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How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

Ingredient Spotlight: Squalane

What squalane does for skin (and why it’s better than similarly spelled squalene).

Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team
Feb 19, 2021 · 3 min read

Woman adding skincare cream to her face
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
  1. blog
  2. > Ingredients
  3. > Ingredient Spotlight: Squalane

You might say that squalane is the true neutral of moisturizing ingredients. No matter your skin type, it helps with maximizing the absorptions of moisturizing agents into your skin, keeping your face fresh, hydrated, and glowing.

Squalane is also lightweight and non-pore clogging, making it great for acne-prone skin. Historically, squalane oil was harvested from the livers of sharks,¹ but this was obviously harmful to marine ecosystems (not cool). In skincare today, squalane is most often synthetic or plant-based, derived from sources like olive oil, sugarcane, and rice.

Squalane vs. squalene

When it comes to your skin, squalane is better than squalene. We know, we know — what difference could one letter make? Basically, squalene is found in nature, and squalane is its refined form.²

Which one is right for your skin routine? We’ll repeat: you definitely want squalane, not squalene. Pure squalene needs to be refined in order to be stable;³ that’s why you’ll find its shelf-stable form, squalane, in certain skincare products.

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How to use squalane in your skincare routine

Because of squalane’s balancing properties, it’s a popular ingredient in cleansers and moisturizers. You can also buy pure squalane oil, which can be used two ways: a) add a couple drops to your moisturizer, or, b) add a couple drops directly to your skin, like a serum.

When you opt for a product with squalane, it can help your skin feel soft without feeling greasy — so long as it has the right mix of ingredients. We’ll vouch for the following products with squalane as not having any potentially pore-clogging or irritating ingredients.

3 moisturizers with squalane

3 cleansers with squalane

3 squalane oils

If you want to take the guesswork out of skincare, then start your free trial of Curology. You’ll receive a custom formula with a mix of up to 3 active ingredients chosen for your unique skin concerns. You can add on any of our other products (like our rich moisturizer with squalane) at no extra cost — just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping/handling.

• • •


We did our research so you don’t have to.

  1. “The SQ extracted from shark liver oil is the most appreciated for its high yield (up to 40% of the weight of the organ); however, the extraction of plant sources is becoming increasingly important, given the protection of marine species in danger of extinction and the release of prohibitive norms on the extraction of SQ from marine species.” From Plant Sources, Extraction Methods, and Uses of Squalene. M. Azalia Lozano-Grande, et al. International Journal of Agronomy. (2018, March 2).

  2. Anisha Sethi, et al. Moisturizers: The Slippery Road. Indian Journal of Dermatology. (May 2016).

  3. Ibid.

Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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