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Why Squalane is the Best Sustainable Moisturizer Available Today

There's no shortage of buzzy ingredients in the beauty industry, from hyaluronic acid to vitamin E, but squalane (pronounced squah-lane) is one of the most dynamic ones available today. In fact, chances are good there are already products on your sinkside that contain the hero ingredient, from brands like Biossance and The Ordinary to Rose Inc and many others found in your favorite retailers. So what makes this particular sugarcane-derived squalane so great? Why is it a more sustainable choice than many alternatives? And how does it moisturize so well? Keep scrolling to find out.

What Is Squalane Oil?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between squalene, with an e, and squalane, with an a. Squalene is a naturally occurring lipid on the skin that moisturizes it, keeps it supple and protects it from the environment. As we get older, our skin’s squalene reserves drop, especially between the ages of 30 and 40. On the other hand, squalane is a renewable version of squalene, often found in skincare and cosmetic products.

“Squalane promotes lipid homeostasis in the skin, meaning it delivers moisture where it’s needed, without clogging pores.”

Where Does Squalane Oil Come From?

The squalane used in Rose Inc products, in particular, is a proprietary vegan squalane derived from renewable Brazilian sugarcane. The result is a better, greener and cleaner squalane.

“For decades, squalene was harvested from sharks’ liver and then converted via a hydrogenation process into squalane,” says Rachel Marlowe, senior content writer at Amyris, the parent company of Rose Inc and Apprinova, the maker of this type of squalane. “Livers of an estimated 3,000 sharks are required to produce just under 1 ton of squalane. Up to 2.7 million deep-sea sharks a year were killed to meet the global demand for squalane in the cosmetic industry alone.” 

Scientists later used olives as a plant-based source of squalane in place of shark liver oil, which was a step in the right direction. However, Marlowe notes that this type of squalane has a lower purity than Rose Inc’s vegan squalane and doesn’t deplete the planet’s resources.

“Our sustainably and ethically grown and harvested non-GMO sugarcane crops are located well outside the threatened Amazon region and do not contribute to deforestation of the rainforest nor compete with food agriculture,” Marlowe says. “Our manufacturing process utilizes sustainable production practices, including the use of cogeneration systems to supply energy." (This means the by-products of converting sugarcane into sugar are used to produce energy to power the plant, she adds.)

And don’t just take our word for it: Rose Inc’s squalane is a USDA Certified Biobased product, approved by Ecocert, My Green Lab Platinum Certified, Bonsucro Certified and EWG Skin Deep Rated.

What Are The Benefits Of Squalane Oil In Skincare And Makeup?

One thing that makes squalane a powerful ingredient in skincare and makeup is its exceptional moisturization capabilities that mimic the natural oils produced by the skin. “Lightweight and non-greasy, squalane is efficiently absorbed into the skin without leaving an oily residue and works quickly to replenish moisture in the skin while effectively preventing trans-epidermal water loss for an extended period of time,” Marlowe says.

She adds that other squalane oil benefits include balancing the skin’s natural oil production, reducing skin roughness, promoting cell turnover for a brighter complexion, improving skin firmness and elasticity, supporting the skin microbiome and repairing and reinforcing the skin barrier.

“Our sustainably and ethically grown and harvested non-GMO sugarcane crops are located well outside the threatened Amazon region.”

What Skin Types Are Best Suited For Squalane Oil?

Squalane oil is suitable for all skin types thanks to its non-comedogenic properties and ability to promotes microbiome diversity for healthier-looking skin. “Squalane promotes lipid homeostasis in the skin, meaning it delivers moisture where it’s needed, without clogging pores,” Marlowe says, making it great for oily and combination skin.

Dry skin also benefits greatly from squalane’s occlusive and emollient properties, meaning it smoothes and softens the skin better than other oils while locking in moisture for longer, Marlowe adds. And, since squalane is not a common irritant or allergen, it’s gentle enough for sensitive skin too.

Furthermore, in makeup products, squalane also acts as a skincare ingredient, which Marlowe says helps improve the texture of the formulations, allowing it to go on smoother and more evenly and stay on longer.

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