My job as a beauty editor never gets dull because there is no shortage of fascinating ingredients and treatments in skincare. Some have been passed down through generations and cultures (think argan oil and bentonite clay masks) while others are newly innovated (hello, derma rollers!).
Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot about squalene, an oil touted for its range of skin-loving benefits, and I’m currently sampling The Hero Oil by Poetic Blend, whose first ingredient is squalene. This luscious serum further piqued my interest in this mysterious ingredient.
Unfortunately, squalene is obtained from shark liver oil. (Don’t worry—my beloved serum is animal-free!) Luckily, squalene can be completely vegan—and non-gross!—thanks to olive oil, rice bran oil, and amaranth oil. Like some of the most effective skincare ingredients, squalene is naturally occurring in human skin cells, and when we apply it topically—or consume it via food or supplements—we’re boosting our squalene supply and increasing our chances of befitting from this cell-protecting emollient.
Skin Benefits of Vegan Squalene
Like clay and various plant oils, squalene is one of those beauty ingredients that has been a part of this planet for ages. In fact, we may have squalene to thank, in part, for the proliferation of life as we know it! When the surface of our planet was incredibly hot (hot enough to boil water!), bacteria relied on the protective qualities of squalene to keep them from literally roasting to death. Eventually, some strains of bacteria evolved into plant and animal life. Thanks, squalene!
Although squalene played an important role in the history of, well, life, its use in skincare may be more recent. Sure, we’ve been moisturizing with olive oil for centuries, but squalene extracted from olive oil (among other plant sources) seems to be making waves in skincare right now–and for good reason.
Aside from providing moisture to skin, squalene serves as an antioxidant to protect skin from sun damage. Natural beauty guru and author of Bio-Young Roxy Dillon explains that squalene is even associated with damage reversal and may be used to combat coarsened skin texture, fine lines, and deeper wrinkles. But that’s not all—squalene also mitigates collagen thinning, molecular lesions, under-eye circles, and DNA damage. When consumed orally, squalene helps protect the eyes from sun damage. Also, dietary squalene is credited with helping us eliminate phenobarbital and strychnine from our bodies—those are some nasty toxins! (Is there anything squalene doesn’t do?)
How to Include Vegan Squalene in Your Beauty Routine
—Seek oil blends (like the one above) with plant-sourced squalene. Make sure squalene is high on the ingredient list to get the maximum benefit from this multi-tasking ingredient. Apply oil blend to skin after gently cleansing. Alternatively, use as a luxurious massage oil or oil cleanser.
—Make your own squalene serum by mixing pure vegan squalene with your favorite carrier oils (like rosehip seed oil, grapeseed oil, argan oil, etc.) and skin-friendly essential oils. (Combine squalene with antioxidant vitamin E for extra sun protection.)
Make your own squalene and essential oil blend. Chamomile is a lovely addition to any DIY oil serum and reduces inflammation for all skin types.
—Give your regular lotion super powers by adding a few drops of plant-based squalene to your daily dollop. Blend well, and enjoy happily moisturized skin.
–Use vegan squalene or squalane oil blend as a cuticle oil the next time you embark on a DIY mani. Reapply as cuticle oil every night before bed.
Squalene has a low comedogenicity rating (1) and is therefore unlikely to clog pores, but skin reactions aren’t always predictable, so try a test patch for a week or so to make sure squalene is compatible with your skin.
Have your tried vegan squalene in your skincare routine? What are your favorite miracle oils?
More in vegan skincare: Natural Beauty: My Breakout Emergency Kit
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Photos: Poetic Blend, Mary Hood Luttrell