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Squalene is a transparent and odorless oil known for its skin-protective properties. Its beneficial action was first recognized by traditional Mediterranean medicine. Squalene was primarily extracted from shark liver oil (its name derives from the Latin term squalus, spurdog shark), however, modern pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries prefer using vegetable-derived sources. The highest plant-based source of squalene is found in olive oil and sugar cane as well as in palm, wheatgerm, and amaranth oil.
Squalene is a triterpene and one of the main compounds (up to 15%) of the human sebum, an oil-like substance produced by sebaceous glands to protect and lubricate the skin and hair. Its chemical structure resembles organic compounds that support the maintenance and protection of healthy skin, such as coenzyme Q10, β-carotene, vitamins A, D, E, and K1.
Squalene’s primary purpose is protection against free radicals and UV radiation—the most common causes for skin damage that can potentially result in skin cancer. Exposure to oxidative stress (like sunlight) induces lipid peroxidation, a process which causes decomposition of lipids, collagen, and skin cell DNA. As a consequence, the skin starts to deteriorate and becomes prematurely aged, chapped, wrinkled, itching, and red.
Squalene protects the skin from these harmful processes by slowing down the oxidative breakdown of lipids and by acting as an oxygen collector making it an important antioxidant. It is clinically proven that squalene-containing remedies protect the skin, maintain its lubrication, and alleviate irritation. Additional studies show that squalene also enhances the skin’s own regenerative abilities, keeping it fresh and flexible.
SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SQUALENE AND SQUALANE
Although squalene and squalane have similar chemical formulas, there is an important distinction between them. Squalene is a natural substance found in our own sebum and has a substantial disadvantage: it is a polyunsaturated hydrocarbon which means it oxidizes relatively quickly, becoming chemically unstable. Though both squalene and squalane have similarly proven health benefits, squalane does not change its chemical state when exposed to air. In other words, squalane is naturally purified and hydrogenated squalene, but very stable, not prone to oxidation and suitable for nutraceutical and pharmaceutical use.
SQUALANE AND ITS PROPERTIES
Squalane’s nearly identical composition with the human sebum makes it entirely compatible with the skin. It is non-toxic, non-irritating and perfect for allergy-prone, sensitive skin.
Dermatological case studies show that squalane’s properties allow for deep skin penetration. This makes it an important carrier of active substances helping the skin layers to absorb nourishment more efficiently. It permeates the skin slowly which is particularly beneficial for people with sensitive skin requiring a powerful, yet non-intrusive and non-irritating remedy.
Squalane starts restoring the skin barrier as soon as it enters the epidermis. The epidermis has both external and internal functions, preventing harmful microorganisms from penetrating into the human body through the skin while simultaneously retaining the moisture inside the skin.
Squalane, too, has a dual role: it creates an additional layer on the skin to protect the skin surface from harmful environmental influences and enables the inner layers to retain moisture more effectively. Since squalane has the ability to permeate into the epidermis and deeper layers of the skin, it helps the skin to regenerate and repair itself from the inside out, directly influencing the general appearance of the skin.
Squalane alleviates sensitive skin from conditions such as itchiness, dryness, redness, eczema, psoriasis etc. Skin becomes more supple, flexible, and elastic.
MATURE SKIN AND EXPOSURE TO SUN
Squalane assists other skin-protecting components through its healing and prophylactic properties. This is especially important for mature female’s skin because the body’s ability to naturally produce squalene begins to drop after the age of 30, and even more so after menopause. When we hit the age of 50, we are left with only 5% of our own, natural squalene in the skin. Replensihing it topically is the only option.
Consequently, the skin becomes less effective in fighting photoaging (skin damage due to sunlight exposure over an extended period of time). Signs of photoaging are visible in the form of age spots on the skin that can potentially lead to different forms of cancerous disease. Dark spots indicate that the skin is attempting to protect itself against UV exposure by building pockets of melanin around affected areas.
Squalane helps mature skin to stabilize and regenerate faster and more efficiently which is why skin experts recommend introducing it topically (through skin absorption), not only to prevent further skin exhaustion, but also to restore inflamed and prematurely aged skin. In fact, studies show that squalane prevents wrinkle and fine line formation by protecting the skin cells from malfunctioning due to exposure to damaging radiation.
Squalane is a natural moisturizing, antibacterial agent that
• makes the skin flexible, soft, and silky;
• leaves no unpleasant greasy residues;
• does not clog the pores;
• has no odour; and
• provides the skin with essential compounds that support the skin’s natural oil production.
Squalane helps the skin to absorb active substances that are otherwise difficult to absorb (for example, oil-based components). This makes it a highly desirable ingredient for emulsions and skin protection products. It not only ensures a healthy skin tissue but also a younger and healthier appearance of the skin.