Can Hyaluronic Acid Dry Your Skin?

November 16, 2017

Although its name may sound harsh, hyaluronic acid is actually incredibly nourishing for your skin. It is commonly used in cosmetic products to hydrate and plump the skin. It is a naturally sourced ingredient that can be found in the human body and is a polysaccharide (carbohydrate).

How It Works

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means that it binds to moisture. It literally pulls moisture from the air around you into your skin to hydrate it. This powerful ingredient offers the following benefits:

  • Hydrates dry skin
  • Minimizes the appearance of wrinkles
  • Restores skin elasticity
  • Protects the skin against UVB rays

When applied to the skin, hyaluronic acid has the ability to penetrate the outermost layers and provide nourishment to the deeper layers. It also participates in the process of skin protection and tissue repair.

Why Some People Report Dry Skin

If hyaluronic acid is such an effective moisturizer, why do some people complain of skin dryness, even when they use pure hyaluronic acid skincare products? The answer lies in the air.

If you live in an exceptionally dry climate, you won’t be able to experience hyaluronic acid benefits because it won’t be able to do its job properly. Remember, this ingredient pulls moisture from the air and uses it to hydrate your skin. Unfortunately, it can’t do this if there is no moisture in the air to begin with.

One great way to combat this problem if you live in a dry climate is to use a humidifier to add moisture to the air when you apply your hyaluronic acid serum or other anti-wrinkle serums. That way this powerful humectant will be able to attach to the moisture in the air and deliver it directly to your dry skin cells.

Can I Use Hyaluronic Acid in a Sauna if I Live in a Dry Climate?

People tend to think that saunas are good for the skin because of the steam and moisture in the room. The truth is the temperatures in saunas dries out the skin, so they are not a good choice for using hyaluronic acid. If you just can’t skip the steam, you can still enjoy the sauna from time to time, but you’ll need to moisturize well afterward.

Is Squalane Oil the Same Thing as Hyaluronic Acid?

Squalane oil and hyaluronic acid have many of the same properties and benefits, but they are not the same product. Hyaluronic acid is very hydrating and great for the skin, but it cannot hold moisture in long-term. That’s where squalane comes in. It comes from squalene, which is an oil our bodies produce naturally. Olive plants produce it, too, which is how scientists create the byproduct. Unlike hyaluronic acid, squalane not only pulls moisture from the air but also keeps it there by trapping it on your skin long enough for your body to absorb it.

Should Squalane Oil Be Used on Oily Skin?

Although squalane is extremely beneficial for those who have dry or normal skin, dermatologists recommend that people who have oily skin avoid it. This is because the oil comes from sebaceous glands, which can cause more breakouts for someone who is prone to acne. Most experts agree that it is best used by people who have extremely dry skin or who are beginning to show signs of the aging process.

Can Squalane Oil and Hyaluronic Acid Be Used Together?

Skincare gurus seem to agree that there are no real benefits to using squalane oil and hyaluronic acid in the same routine, although they do feel that both have advantages for the skin. Instead of using them at the same time, you can alternate products. Try using hyaluronic acid in the morning and squalane at night or use each product on alternate days.

Browse Our Products

From acids to oils, Timeless Skin Care has everything you need to create the skincare routine that works for you. We offer products that are truly nourishing for your skin, without the harmful effects of fillers, preservatives or fragrances. Whether you’re looking for pure serum or hydrating cream, you can purchase from us with confidence, knowing that your products are made with safe and natural ingredients. Don’t forget to check out our Timeless Hydrating Eye Cream for those fine lines.

The 4 Best Squalane Oils

Using ingredients in your skin care routine that naturally occur in the body has become a growing beauty trend. And while hyaluronic acid has been the undisputed champ over the past few years, squalane is making a move for its spot. The moisturizing ingredient is also lightweight and non-irritating, making it suitable for all skin types. That means that finding the best squalane oil for your skin is simple — you can either stick to a 100 percent squalane formula and cocktail it with other products in your routine, or choose a squalane oil that’s already paired with some other good-for-skin ingredients.

