Ingredient focus

Ingredient In Focus: Squalane

As every {skin care} lover knows, hydration is an essential stepping stone to gorgeous, glowy skin. And the newest need-to-know ingredient in achieving this? Squalane, an ultra-versatile, easily-absorbed fatty molecule that promises to leave skin ultra-hydrated and luminous. But wait, don’t you mean squalene? Nope! While close relatives, squalene is very different (and much less useful) than {squalane}. Stay with us – it’s not as confusing as it sounds…


Squalene (with an ‘e’) is one of the key components in naturally-produced sebum, which works to keep skin hydrated and maintain its protective barrier. However in skin care formulas, it’s unstable and can easily oxidise – making it difficult to work with. Squalane (with an ‘a’) on the other hand is a much more stable derivative, created by hydrogenating squalene. Because of this, squalane is a more effective ingredient – and is likely what you’ll find on the INCI list of your favourite moisturisers, serums and oils.


As an adaptogen, squalane easily adapts to your skin type and, importantly, what your skin needs. Think of it as the ultimate multi-tasker. 

A natural emollient, squalane {hydrates} deeply and prevents water loss while also repairing the skin’s moisture barrier – which can be damaged by overuse of active ingredients and fragrance or by environmental aggressors. By boosting skin’s natural moisture levels, squalane reduces the appearance of texture, pores and fine lines and promotes luminosity. Sound’s good, right?

Squalane is also a saviour for {sensitive}, irritated or {blemish}-prone skin, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Basically, it’s ideal for anyone looking for healthier, more balanced complexion.


Traditionally, squalane was sourced from shark livers, where it is found in high concentrations. Luckily, these days a vegan, plant-derived alternative is much more likely to be used – particularly heartening news as squalane’s hydrating, glow-giving benefits can be found across every step in your routine.


Youth To The People’s {Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream} combines squalane with jojoba and shea butter for deep hydration that won’t clog pores, while Biossance’s {Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel} uses sustainably sourced squalane along with eyeseryl and argireline to reduce puffiness and dark circles around the eyes.

If face oils are more your kind of thing (and they most certainly should be) The Inkey List’s {100% Squalane Oil} offers a hit of hydration that your bank balance will love. Elsewhere, Indie Lee’s lightweight formula eases dryness and hyperpigmentation without causing the oil-averse among us to run for the hills.

Skin in need of a little extra TLC? We recommend Drunk Elephant’s {F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial}, an overnight mask that boasts a blend of hydrating heroes like squalane, niacinamide and ceramides. It’s perfect for Sunday skin recovery (especially after summer evenings spent in the pub garden!)


Chloe Lawrance

Chloe Lawrance

Senior Copywriter

Chloe is a Copywriter at Cult Beauty. She is a skin care fanatic and you can normally find her dispensing advice and recommendations to just about anybody that will listen (her cardinal rules? SPF daily; just say ‘no’ to face wipes; there’s no such thing as too much hydration). Chloe’s perfect day would be spent laying in the sun, a book in one hand and a cocktail (one spicy margarita, please) in the other. However, living in East London, the most she can usually hope for is sneaking 20 minutes with her Kindle and a pint in a pub garden.