Do you understand the difference between squalene and squalane? Both the words look similar, but an ‘e’ can make a lot of difference. Let’s find out how are these 2 skincare ingredients are different from each other. Squalene and squalane are basically the same compounds, however, squalane is a lab derived ingredient that is more stable than squalene. This ingredient is great for skin and combats dryness. In this blog, let's decipher the benefits of these ingredients and discuss which of the two is better and who should use it.
What Is Squalene?
Squalene is a poly-unsaturated hydrocarbon liquid that is naturally produced by the body. It is mostly found in the human sebum. Sebum is composed of squalene, triglycerides, wax esters and other chemical components. Squalene is found in shark liver oil and is naturally derived from various plant species such as olive oil, rice bran oil and palm oil. Its main function in the body is to provide protection and lubrication to our skin. It is mainly used in cosmetic products as a moisturizing ingredient. Human sebum is known to have 12-13% of squalene.
Technically speaking, squalene is an organic compound with six nonconjugated double bonds, which means it is extremely unstable and likely to undergo degradation. Due to its non-conjugated double bonds squalene gets oxidised easily when it comes in contact with sunlight, pollutants.
Squalene in the sebum plays a vital role in keeping your skin moisturized. It also repairs the damaged skin cells and rejuvenates your skin, making it look well-nourished and hydrated.
What Is Squalane?
Squalane is a hydrocarbon produced by hydrogenating squalene. In skincare formulations, squalane and squalene both act as emollients and moisturizers. However, Squalane is considered to be more stable, as it contains hydrogen, hence is not subjected to oxidation. Thus Squalane is effectively used in skincare products as it does not get degraded easily. Moreover, Squalane is lightweight as compared to Squalene, hence considered beneficial in treating acne and congestion. Squalane in skincare products gives a non-greasy feel to your skin.
Squalane exhibits antioxidant property which effectively fights free radicals, reducing wrinkles and fine lines.
Squalane Vs Squalene: Which Is Better?
Though both are used in skincare for the same purpose, there are a few noteworthy differences between Squalane and Squalene. Both are lipids and are used in the majority of skin care products such as creams and moisturizing lotion.
- Squalene is synthesized in the liver, circulated through the bloodstream, and finally released by the sebaceous glands in our body. It is found in the outer lipid layers of the skin which helps to keep your skin hydrated. Squalane is derived from Squalene by the process of hydrogenation.
- Squalene is predominantly derived from vegetable oils such as olive oil, rice bran oil, and wheat germ oil, while Squalane is a hydrogenated version of Squalene.
- Squalene is less stable while Squalane is more stable in the skincare formula and has a longer shelf life. Hence Squalane is readily used in cosmetic products.
- Squalane has a much lighter consistency as compared to Squalene and is a better option for oily and acne-prone skin.
- Compared to squalene, squalane is beneficial for acne-prone skin because it does not clog pores, whereas squalene reduces wrinkles and fine lines but is known to clog pores.
- Squalene is a natural antioxidant that fights free radicals, Squalane reduces the appearance of premature signs of ageing.
- As a result, the conversion from squalene to squalane does not affect the biology and utility of squalene, and both are equally effective. But still, Squalane is more preferable in the cosmetic industry because of its stability and longer shelf life
Skincare Benefits Of Squalane And Squalene
Let’s decipher the skincare benefits of Squalane and Squalene.
1. An Excellent Emollient
Both Squalane and Squalene exhibit emollient property as it is quite similar to your skin’s natural oil. Both work as an occlusive emollient by forming a hydrating barrier over the skin surface and locking the moisture under the skin surface, preventing transepidermal water loss.
Due to its thick consistency, Squalene is considered to be best suited for extremely dry and mature skin. Whereas Squalane is the preferred option for oily and acne-prone skin, because of its lighter consistency.
2. Maintains The Barrier Function Of The Skin
Due to its occlusive nature, both Squalene and Squalane form a protective layer over the skin surface, sealing the moisture inside the skin. Both the ingredients repair the damaged lipid layer of the skin, thus improving the barrier function of the skin. It is beneficial for people with dry skin conditions.
3. Exhibits Anti-Ageing Property
Squalene which is the main ingredient of the human sebum helps to keep your skin soft, smooth and hydrated. But along with ageing, the production of Squalene gradually decreases in our body. This affects the texture and appearance of the skin leading to the appearance of early signs of ageing.
Here, we need to compensate for the loss of Squalene in our body through the external source of Squalene. Due to its highly unstable nature, bottling up squalene may not be the best idea. Fortunately, squalane is there to help!
Slathering your skin with Squalane-infused products helps to have youthful and problem-free skin. You can introduce Squalane in your daily skincare regime in your 20s, because of the anti-ageing benefits of Squalane.
4. Fights Free Radicals
Whenever the body is exposed to stress, pollution and UV light, free radicals are produced. These are unstable molecules that are deficient in electrons and they readily attach itself to the protein molecules, resulting in cellular damage to the skin. This results in the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles and sagging skin.
Squalene which is highly unstable donates its electron to the free radical, neutralizing its effect on the skin. Thus the free radical no longer is harmful to the skin.
Whereas Squalane is more stable in nature, does not undergo oxidation, hence not very effective in scavenging free radicals. Thus, it is not as effective as squalene in terms of antioxidant properties.
Squalene is beneficial for dry and mature skin because of its skin hydrating and anti-ageing properties whereas Squalane is beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin, as it does not clog the pores of your skin.
Choose Squalene or Squalane based skincare product depending upon your skin type and its requirements.
Generally, Squalene and Squalane are considered safe for skin with minimum or no side effects even on sensitive skin. Though Squalane is non-comedogenic and is safe for acne prone skin as well. Since squalene is unstable, it oxidizes easily and goes rancid quickly. Hence Squalane is the most preferred ingredient in skincare products.
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