Ingredient Spotlight: Squalane

Your skin has a built-in moisturizing system, but as you get older, it doesn’t always provide enough hydration, which is why many people turn to external moisturizers. Squalane, a moisturizer worth taking note of, mimics your skin’s oils, making it an excellent emollient. Squalane can also help address stubborn acne and provide antioxidant defense against free radical damage.

Squalane vs. Squalene

Sometimes reading product labels can seem like a daunting college exam. Small spelling variations between ingredients can mean a difference in safety, efficacy, or potency. Squalene and squalane, for example, can easily be mistaken for each other, however, the two agents are actually quite different.


Squalene (with an “e”) is a fat-soluble antioxidant that naturally occurs in the skin. It is produced during cholesterol synthesis. Similar to Vitamin E, squalene can help protect against environmental stressors.1 However, squalene is highly unstable, making its shelf life extremely short. Squalene is also highly comedogenic.

Additionally, squalene is a lipid produced naturally by your own body, but the amount of squalene your body creates drastically declines with age. The peak production of squalene occurs in your teen years, and it gradually slows down after that.2

Your Hydration Timeline

Source: Biossance

For many generations, squalene was used in beauty products for its moisturizing benefits. The primary source of commercial squalene was, believe it or not, sharks. Millions of sharks were slaughtered for their squalene-rich livers to keep up with the demand. Up to 80% of the oil in sharks’ livers is comprised of squalene, which is notable considering that a shark’s liver makes up 25% of its mass.3 Alternative squalene sources do exist, such as olive oil, rice bran, wheat germ, plant sugars, and amaranth seeds.4


Squalane (with an “a”) is a hydrocarbon that’s derived from the hydrogenation of squalene (with an “e”). Squalane is the saturated and stable form of squalene. It’s also much lighter than its “e” counterpart, thus making it a preferred option for acne-prone skin. Squalane’s shelf life is also longer as it does not oxidize as quickly. Thus, it is far more commonly used in skincare today than squalene.

Like squalene, squalane also naturally occurs in small amounts in the lipid layers of the skin. It helps to prevent moisture loss while restoring the skin’s suppleness and flexibility.5 Squalane is readily emulsifiable, has excellent dispersion properties, and is highly compatible with other skincare ingredients. It also can be used without limits in many different types of formulas, as it is considered non-toxic and non-irritating.6

A company called Amyris has created a proprietary non-animal version of squalane that is made with fermented yeast and sugarcane. Known as Neossance Squalane, this noteworthy ingredient has helped to sustainably replace the shark-derived ingredient, saving more than 2 million sharks per year.7

About Amyris

Amyris was founded in 2003 with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The company ferments various yeast strains in sugarcane syrup to convert basic plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules. As of this year, Amyris has created and commercialized 13 sustainable ingredients that are used by more than 3,000 top global brands.8

Amyris is commendable in its mission is to shift the world to sustainable ingredients. It maintains an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report documenting its impact.9 Sharing the belief that human health, wellness, and beauty can be assisted with clean chemistry, brands like L’Oréal, Shiseido, Estee Lauder, and now Humanist Beauty have all chosen Amyris as an ingredient partner.

About Neossance Squalane

Neossance Squalane is a high-quality, highly versatile emollient used in a wide variety of beauty products such as skincare, sun care, color cosmetics, makeup removers, and deodorants.10

The key skincare benefits of Neossance Squalane:

  • Moisturizes
  • Improves skin elasticity
  • Reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
  • Enhances skin barrier integrity
  • Promotes cell turnover
  • Brightens skin
  • Absorbs quickly
  • Non-comedogenic

There are many environmental reasons why Neossance Squalane is superior to other types of squalane. First, it is made from highly renewable Brazilian sugarcane which requires little to no irrigation due to abundant natural rain. Second, sugarcane helps to naturally offset greenhouse gas emissions. And third, Neossance Squalane has been proven to be far more predictable in quality than squalane derived from other botanical sources such as olive oil.

A comparison of squalane from shark, olive and sugarcaneAprinnova and Neossance Squalane Clinical Studies

Clinical studies show that Neossance Squalane has amazing effects on the skin. Aprinnova, which is a joint venture between Amyris and the Nikkol Group, administers the bulk of Neossance Squalane research-based studies.

A clinical study performed by Aprinnova had a panel of 40 women aged 37 to 60 apply Neossance Squalane oil to their skin twice daily for 28 days. The results showed that Neossance Squalane had a smoothing effect plus a reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet.

Source: Aprinnova

Another clinical study performed by Aprinnova had a panel of 30 women aged 40 to 60 apply Neossance Squalane twice daily to facial skin for 28 days. The study showed transepidermal water loss (TEWL) was reduced by an average of 18%, and the skin-lipid barrier was enhanced.

Clinical Results of Reduced Transepidermal Water Loss

Source: Aprinnova

Additionally, after applying Neossance Squalane once a day to body skin after showering, 32 women aged 20 to 65 were surveyed with the following results:

  • 100% agreed that dryness on elbows and knees was reduced.
  • 97% agreed that legs were smoother and more moisturized.
  • 96% agreed that arms and legs had a healthy and radiant glow.
  • 94% agreed that legs appeared younger-looking.

Natural Assurances of Neossance Squalane

Neossance Squalane is ECOCERT-approved. ECOCERT is a well-established product certification that standardizes criteria for “natural” and “organic” ingredients. To be ECOCERT-approved, an ingredient or formula cannot contain:

  • GMOs
  • PEG
  • Silicon
  • Parabens
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Nanoparticles
  • Synthetic perfumes and dyes
  • Animal-derived ingredients

Neossance Squalane is also a USDA Certified Bio-based Product. This certification attests that ingredients come from renewable biological sources. Products that are bio-based help increase the use of renewable resources while decreasing the use of non-renewable resources.12 In many cases, bio-based products are cost-comparative, readily available, and perform as well or better than their petroleum-containing counterparts.13

Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil

Neossance Squalane is one of the key natural, sustainable, high-performance ingredients found in Herban Wisdom Facial Oil. It is formulated at an active level to help prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL) while restoring skin suppleness and flexibility.

The Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil is a powerful facial treatment fusing clean plant nutrients rich in antioxidants, adaptogens, anti-aging, and moisturizing properties. It is light in feel yet potent in activity.

Humanist Beauty is fully transparent about every ingredient in each of our products. We ensure that you are getting the highest quality formulations comprised of clean, vegan, nutrient-rich, ethically sourced, highly effective botanicals. If you’d like to review our complete ingredient summary, click here.

References:,squalene%20as%20a%20biochemical%20intermediate. [1] [2],is%20a%20compound%20called%20squalene.&text=Sharks%2C%20especially%20deep%2Dsea%20sharks,squalene%20found%20in%20their%20livers. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [10] [11] [8] [9],amount%20of%20renewable%20biological%20ingredients. [12] [13]