WTF is Squalane + Squalane Smackdown

When I first started learning about squalane, I was perplexed why anyone would pay $50 for a bottle of squalane when the ordinary makes one for under $10. It's only composed of one ingredient: squalane so why the hell would there be so many different ones at so many different price points?

But then I realized what a dumbass I was being.

Just because something is made out of the same ingredient, doesn't mean that they're the same exact thing. Let's take olive oil for instance. There are so many variables that affect the final olive oil product. Where were the olives grown? What type of olives were used? How was the oil pressed? The questions are endless and therefore the oils that are ultimately produced are endless. The same goes for squalane oil. Yes, they are all produced out of one singular ingredient: squalane, but that doesn't mean that they're all exactly the same thing. And from that, this post was born.

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What the fudge is squalane and why the fudge should we use it?
Squalane, also known as 2,6,10,15,19,23-Hexamethyltetracosane, is a saturated chain of hydrocarbons with a chemical formula of C30H62. But none of that r/iamverysmart info is really useful for this post.

So what is squalane? It's a fuckin' kick-ass oil that you need in your skincare stash. I'm not here to tell you what to do, but I'm also not not telling you to go get you some squalane.

But before we can talk about squalane with an a, we need to chat a bit about squalene with an e.

Squalene is an oil our skin naturally produces. 13% of our sebum is composed of squalene so it helps to moisturize and protect our skin (research shows that squalene in our sebum has antioxidant properties and helps protect against UV damage!) I know we often hear the word sebum in a negative way but that's excess sebum, a normal amount of sebum is healthy and beneficial to your skin!

Unfortunately, by the time we reach 30 the amount of squalene our skin naturally produces starts to decline significantly. So of course, we want to replenish that.

Initially, squalene used to be primarily sourced from shark liver oil, but most companies these days have moved onto vegetable sources-- namely olives!

And while squalene is great and all, cosmetics companies have come up with something more stable. Enter squalane with an a. Squalane with an a is the saturated form of squalene with an e and is produced by hydrogenating squalene with an e. If all that makes no sense to you, that's okay; all you need to know is that squalane with an a is more stable than squalene with an e.

That means squalane with an a has a longer shelf life and is much less prone to oxidizing. My PhD in Googling shows that sebum/ squalene oxidation is a plausible cause for acne plus therefore the stability of squalane with an a means it's less comedogenic than squalene with an e. In fact, some sources claim that squalane with an a isn't comedogenic at all (although at the end of the day, it comes down to the individual. Everyone has their own sensitivities!)

The main reason I personally love squalane is that it doesn't feel oily and has no scent whatsoever. It moisturizes and smooths skin and also helps prevent skin from losing water. According to the Indie Lee site, it also can minimize excess sebum production, tackle free radicals, protect skin from environmental stressors that lead to premature aging, stimulate blood circulation, and help promote healthy skin cell production which ultimately protects against wrinkles and age spots.

Now you can see why I said you need it in your skincare stash ๐Ÿ˜‰

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What's the best squalane oil?
Over the past couple of months I've been testing 5 different squalane oils. And I can say I genuinely enjoy all of them. All of them are lovely and all of them moisturize my skin without leaving my skin greasy. That said, I do like some of them more than others.

Determining what the best of anything is pretty hard, so instead, I broke it down into a few categories-- what's the best value? which one has the best packaging? Etc. You can find that at the end of the post after the individual reviews ๐Ÿค—

NONE OF THESE OILS ARE DERIVED FROM SHARK LIVER! The Indie Lee, Squalane, and Timeless Skincare oils are derived from olives. The Biossance oil is derived from sugarcane. And the Ordinary oil is derived from some mixture of vegetables that I can't find out on their website.

Like I said above, all of these oils have no color or scent or oily feel. All of them wear well underneath makeup and skincare. I've had a few issues with pilling but that's my fault for not letting my layers of skincare to dry down a bit.

My skin type is dehydrated and acne prone but I think people with all skin types can use squalane oil.

Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil

Price & Size: $32.00 for 30 mL ($1.06/ mL)

Available via Dermstore (currently 20% off with code "GREENBEAUTY"), Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Cult Beauty, & Beautylish

If the three bears were also skincare addicts who had an affinity for squalane oil, I like to think this is the oil that Goldilocks would pick when creeping through their house. It's not too heavy not too light, not too moisturizing not too... not moisturizing?

