Squalene is a naturally-occurring biological compound found in humans, plants and the livers of deep-sea sharks. Squalene consists of a chain of organic lipids which compose a small percentage (approximately 10-percent) of our own body’s sebum.
Like sebum, an oily substance secreted by our skin cells, squalene has two primary uses for skin: to provide a protective barrier for our against toxins in our environment, and to prevent skin from losing too much moisture. Sometime within a person’s mid-20s, sebum production begins to slow, resulting in a decline of skin’s hydrated, healthy appearance.
Because squalene is quickly absorbed and acts similar to our skin’s natural oils, it is often hailed by cosmetic companies as an added defense against signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. While many experts allege that over-the-counter remedies designed to obliterate wrinkles actually do nothing but cost money, squalene is typically found in a wide-variety of available brands of lotion, hand cream, lipstick and sunblock. Aside from being an effective ingredient for smoothing and softening skin, many products containing squalene are generally not too pricey.
Squalene vs. Squalane
Two kinds of squalene exist in the market today. One is taken from the livers of sharks. The other is of a similar chemical structure and is found naturally in certain plants like wheat germ, olives and rice bran. The latter, squalane, differentiates itself by one letter. Most squalane, which is plant-derived, comes from olives. Many people seek squalane as opposed to varieties extracted from the livers of sharks, as many believe this is an inhumane practice.
According to beautyhuile.blogspot.com, “Today’s more commonly used squalane is plant-derived as opposed to the animal-derived (shark liver oil) of years ago. Produced from olives, the valuable lipid is extremely compatible with the skin and is safe for all skin types.”
The article concludes: “…Squalene may be comedogenic and not suitable for acne skins.”
More About Squalene
In recent years, medical researchers have begun using squalene as an adjuvant in an experimental vaccine for influenza. While squalene’s efficacy for evading seasonal flu outbreaks was determined to be minimal, another study conducted found the oil to be helpful in producing lupus antibodies in experimental mice.
“We have reported that a single intraperitoneal injection of the adjuvant oils pristane, IFA or squalene induces lupus-related autoantibodies to nRNP/Sm and -Su in non-autoimmune BALB/c mice. Induction of these autoantibodies appeared to be associated with the hydrocarbon’s ability to induce IL-12, IL-6, and TNF-alpha, suggesting a relationship with hydrocarbon’s adjuvanticity.” -2007 study released by the U.S. National Library of Medicine