When it comes to application, you can apply squalane oil in the morning and at night because it’s so lightweight. You should always apply the oil to clean skin, but if you use a toner or serum, you’ll want to apply those (and your eye cream) beforehand. You can use squalane on its own, or you can double up on the moisture by finishing with a night cream. Or, kill two birds with one stone by mixing a few drops of your squalane oil directly into your moisturizer.

Also, be sure that you’re looking for products with squalane oil and not squalene oil (note the different spelling). While the one letter difference might not seem like a big deal, squalane is a much more stable byproduct of squalene oil because it’s hydrogenated, which means it won’t break down as quickly (aka squalane equals a longer shelf-life).

Though traditionally sourced from shark liver and used in traditional medicines across Asia, today, skin care professionals source squalane in a much more environmentally-friendly and cruelty-free way, from plants like olives, rice bran, and sugarcane.

To add plant-derived squalane to your skin care routine, check out five of the best squalane oils available on Amazon.

1. A Budget-Friendly Option That Amazon Reviewers Love

Proof that good skin care doesn’t have to break the bank, Timeless Skin Care Squalane 100% Pure is under $15. The 100 percent olive-derived squalane formula has nearly 600 five-star reviews on Amazon, praising it for being able to do everything from moisturize skin to fade acne scars and quell breakouts.

“I have seborrheic dermatitis, so I can’t use very many products without aggravating it,” writes one Amazon reviewer who calls this squalane oil “a must-have,” adding, “It doesn’t clog my pores or cause breakouts, it sinks right into my skin and makes it glow.”

2. The Cult-Favorite Squalane Oil

Biossance was ahead of the hype on this one with their 100% Squalane Oil that can be used on skin and hair. To provide all of squalane’s hydrating and soothing benefits, the Biossance scientists developed a sugarcane-derived squalane that feels weightless and never leaves skin oily. This plant-based form of squalane is eco-friendly, and the formula is also vegan and cruelty-free. And if you can’t get enough squalane oil, Biossance’s entire line contains the ingredient, formulating it into everything from a rich night cream to a brightening vitamin C oil, and even an eye gel.

3. The Best Squalane Oil With A Retinoid

The Ordinary shook up the beauty industry by creating formulas with skin care’s most effective ingredients and making them affordable. The brand’s Granactive Retinoid 5% In Squalane pairs two of those ingredients — an advanced retinoid complex and plant-derived squalane oil — in one product that costs less than $30. While the retinoid helps to speed up cell turnover and increase collagen production, squalane thoroughly moisturizes skin to minimize typical signs of irritation that come with the retinoids (dryness, redness, and flaking).

4. A Squalane Option Packed With Other Good-For-Skin Oils

Another squalane multi-tasker, Origins Plantscription Youth-Renewing Face Oil combines the It ingredient with 19 other oils to boost the antioxidant factor. Chief among them are moisturizing, UV-blocking, and soothing oils like raspberry seed, sweet almond, and tamanu oil. Even with combining oils, several Amazon users note skin “doesn’t look or feel oily” after using it.

Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle’s editorial and sales departments.

If you’ve got a treasure trove of moisturizers, creams, serums, and oils in your bathroom but still struggle to achieve that coveted glow, it may be time to try something different. Or, if you’ve never tried an oil-based serum or moisturizer, it may be time to take the leap. More and more beauty companies are embracing the benefits of clean and naturally derived ingredients. And at the top of that list is squalane, considered a holy grail item by skincare aficionados and cosmetic formulators alike. Here’s why.

What is squalane?

