Due to a surge in popularity over the last couple years, squalane has become one of the buzziest skincare ingredients out there (it kind of feels like it’s in everything these days!). Here, we’ve broken down the benefits of the botanical super ingredient and how it’s beneficial for melanated skin. 

First up, what is squalane?

It’s confusing, but squalane is a saturated version of squalene, a common lipid found in skin cells that’s a component of human sebum (or the oily, waxy substance secreted by your sebaceous glands). You may see both squalane and squalene included in skin-care products, though squalane is a more common moisturizer since it’s less susceptible to oxidation, thus more shelf-stable. It’s also slightly lighter in texture and feel. 

Another fun fact is that squalane can be found from animal or botanical sources. In skin care, synthetic squalane is frequently derived from olives. 

What are its benefits? And what skin concerns does it address?

As an emollient—a skin-softening ingredient—squalane offers deeply hydrating and nourishing properties. Squalane is already naturally produced in the body, so it’s super gentle and non-irritating, even for sensitive skin types. 

Another huge benefit is that it adds lightweight, non-greasy moisture to skin without clogging pores (it’s non-comedogenic, so safe to use for acne-prone complexions!) While it’s helpful for moisturizing all skin types, squalane is also gentle enough to treat a range of skin disorders like acne, psoriasis, and eczema without exacerbating skin flare-ups.  

Why is it beneficial for skin of color? 

Hydrators like squalane deeply moisturize the skin, and restore the skin barrier, which is a plus for skin of color, which has been linked to high levels of transepidermal water loss (or the total amount of water lost through the skin when there’s no sweating involved). 

How does it help hyperpigmentation or PIH? 

As a gentle skin soother and moisturizer, squalane also comes in handy for preventing any inflammation that can cause PIH, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. 

Where I can find squalane in skin-care and how do I use it? 

Because it’s such a versatile hydrator, it’s common to see squalane pop up in ingredient lists for serums and moisturizers—like our Cloud Cushion—though you can purchase squalane oil on its own. It’s gentle enough to use with a range of skin-care ingredients like acids and retinol, and you can also combine it with other fatty acids and ceramides to maximize on hydration. Be careful, switching to a lightweight skincare has some nuances.

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