Is Squalane Vegan? What Is Squalane Made Of?

By Anett Rannamets. Updated: September 2022.
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Squalene is an oil-like active ingredient used in skincare mostly for dry and mature skin. Nowadays, it is mostly made of olives. However, it is originally derived from shark liver oil. Therefore, it might be both, vegan and non-vegan.

It is interesting that squalene is a very familiar substance to the skin because it is similar to sebum. Now let’s see what other features this powerful active ingredient has.

What Is Squalane? What Is Squalane Made Of?

Squalane is a carotenoid carbohydrate. A colorless and odorless oil that does not dissolve in water. Nowadays, squalene is mostly made of olives. However, it could also be obtained from shark liver. 

This saturated hydrocarbon resembles the physical properties of oil. A common skin-friendly hydrocarbon, for example, is petrolatum. Squalane, however, is the primary hydrocarbon found in the plant world.

Squalene is smooth and nourishing, but not greasy. As an antioxidant, it has many beneficial features. It also works similarly to the skin’s own sebum. As squalane has a consistency that the skin recognizes, it is safe to use on any type of skin.

In the past squalane was an active substance only made from shark liver. It even got its name from Squalus, which means shark in Latin. 

Nowadays, squalene is mostly made of plants – olives, and less often sugarcane. Sometimes, plant-derived squalene is also called phytosqualane and is 100% vegan. However, it is as effective as the animal-based one.

Why Is Squalane Used In Skincare?

Squalene is used in skincare because it is an antioxidant that the skin is very susceptible to. It retains moisture and has anti-aging as well as skin-protective features. 

In addition to its moisturizing properties, squalane oil is also a fat-soluble antioxidant. It works with other antioxidants in the skin to neutralize harmful oxygen molecules. Squalene also helps to protect the skin from lipid peroxidation. A process that damages the skin’s surface and pores.

Squalene helps to repair the skin’s vital barrier. The protective layer helps the skin fight environmental stressors. So the skin could look younger and be less receptive.

The ingredient’s sebum-like properties help nourish the skin. It doesn’t leave a sticky feeling and is recognized by other lipids present in the skin. Such as ceramides and cholesterol.

Squalane is good for dry skin as it locks in moisture. It ensures that the skin does not dry out and forms the hydro-lipid film on the skin. Squalane retains moisture and reduces water loss.

As squalene is antioxidant, it is also an anti-aging ingredient. It helps the skin defend itself and retain moisture. Therefore, it helps to reduce and prevent fine lines and wrinkles

FAQ About Squalene

What is squalene?

Squalane is a carotenoid carbohydrate. A colorless and odorless oil that does not dissolve in water. This saturated hydrocarbon resembles the physical properties of oil. A common skin-friendly hydrocarbon, for example, is petrolatum.

Why is squalene used in skincare?

Squalene is used in skincare because it is an antioxidant that the skin is very susceptible to. It retains moisture and has anti-aging as well as skin-protective features. 

What is squalene made of?

In the past squalane was an active substance only made from shark liver. It even got its name from Squalus, which means shark in Latin. Nowadays, squalene is mostly made of plants – olives, and less often sugarcane. Sometimes, plant-derived squalene is also called phytosqualane.

Is squalene vegan?

Squalene can be both, vegan and non-vegan. A lot of the squalene in skincare used to be mostly animal-derived and made from fish liver oil. Nowadays, animal-based squalene is hard to find since most of it is derived from olives.

Summary

Squalene is a fine-line and wrinkle-reducing active substance that prevents water loss. It keeps the skin hydrated, helps other skincare products absorb better, as well as forms a protective layer on the skin.

A lot of the squalene in skincare used to be mostly animal-derived and made from fish liver oil. Nowadays, animal-based squalene is hard to find since most of it is derived primarily from olives.

This does not mean that squalene is always 100% vegan in the skincare world. So, we recommend reading the ingredients list before purchasing. Or shopping for vegan skincare only from vegan brands.

See also: Best Vegan Moisturizers, Best Vegan Serums

Anett is a passionate journalist, writer, and magazine editor with almost 7 years of experience. Through engaging articles, she brings kinder and more environmentally-friendly choices closer to everybody.