Squalane is a plant-based compound. It comes from squalene, a very similar but slightly different version of the compound which is naturally produced by our bodies. In fact, it’s a major component of the lipids found on the surface of your skin. This substance is known for locking in hydration by creating a protective barrier on the skin’s surface. For this reason, squalane is used as an ingredient by many cosmetic companies in products that are made to hydrate the skin and lock in moisture. When combined with additional, super effective, ingredients, squalane helps deliver all that good stuff deep into the skin and then holds it in so nothing is lost. This is especially helpful if environmental factors, like a sunburn or simply a naturally dry skin-type, tend to cause your skin to lose moisture.

What’s the difference between squalane and squalene?

On the surface, these ingredients look like they’re just a minor spelling difference away, but they are definitely not one in the same! To put it simply, one can come from animals and the other is sourced from plants.

Squalene (with an a and an e) is an organic compound that naturally occurs in the human body. High concentrations of squalene are found in our skin, but there’s another source that produces even more of the antioxidant — sharks. Fortunately, squalene is also found in olive plants, which is where a lot of skincare companies have sourced the ingredient from in recent years.

Squalane (with two a’s) is a derivative of olive-sourced squalene. Thanks to a cool chemical process called hydrolyzation, it goes from an unsaturated lipid to a saturated lipid. Huh? Basically, hydrolyzation gives us a super-hydrating and skin-protecting ingredient that comes with all of the bang for less buck. What’s not to love?

Okay, but why is squalane so good for my skin?

Squalane is a dream come true for anyone looking to hydrate their skin. Because it’s found in your skin’s natural lipids, it’s recognized by the body when it touches the surface of your complexion, which means it’s super easy for our skin to absorb. That means it’s less likely to sit on your skin, where it could end up feeling sticky or heavy. It’s also a natural ingredient, which means it’s way less likely to be irritating for most people, and will typically work well with just about any skin type, regardless of age, condition, or concern.

Couple those things with the fact that it’s a super hydrating moisturizer that seals all the good stuff into your skin and prevents moisture from escaping our body, and that basically explains why squalane is so damn awesome.

How should I use squalane? Where can I find it?

If you’re looking to hydrate your skin and/or achieve a healthy glow, squalane is definitely worth looking into. Squalane has super moisturizing and emollient properties, and is particularly beneficial for anyone with dry or mature skin. If you’re looking to plump skin and reduce signs of aging, SLMD’s Hyaluronic Acid Serum is made with squalane to lock in the hydrating powers of hyaluronic acid for a double dose of moisture that’s easy on the skin. Applying a small amount to parched areas on your body, even like cracked heels or rough elbows, can ease dryness. Additionally, damaged hair in need of a drink can also absorb squalane — just be sure to apply sparingly for the best results and to prevent overly-oily strands.

Anything I should keep in mind when using squalane?

Some sources suggest that squalane may be bad news for anyone with acne-prone skin, but we’re here to dispel that myth — squalane is great for all skin types. The thing to understand is that the results of using squalane tend to vary depending on what other ingredients are in your squalane-based product.

In the world of skin-care ingredients, there’s more than a lot to keep up with. Things can get overwhelming — we get it. But we’d venture to bet that if you took a look through your medicine cabinet right this second, you would probably find a product or two that contains squalane or squalene (and more likely the former). Although both serve a similar purpose, that one letter makes a big difference when it comes to efficacy and stability. Confused yet? Keep reading to learn what the difference is between squalane and squalene and their benefits, plus some of our favorite products made with the ingredients.

Squalane vs. squalene

Squalene, with an e, is naturally produced by the body. More specifically, it’s produced by the sebaceous (oil) glands in our skin. The sebum that our sebaceous glands produce is actually “made up of triglycerides, wax esters, and squalene,” explains Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. As annoying as oil can be, all of its components, squalene included, “help to keep the skin moisturized.”

Charlotte Birnbaum, another New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist, sums it up succinctly, saying that “Squalene is a lipid, or fat, made naturally by our oil glands to hydrate and maintain the barrier of our skin.” The beneficial properties of squalene don’t end there; it has also been found to fight free-radical damage in our skin as an antioxidant, Birnbaum explains.

