We know that a critical part of skin health comes from keeping the integrity of the skin’s outermost layer intact. Squalane and squalene are both found in human sebum, making them potentially exceptional ingredients dedicated to reducing trans-epidermal water loss.
However, though they sound similar, their structure and how they behave are vastly different.
Squalene is a polyunsaturated hydrocarbon, C30H50,with thirty carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms throughout the length of the chain. Due to its unsaturated status, this makes squalene unstable and highly prone to oxidation which becomes comedogenic and sets forth undesirable side effects. It makes up 10-15% of human sebum and is found in vegetables and certain fish oils; most predominantly, in shark liver oil.
Squalane, on the other hand, does not have any bad side effects and is currently the ingredient on every skin obsessives’ lips. We will be exploring why that is with the help of Prudvi Kaka, CSO of DECIEM. You would’ve seen or heard about The Ordinary, no doubt. The iconic Squalane Cleanser, $35, is a famous favourite amongst many that quickly made their way onto bathroom shelves. Simple, high-quality and notably, extremely affordable, they provide no-nonsense single-ingredient solutions, thus making squalane accessible in a pure, unblended form.
Squalane is a fully saturated form of squalene, C30H62, meaning that its structure is similar but is non-reactive and has a longer shelf life due to its stable, inert hydrocarbons. “As a stable long-chain hydrocarbon, Squalane makes for a fantastic non-comedogenic emollient. Emollients are water-repelling compounds with a structure resembling that of the skin’s lipids,” Kaka explains.
This means your hydration will be locked and loaded by the oil that communicates to your skin as your own sebum. And due to its hydrophobic characteristics, “squalane helps to minimize excessive transepidermal water loss, while providing a soft, supple and flexible feel to the skin.”
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