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Skin Care

What IS Squalane, Anyway?

by Burt’s Bees | 3 min read

What IS Squalane, Anyway?

Learn the what, the why and the how behind this super hydrating ingredient.

No matter how many steps you have in your skin care routine, you’ve probably seen “squalane” on an ingredients label. Squalane has seen a major spike in popularity, and for good reason. But, before you start seeking it out, get the inside info on what it is and how it works.

Wait—Is it Squalane or Squalene?

Actually, it’s both. According to the National Library of Medicine, squalene (with an “e”) is found in certain fish oils—especially shark liver oil—in high amounts, and some vegetable oils (from things like olives, rice brand, amaranth seed and wheat germ) in smaller amounts. Human sebum (that’s the oil that your skin produces) is 13% squalene.

Squalane (with an “a”) is a saturated derivative of squalene, from the same sources. The process of hydrogenation is what “saturates” squalene into squalane.

Both are oils that have been found to have antioxidant properties in addition to being excellent skin-familiar hydrators.

(This hopefully goes without saying, but Burt’s Bees ONLY uses plant-derived squalane in our products. Sharks are for Shark Week, not skin care.)

Is Squalene or Squalane Better for Skin?

It’s the “a” version you want. When exposed to air, squalene oxidizes and loses its skin-loving benefits. The saturated squalane won’t oxidize, though, and continues to pack its punch even when exposed to air—which is why squalane is the version usually found in skin care.

The big benefit of squalane? Hydration!

How Does Squalane Benefit Skin?

Anything your skin makes on its own to maintain hydration and protect itself is typically a safe bet as a skin care ingredient. Squalane is no exception. The big benefit of squalane is hydration, and since it’s not a known irritant, it’s suitable for all skin types to use as a moisturizer. The antioxidants in squalane also help fight free radical damage. (City dwellers, take note.)

What Kind of Skin Care Includes Squalane?

You can find squalane in everything from cleansers to serums to body lotions. If you want to see how your skin feels after adding squalane to your routine, you can start with a few of our skin care faves. 

Squalane Favs
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