Unfortunately for all of us, though, our natural production of squalene “slows significantly after the age of 30,” explains board-certified dermatologist Samantha Fisher, which is why it makes sense that we’d all want to bottle it up and slather it on our skin. However, squalene in its natural state isn’t very stable, which is why, for skin-care purposes, it goes through a saturation process to become squalane.

To get into the nitty-gritty, the e turns into an a when squalene is converted into squalane through a process called hydrogenation. Why is this necessary? “If squalene was not hydrogenated, it would oxidize when exposed to air and no longer have its benefits,” Garshick explains. In other words, squalane is a more shelf-stable and effective version of squalene, which is why the former is the version that makes it into our skin-care creams, face serums and oils.

Where does squalane come from?

Squalene is naturally found in high concentrations in shark liver — yes, as in actual sharks, the ocean animal. As such, for a long time, shark liver oil was one of the most common squalene sources in cosmetics. Due to obvious ethical concerns, many companies have shifted away from using shark-derived squalene in their products; in fact, it’s hard to find it on shelves in the United States at all. Instead, “The squalane in skin-care products is now being derived mostly from plants such as olives and rice bran,” Garshick says. It can also be derived from other plant oils including amaranth seed, wheat germ, and even sugar cane, Fisher explains.

Who should use squalane and what’s the best way to do so?

Because of its well-documented emollient properties, people with dry and/or mature skin can especially benefit from using squalane, though it can really benefit all skin types (including sensitive). Additionally, since it works to naturally seal in moisture, squalane can “aid in skin-care problems wherein the skin barrier is disrupted and transepidermal water loss is an issue,” Fisher says. These include things like eczema, acne, and even psoriasis.

When it comes to how to incorporate squalane into your routine, there are myriad ways. You’ll find it in just about every type of moisturizing skin-care formula. Some of our favorite squalane-containing products for the face include The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and Youth to the People’s Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask. If you want to slather squalane all over your body, try Kiehl’s Creme de Corps or BeautyCounter’s Countermatch Adaptive Body Moisturizer, both of which contain squalane derived from olives. For the most delicate area of the face, try a squalane-laden eye cream, such as the best-selling Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel.

Who should avoid using squalane?

Another great thing about squalane is that it’s odorless and “not a common irritant or allergen, so even the most sensitive skin is unlikely to react to it,” Birnbaum says. That said, Garshick wisely reminds us,”For those with sensitive skin, while it is not thought to be particularly irritating, it is always important to be cautious when starting new products to make sure your skin can tolerate it.”

More ways to moisturize:

  • Why You Shouldn’t Use Body Moisturizer on Your Face, According to Experts
  • The 31 Best Face Moisturizers Allure Editors Actually Use
  • The Best Body Lotions to Soothe Your Dry Skin All Winter Long

Now check out 100 years of skin care:

Follow Allure on Instagram and Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter for daily beauty stories delivered right to your inbox.


This post may contain affiliate links.

Squalane is a fascinating lipid that is starting to gain some serious traction as a phenomenal skin care ingredient. This simple oil has been showing up in skin care formulas for decades, but now we are starting to see brands selling it on its own as a miracle oil for any skin type.

Advertisements Advertisements

I cover in this article everything you need to know about squalane – what squalane is, what it’s good for, the best ways to use squalane, and I’ve even got you covered with the best squalane products you can buy!


Squalane Oil Skin Care Guide: Contents

  • What Is Squalane? Squalane vs. Squalene
  • What Are the Best Squalane Oils?
  • What Is Squalane Oil Good For?
  • How Does Squalane Work?
  • Is It True Squalane Oil Comes from Sharks?
  • Are There Any Drawbacks or Side Effects to Using Squalane Oil?
  • How Do I Incorporate Squalane Oil into My Skin Care Routine?
  • Is Squalane Oil Good for the Oil Cleansing Method?
  • Is Squalane Good for Hair?
  • How to Use Squalane for the Body

What Is Squalane? Squalane vs. Squalene

Squalane is a saturated lipid that is produced when squalene is hydrogenated – in other words, combined with hydrogen. Squalene is an ansaturated oil that occurs naturally in a lot of different species of plants and animals, and it also occurs naturally in our own skin. However, squalene is very reactive and becomes oxidized quickly.

