Squalene was discovered in shark liver oil in the early 20th century. By the 1950s researchers discovered that squalene was an important component of our skin’s natural oils. The emollient and hydration properties of squalane and its biocompatibility with our natural skin oils, make it an excellent skin protector. Squalane is often used in skincare products to ease eczema, help with damaged hair, and provide antiaging and wrinkle protection.
Squalene vs Squalane
Squalene (with an "e") is a polyunsaturated oil naturally found naturally in plants and plant oils such as olive, rice bran, palm, wheat germ, amaranth, and sugarcane. It is also found in large amounts in shark liver (squalene from sharks has been banned in the European Union since 2009).
Squalene, produced by our own skin, is naturally found in the sebum which is the lipid barrier that helps lubricate our skin. Squalene production increases during adolescence, when it composes up to 15% of skin fats, and peaks around age 25. As we age, our skin produces less and less squalene and by the time we are age 50 it can be as low as 5%.
However, squalene is highly unstable. When exposed to oxygen it oxidizes, becomes rancid and spoils quickly.
In order to make Squalene more stable, it is combined with hydrogen. This hydrogenation converts Squalene from an unsaturated oil to a saturated oil now called Squalane (with an "a"). Hydrogenation not only prevents oxidation and increases the shelf life but it also makes the oil more skin-friendly. Some Squalane is also found naturally in plants and human sebum but in very small amounts.
How is Squalene Derived from Olives?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not a refined oil and contains much higher concentrations of squalene than refined olive oils. During the process of refining olive oil, natural squalene is removed. Just like with the extraction of the oils themselves, there are numerous methods of extracting the squalene.
In order to avoid the use of toxic solvents like hexane, companies are moving toward "green" extraction technology. These companies are using a Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Extraction method. This process uses carbon dioxide as a solvent and yields high-quality squalene without the use of toxic solvents. It is the same process that can be used to extract essential oils. You can read more about this process in our blog "How Essential Oils Are Extracted."
Please Note: The content and information on this website regarding folklore or health-related benefits of certain ingredients is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended and should not be construed as medical advice to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.
The information provided is not meant to substitute the advice provided by your personal physician or other medical professionals. Do not use the information found on this website to self-diagnose any medical conditions or treat any health problems or diseases.
If you have medical concerns regarding yourself or your family you should seek the advice of qualified, licensed health professionals. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Our ingredients descriptions are about TOPICAL (external) use ONLY. For internal use always consult your physician or healthcare provider.
If you are trying a new product we suggest doing a small patch test.
Read our Full Medical Disclaimer.