It's smack dab in the middle of my squalane smackdown! It works well in my daytime skincare routine and my nighttime routine.

Olivarrier Fluid Oil

Price & Size: $32-$42 for 30 mL ($1.06/ mL - $1.40/ mL)

Available via Jolse, Roserose Shop, or eBay

This was the first squalane oil I tried and the one I blame for my squalane obsession. It's also my favorite of the bunch.

It's definitely the heaviest out of them all and is one of the longest to be absorbed, but it's also the most moisturizing. When I first apply it onto my skin, I'm not greasy per se, but there is a certain amount of slip to my face. Once it is absorbed, my skin is so soft and moisturized and the few minutes of waiting was all worth it!

I don't wear it much in the daytime because I don't need to. It's quite pricey in comparison to the other oils so I save this one for my nighttime routines unless my skin is particularly dehydrated. When I do use it at night, my skin is still smooth, soft, and hydrated in the AM.

The Ordinary 100% Plant Derived Squalane

Price & Size: $7.90 for 30 mL ($0.26/ mL)

Available via The Ordinary, Beautylish, Asos, & Cult Beauty

After the Ordinary came out with their squalane oil, I think squalane finally started to receive the attention it deserved. So thank you to the Ordinary!

I've heard many people say this is a dupe to the Indie Lee and I agree... to some extent. I think this oil feels a bit heavier than the Indie Lee and also takes a bit more time to be absorbed. Buuut I think it's almost as moisturizing as the Indie Lee.

I'm lowkey annoyed that the packaging got so gross with the label peeling but at the end of the day, it isn't a deal breaker for me.

If you're on a budget, have dehydrated/ dry skin, and are looking to add squalane oil to your routine, this is a fab choice.

Biossance 100% Squalane Oil

Price & Size: $58.00 for 100 mL ($0.58/ mL)

Available via Sephora & Biossance

Instead of impulsively purchasing the full size of this oil for the sake of testing (#bloggerproblems) I took advantage of Biossance's free sample offer! If you go on their site, you can get two 4 mL samples of their best-sellers-- this squalane oil and a squalane + vitamin c rose oil. All you have to do is pay for shipping (I believe it was $5.)

I'm glad I purchased the samples instead of the full size because this was my least favorite out of the bunch.

As someone who has spent many years hating oils and found them all to be greasy and gross and the devil incarnate, I can't believe I am making the following statement: this was too lightweight and not moisturizing enough for me.

Mere seconds after I apply this oil, my skin gobbles it up. Sure my skin is soft as hell immediately afterward but fast forward a few hours and it starts getting dry again.

All that said, I don't think this is a bad oil. I like it... but it isn't the squalane oil for me. In fact, if you have normal or oily skin this could be a wonderful fit because it is so lightweight and fast-absorbing!

Timeless Skincare Squalane Oil 100% Pure Serum

Price & Size: $8.95 for 30 mL ($0.29/ mL) or $13.95 for 60 mL ($0.23/ mL)

Available via Timeless Skincare & Amazon

Like the Biossance oil, this one is also very lightweight. But I do find it more moisturizing than the Biossance.

I was okay wearing this at night during the summer, but as the days get drier it isn't enough for my skin at night. When I wake up in the morning my skin isn't dry, but it also isn't soft and well-hydrated.

If you have oilier skin and are on a budget, I would recommend the Timeless squalane over the Ordinary one.


Best value? Either The Ordinary or Timeless Skincare. On one hand, The Ordinary has a lower price tag but you have to pay for shipping. The larger bottle of the Timeless Skincare has the best $/ mL plus if you live in the US, you get free shipping. It's also available on Amazon Prime ๐Ÿ‘Œ

Most lightweight? Hmmm, this is a toughie. I would say the most lightweight is the Biossance one with the Timeless one coming in at a close second.

Most moisturizing? The Olivarrier!

Best packaging? All of them come packaged with dropper bottles except for the Biossance which comes with a pump. I've only tried it in the stores but it seems to be perfectly functional. While the droppers work fine, I gotta say a pump is almost always preferable.

Cruelty-free? I'm not a cruelty-free expert but I believe all of these are cruelty-free brands! Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong ๐Ÿ˜Š

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