Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Don't forget about squalane!

In our haste to use the newest oils we can find, we sometimes forget about the oils that we might have purchased in the past. One of the oils I'm rediscovering is squalane, a bio-identical oil that we find in our skin's sebum at around 12%. It's not an inexpensive oil - 2 ounces/60 ml is about $11.65 at Voyageur Soap & Candle, for example - but you don't need a lot to make a huge difference. You can use it at 10% or lower to get the lovely skin feel from this oil!

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!

I like to use it as the base for a facial serum as it sinks in quickly and offers silky smoothness. (Original recipe can be found in this post...

20% squalane
20% soybean oil
20% camellia oil
10% evening primrose oil (20% for very dry skin, reduce the squalane by 10%)
10% borage oil
10% sea buckthorn oil**
10% rosehip, carrot, or other oil that looks nice to you

Feel free to exchange any of these oils, except for the squalane. Feel free to try using something like 20% evening primrose or 20% borage if you don't have one or the other. Keep the oils light and dry feeling for facial skin so you don't look all shiny!

**As a note, if your sea buckthorn oil is very orange, only use 1% to 5%. Only you know the colour of your sea buckthorn, so use your best judgement. 


Anonymous said...

Yummy 'natural' looking recipe! [Ha, I know there's a huge debate about what 'natural' even really means, but I'm still a sucker for the more wholesome-looking ingredients lists, even after educating myself with your website) :-P

Does the seabuckthorn oil add enough pigment for this serum to make you oompa-loompa-esque?!

Also, how does this serum affect the skin compared to a more complex, say, silicone / hyalauronic acid containing serum? I'm guessing this may be more soothing, but less fine line plumping, perhaps?


Elisabeth said...

And you had to go revisit squalane when I'm out of it and can't experiment... :-( Since it would probably do well in some kind of emergency treatments for thirsty hands (I work in a restaurant, and hands and nails are screaming when it's time for a quick lunch break), does it do anything for nails or is it a waste of money? After finishing the shift I've got a jar of lanolin and lecithin balm that does a great job, but it'd be lovely to have a lighter, faster version that would do some good before I have to wash it off again. Any useful developments in the industry since your latest in-depth coverage of nail chemistry?

Madeaj said...

Hi Susan

Could I add cera bellina to this to make a oily gelled serum? If so, how much would you suggest? Thanks for the great topics.

Annika Eriksson said...

I am also a big fan of squalane, but I use it in my hair as it is. Just a few drops. Works better than silicone:)

Kim said...

I love squalane! I always have it on hand and use it along with jojoba as the oil base for my custom-made cosmeceutical facial lotion. They both sink right in and leave absolutely no greasy feeling.

I also use seabuckthorn, but I am really wondering what 10 grams in a lotion would look like, since I only add about 20 drops in a 100 gram batch before it starts to look the color of butter - which is very pretty. A lot more than that, and I would expect an orange lotion and possible staining.

What color lotion would this be at 10%?

Melanie Dyck said...

Hi Susan,

At last, I found your blog when I am starting to make my skin care products again. I have been reading everything I can find about making a serum for mature and sensitive skin. I recently noticed that my expensive spa facial oil used a synthetic oil as the first ingredient. I was more than a little miffed as I feel that it is not really doing the job either. My skin is always very dry if I don't get it on right, right, right after washing my face.

Then I started looking through my tickle trunk of ingredients and found my squalane and fractionated coconut oil (both from Voyageur) and I began playing around. I found that a combination of the two made a great base for an anti-cellulite EO blend that I make. It works great to masssage into the skin without losing it's slippy-ness and it doesn't leave me feeling oily.

So then it was on to the facial serum. As those two ingredients penetrated my skin so much like to spa oil that I was using I decided to use them again and added evening primrose and rosehip oils. Adding a little vitamin E and EO's of carrot seed, rosewood, roman chamomile, and frankincense completed my first trial.

I just can't believe how similar my base serum is to your recipe. I had even added sea buckthorn oil to my next Voyageur shopping list. Now I know that I am on the right track! Would you have any suggestions for other essential oil to use for mature skin? And, what do you think about using meadowfoam seed and pomegranite seed oils?

Thanks for all your wisdom and I look forward to pouring over your blog once again.


Maggie's Muse said...

Took this to heart and used Squalane in a lotion with avocado and hemp oils! Oh. My. Stars. My skin loves this stuff.

Bye for now,

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi everyone! Don't use a lot of sea buckthorn if it is very darkly coloured. You can find very light to very very orange sea buckthorn - use your judgement when adding it to a serum like this. Or leave it out. It's up to you!

Hi Amber. This serum is meant purely as a moisturizer. It won't hydrate the way something like HA will do. It's a very basic serum, but one that you can make from home easily.

Hi Madeaj! When working with cera bellina, you'll have to do some playing to see what thickens it. I used 10% in this recipe, and liked it.

Hi Melanie. I'm a fan of pomegranate oil - it'll add a drier feeling silkiness to your serum as well as punicic acid - but I don't really like meadowfoam's skin feel. You can find out more about each of these oils in the emollients section of the blog. As for EOs, I'm not a fan of them in a facial product as I can smell them under my nose all day and don't like it. So I'm not the person to make suggestions for that topic. Sorry!

kki said...

Hi Susan,

I know the purpose of this recipe was to show how to use squalene, but what nut/seed oil could I use instead and still have similar results?

Thank you!

Sandeep Aiyar said...

Hi, Thank you for sharing all your wisdom with us and they are extremely valuable and I completely appreciate your efforts in educating us. I am hoping to make a 5-8% lactic acid body milk to safely exfoliate and address dry skin issues. I have decided to use Squalane 10%, Lactic Acid (7.5%), Sesame Oil, may be 5% Urea(Concerned about the smell), Pomegranite oil (5%), Rose hip seed oil (6%), Red Raspberry Oil (5%), Rice Bran oil, Mango butter, Niacinamide, Panthenol, Bisabolol, Rose or Neroli hydrosol, Allantoin(1%), Germaben and some Sandalwood fragrance oil. The problem is that I am not sure about which emulsifier I should use as all the you get in the US are not easily available in Europe. Can you please guide me with this? Also another important point is that I want the pH to be around 3. Do you think it is practically possible? Thanks in advance.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sandeep! I encourage you to check out the posts I wrote earlier this week about emulsifiers or look at the FAQ for the various emulsifiers I offer, or the links to lists section to see if I use anything you have in Europe. (I know I do!) I encourage you to read the posts I wrote earlier this week about failed lotions because you'll have to see how much of an oil phase you'll have and if the emulsifier you like will work with this. You have over 25% oil phase at least here, so Ritamulse SCG is right out.

As for the pH, how are you testing that?

As a note, I'm Canadian, not American!

Phillis Cheung said...

so according to your receipt ,we can use more than 10% of Squalane on our lotion ? up to 20% is safty?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

You can use 100% squalane neat on your skin. It's a great oil!

Hemlata Naik said...

Hi Susan
Thanks for enlightening me on squalene if I were to substitute squalene since we cannot get it here in India could I use olive oil instead?

ME G said...

Hi Susan, i can only find olive squalane in uk, is it the same thing?
Thanks, Irina.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Hemlata! You can use olive oil, but it won't feel the same as squalane is light and sinks in quickly, while olive oil doesn't do that.

Hi ME G! Yes, it's the same thing!