Thursday, November 5, 2009

Squalene vs. squalane

This is a squalene molecule - note the "-ene" at the end indicating it contains double bonds. It's found in rice bran, olive, and wheat germ oil, as well as shark's livers! (Make sure the squalene you buy comes from olive oil and not shark livers - it's unlikely you'll encounter this problem, but double check to be sure!)

It makes up about 12% of our skin's sebum, so our skin identifies it as "ours" and soaks it up quickly. Squalene is a vital part of cholesterol, steroid, and Vitamin D synthesis in our bodies. It penetrates the skin quickly offering softening and moisturizing to even really chapped or cracked skin. You can use it neat or in a lotion.

But it's highly unstable with all those double bonds. So instead we use squalane, a hydrogenated version with no double bonds that offers us a lot of stability, such as a shelf life of over 2 years!

Squalane has the same great qualities we find in squalene. It can help chapped and cracked skin (in fact, try it neat!), helps prevent UV damage to skin, offers cell regenerating properties, and can be anti-bacterial. Remember, though, you can't make claims about the UV protection or anti-bacterial properties.

Try it in a facial moisturizer (replace the oils in this recipe with squalane and something filled with linoleic acids!) or in an eye cream. It is incredible for a foot lotion for really cracked and and dry feet. And an intense hand lotion or cuticle cream for cracked hands or finger tips would be an ideal application for squalane. In fact, you can substitute squalane for any light oil. The HLB is 12 to 12.9, so if you're using the HLB system to create an emulsifier, you'll have to reformulate for any substitutions (for instance, sunflower oil is 7, so if you exchange that for squalane, you'll have to re-calculate!)

Squalane and fractionated coconut oil in a lotion will give you an amazingly long shelf life - up to 2 years - because there are very few double bonds - if any - in both oils. Both are non-staining and sink in quickly, making it an ideal oil combination for a post shower body moisturizers!

Remember the shelf life of your lotion is only as long as the ingredient with the shortest shelf life. In the body mist below, the shortest shelf life will be the fragrance oils. In a lotion, if you're including things like hydrolyzed proteins and botanical ingredients, the shelf life will be limited to the life of those ingredients.

The down side about squalane - it's kinda expensive. You could make some beautiful lotions and creams with squalane, but as it can cost as much as $10 for 2 ounces, the optimal amount to get all those wonderful qualities is about 10%.

1% Vitamin E
1% fragrance or essential oil
10% squalane
88% fractionated coconut oil, sesame, or shea oil*
These are all non-staining oils so you can combine them how you like.

Mix together all the oils, then pour into a spray bottle. Use liberally after bathing or showering.

Join me tomorrow for fun with rice bran oil!


Anonymous said...


Would like to ask u a question. Between the Squalene (squalane) or Camellia Oil as a facial oil, which would u recommend an asian living in a hot humid weather all year round?

Heela said...

I was just wondering if you happen to know if squalane aggravates acne prone skin? There is a lot of info out there, but nothing reliable . . .

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Why is it when I see someone has commented poorly and aggressively, there's never a name attached? I've made it very clear that I welcome the chance to be corrected - click here - because I am very aware that I could be wrong. Calling me names, yelling in caps, and swearing does nothing to advance your argument. In any case, your evidence demonstrates nothing to advance your case.

I'm deleting your comments because of the incivility. You are welcome to post again using your name somewhere in the comment - a nice, "Bye, (name)" is all I ask - and without the language. Post the links you want - I will read them!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

The anonymous yeller was arguing that squalene is derived from plant sources while squalane was derived from shark liver oil. He/she wrote that I should "do my research", then called me an idiot and linked to Wikipedia. This what Wikipedia had to say.

As an aside, from Wikipedia...

From Wikipedia on squalene...

Squalene is a natural organic compound originally obtained for commercial purposes primarily from shark liver oil, though plant sources (primarily vegetable oils) are used as well, including amaranth seed, rice bran, wheat germ, and olives. All plants and animals produce squalene, including humans. Squalene has been proposed to be an important part of the Mediterranean diet as it may be a chemopreventive substance that protects people from cancer.[3][4] It is also found in the stomach oil of birds in the order Procellariiformes.

Squalene is a hydrocarbon and a triterpene, and is a natural and vital part of the synthesis of cholesterol, steroid hormones, and vitamin D in the human body.[5] Squalene is used in cosmetics, and more recently as an immunologic adjuvant in vaccines.

From Wikipedia on squalane...

Squalane is a hydrocarbon and triterpene derived by hydrogenation of squalene.

I'm still not sure how I'm wrong...

Heela said...

I have no idea why some people lose their manners when anonymity is an option. I'm afraid the answer to my question got lost in the cross fire :\

Sue C. said...

Heela, I was interested in hearing the answer to your question as well. Was it answered and I missed it?

Sue C.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I don't know the answer to this because there is so much conflicting information about acne prone skin and what it likes and hates that it's hard to say. There's not even a lot of agreement about the idea of comedogenicity, although you'd think it was gospel! Take a look at this post on acne prone skin and see what you think.

I wouldn't use it on my acne prone skin - it makes me break out quite seriously, but that doesn't mean someone else might not like it. (In all honestly, I wouldn't use oils on acne prone skin at all. I'd find oil free ingredients to moisturize, like fatty alcohols, proteins, and humectants.)

IQNatha said...

Good Morning Susan,

I'm Nathalia from Colombia, and I'm formulating a facial serum with vegetable oils and botanical extracts. I wanted to include squalane in the formula, but it has been really hard to find it here. The minimum amount I can get is 10 kg, and that is a lot for me! (The price is 100 USD/kg).
Could you please recommend me another product that could be more easy to find and with similar characteristics?
Thanks in advance!

Nathalia A.

IQNatha said...

Good morning again!

I take what I just wrote back. I hadn't read your yesterday's post where you answer this question, and give a lot more information about squalane. In fact you posted a formula for a facial serum hahaha, what a coincidence!!. I swear I hadn't seen it before I posted my last comment.

Anyways, have a nice day and excuse me for the inconvenience.

Nathalia A.

SoraUP said...

IQNatha!! I'm from Colombia as well, where do you find all your ingredients? i'm in Bogota and I haven't been able to find a reputable place that I can trust. Can you give me some pointers, pretty please? Thanks!!!

And to Susan, I'm reading your stuff like it's candy. Thanks for making all of these useful posts!!!

Kim said...

What is the shelf life of squalene? I have found squalene from From Nature with Love 9 claims to have a two year shelf life. But, you mentioned that squalene was highly unstable, so I am wondering what is the shelf life?

Febe said...

I am in Texas and have very hard water in my new house which is very drying!! Would like to try the spray lotion recipe you shared - but i don't have Squalane. I do have rice bran oil. Do you think this would be too thick of a spray? After we sell our other house i intend to look into getting a water softener. Until then, i need something to help with my scaly skin! Thanks for all the information you post and your candid comments on ingreditnts. Great stuff! Febe

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Febe. Rice bran oil is a great choice for a light oil. I wouldn't get into using something like avocado oil if you want to spray a lotion, but many light oils would work here, like fractionated coconut oil, sesame oil, pumpkin seed oil, and so on.