Press | A Must Have Star Ingredient

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Don’t Buy A Winter Moisturiser Without This Star Ingredient...

This article was written by Jacqueline Kilikita  for Refinery29 and does not belong to WOW facial®. Read the original article on

When it comes to skincare, there are so many ingredients touted as "must-haves" and "game-changers", you'd be forgiven for finding it difficult to work out exactly which ones (if any) are worth your hard-earned money.

This year alone, we were introduced to succinic acid (great for breakouts and oily skin), epidermal growth factors (championed by top London facialists as the next big thing in pro-ageing) and phytoretinol (a plant-based version of retinol that's kinder on skin). But with temperatures plummeting and the central heating on high, nothing has made waves in skin expert circles quite like the ingredient squalane. On TikTok alone, the hashtag #squalane has an enormous 9.1million views, with skincare enthusiasts and dermatologists alike obsessed. So what is it and how can it give you better skin?

What is squalane and where does it come from?

Commonly, squalane was derived from shark liver oil, but in a bid to be more ethical, a vast majority of squalane used by beauty brands in skincare is now derived from plants. Chris Luckham, trained beauty therapist and head of education at FOREO says it typically comes from olives, but it can also be synthesised in a lab. "Squalane feels like an oil but it will not clog your pores," he says.
Without sounding like a biology lesson, squalane (with an a) is a more stable form of an ingredient called squalene (with an e), the latter of which is found naturally in our own sebum [or oil], says Claire Williams, skincare expert and founder of WOW Facial. "Sebum is made up from fats, fatty acids, ceramides and squalene," explains Claire. Put simply, the squalane in beauty products is a more effective version, which is why it is used in skincare. "Squalane thus helps restore and preserve the healthy skin barrier for all skin types," adds Chris.

What are the skincare benefits of squalane?

Squalane acts as an 'emollient', says Chris, so it helps retain moisture inside of our skin. "All skin types need emollients to nourish and keep in moisture," he explains. Squalane's moisture-trapping credentials are what makes it a great ingredient for dry skin, adds Claire. Though it feels very similar to an oil, which is typically known to block up pores and make the skin greasy, Claire mentions that it is non-comedogenic, which means it's less likely to clog the skin and result in spots. "It is very light in texture, making it more wearable for oily and congested skin types," says Claire. That's not all, though. "It's also anti-inflammatory, so it's excellent for oily and acne-prone skin."

With that in mind, Claire says that squalane is a perfect skincare ingredient to use in the winter. "Squalane forms a breathable barrier on the skin that can reduce water loss and maintain the skin's moisture levels. The ingredient protects from excessive heat from central heating and extreme cold, too." You can expect an overall improved skin barrier (healthy, soft, soothed skin), says Claire, and because it keeps skin hydrated, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles may be minimised.

What are the best skincare products with squalane?

"Squalane works well as a base for many skincare products as it combines well with active ingredients such as retinol, vitamin C, vitamin E or acids such as glycolic and lactic acid," says Claire.

The Ordinary is a popular brand which mixes potent ingredients with moisturising squalane, for example, The Ordinary Retinol Serum 1% in Squalane, £5.85, and the brand new Salicylic Acid 2% Anhydrous Solution, £5.20. "The addition of squalane to these ingredients can reduce irritation and improve the outcomes for your skin by reducing inflammation and slowing down the penetration of these actives," explains Claire. In other words, squalane acts as a cushion on the skin, so that you're less likely to feel sensitivity, which can be common with some of the above-mentioned ingredients.

If you're not keen on using strong skincare ingredients but still want to give squalane a go, so many beauty brands are incorporating the moisture-trapping ingredient into soothing moisturisers, which are perfect for winter-ravaged skin (but can be used all year round, too). Try the Biossance Squalane & Omega Repair, £45, which combines squalane with moisturising glycerin and shea butter for those with very dry skin. If your skin type is oily or acne-prone, you might like the Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream, £25, which is lightweight in texture and melts into the skin quickly, leaving behind a nice glow. For combination types, it has to be the Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream, £28. It makes skin feel silky and moisturised all day and it sits beautifully under makeup.
If you're after something with SPF (a must, even when it's cloudy) Claire recommends Intradermology's Synergy, £49. "It's the perfect SPF 50, as it's easy to wear and has a pollutant filter, as well as a blue light and a thermal filter. It's great for both the winter and summer." Alongside squalane, the sunscreen boasts vitamin C to shield skin from dulling pollution. "The squalane makes it highly moisturising and easy to wear. It's a good all rounder."

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