When the squalene in our skin becomes oxidized, it becomes highly inflammatory and can contribute significantly to the formation of pimples. However, once squalene is hydrogenated into squalane it becomes very stable, very moisturizing, and very readily absorbed by the skin.


As far as texture goes, squalane is fairly light, and it doesn’t leave the skin feeling greasy or oily.

What Are the Best Squalane Oils?

Excited to start using squalane in your skin care routine? These are the best squalane oils you should try!


1. Biossance 100% Squalane Oil

The squalane from Biossance is a guilt-free choice. It is derived from sustainably harvested sugarcane, and while the $58 price tag might seem steep, keep in mind that you receive a fairly large bottle. The oil comes in a bottle with an easy-to-use pump, so you don’t have to worry about making a mess. You can pick it up from Sephora.

2. Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil

This all natural brand carries a squalane oil derived from olive oil. It comes in a delicate 1oz dropper bottle that is easy to travel with. This squalane was just recently made available at Nordstrom.

3. The Ordinary 100% Plant Derived Squalane

It is unsurprising that a brand that appreciates simplicity and efficacy as much as The Ordinary would release one of the best squalane oils. Their plant based squalane is Ecocert certified. You can pick up a 1oz dropper bottle from Amazon.


4. Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil 100% Purified Squalane

This squalane oil also comes in a 1oz dropper bottle, but with the minimalist, clear elegance of the PTR brand. It is a sugarcane-derived squalane, so you can feel guilt-free trying. It is up for sale at Amazon.


5. Russell Organics Squalane Oil

One of the best squalane oils, this one is also vegan, derived from olives. It’s perfect for all skin types and perfectly addresses the aging skin issue, quickly plumping the skin to camouflage the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles upon application. Get a bottle for you from Amazon to give it a try!

What Is Squalane Oil Good For?

Whereas normally I would make a list of bullet points as to the things different ingredients improve, squalane is simply too unique. This highly occlusive, highly emollient oil is non-comedogenic, and yet is super moisturizing.

In other words, it doesn’t matter what skin type or concerns you have – you can feel perfectly safe incorporating squalane into your beauty routine. Those with extremely dry or extremely sensitive skin will benefit from it just as much as those with oily or acne-prone yet dehydrated skin.

How Does Squalane Work?

There are two main ways in which squalane works. First, as an occlusive, squalane creates a protective barrier over the skin, to prevent transepidermal water loss. This thin oil is barely felt on the skin, and yet it blocks a fair bit of moisture from escaping, leaving the skin hydrated.


Squalane is not the most occlusive of oils, though, with castor oil, mineral oil, and petrolatum being significantly heavier.

Second, squalane oil works as an emollient. The role of emollients is to fill in the barriers in between skin cells. Cosmetically, this helps the skin feel smoother and more supple, but it also has an important effect on the health of the skin.

When the gaps between skin cells are filled in, the skin instantly becomes stronger and more elastic, and harmful things like bacteria cannot penetrate it easily. This is fantastic for strengthening and protecting sensitive skin.

The beautiful thing is that squalane does all of these things while feeling light and non-greasy. It rarely causes acne, and because it is so stable it does not go rancid nor does it oxidize on the skin – an issue that might come up with other plant oils that are appropriate for oily skin, like rosehip oil or grape seed oil.

Is It True Squalane Oil Comes from Sharks?

