Let’s revisit why I put quotes around “new.” Squalane oil comes from something called squalene (notice the “e” in the middle versus the “a”) and this is actually as old as humans are: It’s found naturally in our skin’s barrier. “Squalene is a natural oil produced by the sebaceous glands in your skin. It plays a role in skin hydration and barrier protection,” says board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D. “But squalene is easily oxidized, which means it is not stable in cosmetic formulas. However, squalane is a cousin to squalene that can be produced in the lab from botanical sources. Squalane can give similar emollient benefits to its cousin squalene, but is more stable and responsibly produced.”
As for the last point (the responsibility produced part) this comes up because squalene oil was traditionally extracted from less-than-ethical sources. “Squalene was produced from the livers of sharks,” says Zeichner. “Because of ethical and environmental issues, it is not commonly used anymore.” And what came in its place is botanically-derived squalane—like from olive oil, rice bran, and sugar cane—that is abundant in products today.
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