Squalane: Sebum Lipid

What is Squalene? 

Squalene is a naturally occurring compound found in various sources, including human sebum, shark liver oil, olive oil, and amaranth seed. It is a triterpene hydrocarbon that plays a crucial role in the synthesis of steroids and vitamins in organisms.  

Squalene itself is relatively unstable, as it contains multiple double-bonded carbon groups that serve as loci for chemical reactions and functional group modification. Instead, we utilize a hydrogenated, stable form of Squalene known as Squalane. This hydrocarbon no longer contains the many double-bonded carbon groups but retains the oily, emollient nature of the original Squalene molecule.  

Role of Squalene in Skin Care 

The decrease in squalene-sebum production with age is known as the leading cause of age-induced skin moisture loss. Squalane mimics the natural sebum of the skin to counteract physical markers of skin aging such as fine lines. Squalane acts to prevent Trans Epidermal Water Loss by acting as an occlusive barrier that separates the stratum corneum (SC) from the surrounding environment, decreasing SC permeability to water 

Human sebum naturally contains 13% squalene thus giving it a natural affinity to the skin. In addition to the moisturizing effect of Squalane, it is also detoxifying and an antioxidant. Sunlight is known to initiate peroxidation in the skin causing damage to its outer layers. Squalane protects skin from UV exposure and other oxidative stressors.  


  1. Sparr, E., Millecamps, D., Isoir, M., Burnier, V., Larsson, Å., & Cabane, B. (2012). Controlling the hydration of the skin though the application of occluding barrier creams. Journal of the Royal Society, Interface10(80), 20120788. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2012.0788. 
  2. Kim, Se-Kwon, and Fatih Karadeniz. “Biological importance and applications of squalene and Squalane.” Marine Medicinal Foods - Implications and Applications - Animals and Microbes, 2012, pp. 223–233, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780124160033000147.