So once upon a time, it is indeed true that squalane oil was derived from shark livers. However, since many shark species are considered critically endangered, and environmental movements have become increasingly vocal about the use of animal-derived ingredients in cosmetics, the overwhelming trend in the industry has been to only use olive or sugarcane-derived squalane.

Some companies will specifically detail where their squalane comes from, but if they don’t, feel free to send them an email and inquire.

Are There Any Drawbacks or Side Effects to Using Squalane Oil?

Since squalane is such a simple oil, there are very few concerns you should have about using it. It almost never causes allergic or sensitive reactions, and is safe for just about anyone.

Acne is a little bit more complicated. It is hard to predict which ingredients will cause acne and which will not, since reactions are very individualized. As far as skin care oils are concerned, squalane is fairly unlikely to cause breakouts, but even so, some people do report breaking out from it.

If you are nervous about breaking out from squalane, make sure to patch test it before introducing it to your routine. Apply it to an area of your skin where you occasionally break out, and if after a week you notice no unusual pimples or new breakouts, you can assume that it will work well with your skin.

How Do I Incorporate Squalane Oil into My Skin Care Routine?

Squalane, along with any other botanical oil types, cannot substitute a moisturizer in a two-step routine, because it does not have enough in it. You have to be using some sort of humectant-laden toner, serum, or lotion, which will then be occluded and elevated by the addition of the squalane oil.

An evening routine with squalane oil could look like this:

1. (Mandatory) Cleanse your skin to remove dirt, sweat, makeup, and anything else you may have accumulated throughout the day.

2. If you don’t use a low-pH cleanser, tone your skin to restore balance.

3. Apply any actives you use in your routine, including vitamin C, AHA, BHA, or retinol.

4. (Mandatory) Apply a skin care product to your skin that will load it up with much needed water. This can be a hydrating toner, an essence, a serum, or even a light moisturizer. It can even be all of the above, in the order of lightest to heaviest!

5. Finally, smooth a few drops of squalane oil all over your skin. The squalane oil with help push all the previous products deeper into the skin, and will create a protective layer that will not let any moisture escape.

6. Optionally, if you are also using a heavier cream, skin oil, or balm, you may apply it on top of the squalane for even more occlusion.

In the morning, cleansing is an optional step, but applying a sunscreen (or a moisturizer with an SPF) as a final step becomes critically important. Otherwise, you can follow the exact same steps.

If you are very committed to a simple, two-step routine, you can simply mix a couple drops of squalane with your lotion or moisturizer right before applying them to the skin.

Is Squalane Oil Good for the Oil Cleansing Method?

For the most part, squalane is not great for oil cleansing. It is a very light oil that sinks into the skin quickly, and it is also rather pricey. Oil cleansing is better done with oils that have a thicker texture, like mineral oil, that will quickly melt done makeup, won’t become absorbed by the skin, and will not cost too much.

Is Squalane Good for Hair?

Squalane also works beautifully as a hair oil, by fortifying and conditioning it. It also creates a protective barrier over the hair cuticles, and prevents moisture from escaping them. By smoothing the hair cuticle, it also keeps the hair looking shiny and soft to the touch, without a hint of frizz.

Squalane oil is light enough so that it doesn’t have to be washed out. You can apply it to your hair after heat styling, to keep it smooth. However, it is also perfectly fine to use as a hair mask for an hour or two (or even overnight!) before washing.

How to Use Squalane for the Body

All of the benefits of using squalane on the face also apply to the body. After all, having beautiful skin shouldn’t stop at the face – our bodies deserve just as much love and care!

The best time to use squalane oil on the body is right after a shower. After a shower, our skin is saturated with water that will quickly evaporate if we do not lock it in.

Squalane is an excellent post shower oil, because it helps keep that moisture in place without leaving the skin feeling greasy or heavy. Simply smooth it all over in circular motions while your skin is still damp.

Have you tried squalane on your skin? How did you like it?

Photos via @ch.phr8ph, @gracefulfaceblog


Hyaluronic acid vs squalane

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *