An occlusive moisturizing and emollient compound that forms part of the skin’s sebum. The main source of squalane had always been shark liver. Now, however, it is manufactured synthetically or derived from plant oils, such as olive and peanut oil.
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Squalane is a very non-polar, naturally found liquid compound. It is a hydrocarbon (meaning it only contains carbon and hydrogen atoms) with saturated bonds and is a part of the natural metabolism of all plants and animals.

It is an ingredient found in sebum, the oily substance produced by our skin. Sebum contains mainly squalene, squalane’s unsaturated counterpart, but squalane can also be found there.

Similar to squalene, squalane is also frequently added to moisturizers to help prevent transdermal water loss as well as to help rebuild the natural oily film on the skin’s surface. Squalane does this by mimicking the natural composition of human sebum, thereby restoring the natural balance on the skin’s surface.

Research focused on the additional roles of squalane in skin protection is still ongoing. Since squalane does not contain any double bonds, it is more resistant to oxidation and degradation. It is a safe, well-tolerated, moisturizing (occlusive), and emollient ingredient for all skin types.

In the past, the main source of squalane (and squalene) was shark liver (this is also how squalane got its name – Squalus is a Latin name for dogfish sharks). Shark liver contains more than 40% of squalene, but shark hunting must be properly regulated in order to be sustainable (although the sustainability of any shark hunting can definitely be argued).

Alternative sources of squalane are used these days. These include plant oils, such as olive and peanut oil. Squalane can also be chemically produced from sugar cane fermentation products.


Kim, S.-K., & Karadeniz, F. (2012). Biological Importance and Applications of Squalene and Squalane. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, 223–233.