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Beauty Life & Style

Should you be adding squalane to your skincare routine?

A woman applying face oil. PA Photo/iStock.

By Katie Wright

Hot on the heels of hyaluronic acid, which has risen up the ranks to become the industry’s most in-demand moisturising ingredient, there’s a new contender that’s generating a lot of buzz on the beauty block.

Squalane is being hailed by skincare aficionados as the ultimate emollient – so what’s all the fuss about?

“Squalane is a plant-based oil, with a similar structure to squalene,” says Dr Elif Benar, dermatologist and founder of Dr Elif Clinic. “Squalene (with an ‘e’) is a fat which is naturally produced by your skin cells. Squalane (with an ‘a’) mimics your body’s natural moisturiser.”

The two substances are “similar but different,” says Ben Grace, founder of SBTRCT Skincare. “Squalene converts into squalane through a process called hydrogenation. This avoids the ingredient oxidising when exposed to the air, which would cause it to lose its skincare benefits.

“Squalane’s high purity, colourless, odourless and stable properties all make for a terrific skincare ingredient,” Grace says. “It is an excellent emollient that combines with the sebum to soften and soothe. Its lipid properties create an oily barrier on the skin which acts to reduce water loss from the outer layer of the skin.”

Dr Elif says that it can be beneficial as a day-to-day moisturiser and for those with specific skin issues: “When applied topically it can help to smooth lines and wrinkles, reduce UV damage, help erase hyperpigmentation, and also eliminate free radicals.

“Squalane is also beneficial for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. It’s naturally antibacterial, so has powerful skin-calming properties.”

Experts agree that almost everyone can benefit from the use of squalane in their daily skincare routine.

“Because of its excellent emollient properties, people with dry and/or mature skin can especially benefit from using squalane, though it can really benefit all skin types – including sensitive,” says Grace.

Dr Elif adds: “There are little to no side-effects from using squalane topically. You might experience some irritation and redness, but this is very rare.

“I’d recommend using squalane morning and night, incorporating into your skincare routine,” says Dr Elif. “As well as being a key ingredient in skincare products, it can be used in the form of pure squalane oil.”

She recommends mixing a couple of drops into your favourite serum or moisturiser: “Always apply as the last step of your skincare routine, then you will benefit most from its hydrating properties.”

Grace says that squalane has “a unique skin feel, is non-greasy, non-tacky and easy to spread, making it perfect for inclusion in leave-on moisturising products and oils”.

He continues: “At SBTRCT we use a vegetable squalane from olive oil fatty acids in our Moisturising Facial Balm. Used morning and night, it is quick to absorb and will impart softness and natural lustre. Our customers absolutely love it.”

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