Posted by Dr Davin Lim on

By Dr Davin Lim

Best used: In AM or PM (Up to twice a day)


Caution: Well tolerated product

Best for: Dry skin, acne, eczema

Comments: Moisturiser


Mode of action: Emollient, anti-inflammatory

Science Score:


☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

What is the science behind squalene?

This is a powerful emollient (skin softener) which balances oil production, providing just enough moisture to keep the skin clear and healthy. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect & hence can help with acne-rosacea prone skin. 

This naturally occurring fatty molecule accounts for 10% of the oils produced by your skin. It mostly acts as a moisturiser with important barrier properties, but it's powerful antioxidant properties help with anti-ageing too. 

Olive Branches SqualeneWhere does squalene come from?

Originally, squalene came from shark liver... not a very ethical way to market skin care if thousands of sharks are slaughtered just so we can moisturise our skin. So, in today's world squalene is derived from plants such as olives (it's different from olive oil), as well as rice bran, wheat germ, amaranth seed, & sugar cane. It can thus be classified as vegan, & organic.

What are the benefits of squalene?

This skin care ingredient has solid science behind it & has been used in the management of many skin disorders. Squalene functions as:

  • Emollient or moisturiser that is non-comedogenic (does not clog pores)
  • Anti-inflammatory properties hence ideal for patients that suffer from acne, rosacea, eczema,  irritant contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis & dry skin
  • Antioxidant & anti aging - it protects from free radical damage caused by UV & environmental pollutants

Does squalene clog your pores?

No, unlike olive oil, squalene is classified as non-comedogenic, hence it can be used in acne prone and or oily skin types!

Squalane oil

Is hyaluronic acid a better product than squalene?

Unlike hyaluronic acid, which increases the skin's hydration levels BUT is dependent on environmental humidity, squalene acts as a barrier to reduce TEWL or transepidermal water loss.

There is no better or worse in this situation, in fact, they work better together! Hyaluronic Acid increases the skin's hydration levels BUT is dependent on environmental humidity to do so. Whereas squalene acts as a barrier to reduce transepidermal water loss. This keeps moisture locked in by stopping water from evaporating. By applying squalene over hyaluronic acid your skin will have an extra sealant to keep it super hydrated. 

Can you replace your moisturizers with squalane oil?

Squalene oil is a powerful moisturiser that is suitable for all skin types including oily skin. It seems ironic, but tricking your skin to think it has more oil than needed can actually reduce oil production, this is called the negative feedback loop!

Squalene and squalane

What is the difference between squalene and squalane?

The ‘e’ makes all the difference. Squalene, found naturally in the oil glands of your skin gets converted to squalane. The former is an antioxidant however it is more unstable than squalane. In other words, squalane is a shelf- stable version of squalene, which is why the former is the most commonly found version that is added to our skin-care creams, oils & serums. In summary, squalane is more stable than squalene. 

Is squalene the same as olive oil?

No, squalene oil can be derived from various plants including olives, however it is molecularly different from olive oil. Unlike olive oil, squalene does NOT clog your pores. 

Are there any precautions when using squalene?

This molecule is odourless, with a very low immunogenic potential, this means it is ideal for patients with sensitive skin as allergies to this compound are extremely rare. As it is non-comedogenic, it is ideal for people who suffer from clogged pores, blackheads, & acne.  

How do I incorporate this in my daily skin care routine?

Having a powerful moisturizer with antioxidant properties that also reduces oily skin is too good to be true! That’s the power of squalene. A sensible skin care routine goes something like this;

AM: Cleanser, Anti-oxidant (Ferulic acid, Vitamin C, E) , SPF, Make up

PM: Cleanser, +/- Toner,  squalene, skin care actives (A, B, Skin Acids, or Pigment correctors) 

Davin’s Pro Tip

This ingredient is an excellent humectant/moisturiser with a very low allergic or irritant potential. As an antioxidant & anti inflammatory it can be used as adjunctive treatment, along with other skin care actives to treat conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, & atopic dermatitis.

The emollient properties of squalene makes this an effective moisturizer for patients with dry or mature skin. As one ages, the oil glands in our skin diminish, hence why the requirement for a more occlusive moisturizer after our fifth decade. 


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