightless, scentless and suitable for the hair and skin, so you don’t have to worry about it causing any irritation. And you can use it in a myriad of ways: hair hydrator, skin moisturizer, cuticle oil, post-sun skin treatment, post-shave treatment…seriously, take your pick. What I love most about squalane is its ability to absorb quickly into the skin without leaving greasy residue behind.
Lo also says, “squalane helps preserve and maintain essential moisture, leaves skin exceptionally soft and smooth, accelerates cell turnover and helps reduce signs of redness and irritation.”
If you still need a little more convincing to trade in your coconut oil for some plant-derived goodness, take a chance on one of my favorite Biossance products below.
Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
A squalane-infused gel moisturizer that you can apply every morning for healthy-looking skin.
$16-$52, at Biossance
Biossance 100% Squalane Oil
The weightless, multi-tasking stuff we’ve been talking about in a bottle!
$14-$58, at Biossance
Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil
A lightweight face oil that brightens, moisturizes and firms the skin.
$72, at Biossance