Though you may not realize it, having naturally oily skin can be a good thing. Why, you ask? Because for every shiny nose or glaring forehead there is a slew of benefits thanks, in large part, to an organic compound found in that oil called squalene. Squalene is most present in our oil glands and basically helps to lock moisture in and keep skin soft. It’s definitely having a moment on the skincare scene — and for good reason — it feels great, keeps our complexions hydrated, and works on pretty much every skin type.
The Skin Hydrating Secret Weapon
Squalene is an organic compound that you’ll find in both plants and animals. Without getting too technical, the general purpose of the molecule is to help in the synthesis of cholesterol and certain hormones in the body. So if your skin is oily, you most likely have a significant amount of squalene compared to someone with drier skin. “It has superb emollient properties that soften and soothe the skin,” Sonia Deasy, CEO and co-founder of Pestle & Mortar says. “It is a natural lubricant and protective skin barrier and has a high penetration efficiency, which makes it an excellent transport system for other ingredients.” When used in skincare, squalene also has both anti-aging benefits and UV protection properties.
You Lose Squalene With Age
Sadly, like many other things (collagen, bone density, our hair!), the amount of oil (and subsequently the squalene) in our bodies depletes as we get older. That’s part of the reason why our bodies become drier as well. So it’s important to replenish it topically, but more on that later.
It’s a Booster, Not a Substitute
Think of squalene as playing the part of protector in the cast of skin essentials. “It works as an antioxidant and emollient to pack an anti-aging and moisture-boosting punch,” says Dr. Michele Farber of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. Squalene doesn’t take the place of anything, instead, it helps other ingredients, especially hyaluronic acid, work better.
It’s Not Skin-Type Specific
Every skin type needs to prevent moisture loss and can take advantage of its ability to minimize acne scars. Even if you’re prone to oily, acneic skin, you can still benefit from squalene, as there are lighter versions that won’t clog pores. “Squalene is thicker than certain other oils for the skin. For acne prone skin, make sure you choose non-comedogenic products. While squalene is great for more dry skin, it’s saturated version, squalane, may be easier on more acne prone skin,” says Farber.
Where to Find It
More mature skin, that has already lost a significant amount of squalene should find products designed to replenish. Squalene in skincare products is derived from plants. There are pure squalene oils that you can apply solo or mix with other things depending on your skin needs. Look for it in moisturizers, lip balms, eye creams, bath oils and makeup foundations — even some of your favorite masks have it built into the formula. Shop a few of our selections below.
1. Pestle & Mortar Hydrate Moisturiser ($74): Look for softer skin while the formula helps get antioxidants pomegranate, green tea, and vitamin E deep down where they belong.
2. Biossance Squalane + Micronutrient Fine Mist ($32): Try an infused hydrating mist, particularly during the summer, when you don’t want or need any heavy moisturizers.
3. Glam Glow YouthMud Tinglexfoliate Treatment ($59): Bet you didn’t know that this cult classic anti-aging mask has a plant-based squalene that puts moisture back into your skin as it pulls impurities out? Yep.
4. Glo Skin Beauty Vita E Essential Cream ($50): It’s not too heavy, helps calm red or irritated skin, and is boosted with squalene to help seal in all of the goodness.
5. Pai Gentle Genius Camellia & Bergamot Body Wash ($32): Start your skin surge in the shower with a cleanser that adds moisture instead of stripping it away. The squalene here is from the camellia plant. Plus, it comes with a konjac sponge.
(Photos via Getty)
Want more soothing skincare advice? Follow us on Pinterest!
Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.