Nature’s Facelift: Squalene

February 18, 2016

Forget invasive products to tuck, tone and tighten. Nature has a skin-smoothing remedy— squalene —that has been coined as a “facelift in a bottle”.

In an age of injectables and overnight procedures to help lift, smooth and defy the clock, there’s an ancient remedy found in nature that’s stealing the limelight for its ability to gently and naturally promote cellular growth.

Squalene, a fat-soluble anti-oxidant, which is found naturally in the skin, has also similarly been found in olives, wheat germ and even sugar cane. Shown to deactivate free radicals, which are formed by ultra-violet ray (UVA) exposure, it also has antibacterial properties and the potential to remove pesticides and heavy metals from the body, when taken internally.

If there was only one oil we could ever use in our dry skin formulas, then this oil would be it.

Although our own levels of squalene play an integral role in skin youthening, as we age our reserves can reduce significantly, impairing the skin’s natural function. Replacing it with a natural source of this skin-softening substance can produce desireable benefits, particularly for those over 40.

“It’s an ingredient that has proven itself to be an effective moisturiser and emollient agent for producing products that have a nice, spreadable texture—it also aids in the absorption of other nutrients, thus can be used to synergistically improve the effectiveness of a product,” says natural beauty expert Annmarie Gianni (

However, she says there is often confusion over the difference between squalene and squalane, the latter sourced from shark liver.

“Concern over this exploitative process has led to the use of other sources of squalene, such as olives and sugarcane,” she says. “Over the last 40 years that there has been a market for this ingredient, many of the deep sea species of sharks with high amounts of squalene have been hunted to near extinction. Not only is it not humane, it’s not sustainable.”

The squalene from olives is easily absorbed into the skin and helps dissolve sebum, while enforcing the skin’s natural lipid barrier. It’s also highly stable and has a long shelf life, making it an attractive ingredient for formulators, retailers and consumers alike.

olive oil

Skincare specialist, educator and chemist Samantha Miller (, who suffered from psoriasis for most of her life, sings the praises of the olive-derived ingredient that she uses regularly on herself and with clients.

“If there was only one oil we could ever use in our dry skin formulas, then this oil would be it,” she says. “I like to combine it with evening primrose oil because squalene is low in linoleic acid and combining it with this gives it an added boost. This combination leaves the skin hydrated, radiant and positively youthful.”

According to Miller, the most notable characteristic of the ingredient is its ability to “rapidly penetrate the skin’s tissuges at an average rate of three milimetres per second”.

She says other benefits of using olive squalene in a daily skincare routine include:

  • As an antioxidant, it is highly stable against oxidation and can help prevent age spots
  • May heals chapped and cracked skin
  • It has natural antibacterial properties
  • Helps prevent damage from ultraviolet rays
  • Helps skin retain its natural oils
  • Speeds the healing of the skin and promotes cell growth
  • Helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles
  • Relieves dehydrated and ultra-sensitive, skin
  • Softens rough-textured skin, leaving no oily residue
  • Helpful in counteracting eczema, psoriasis, and post-operative skin
  • Helps to boost cellular regeneration and oxygenation


  • Blend essential oils, such as lavender, with olive squalene to boost the antioxidant properties and to help de-stress at the end of a busy day.
  • Make your own anti-ageing facial serum with 5mls each of rosehip and macadamia oils, 10ml olive squalene and 4 drops of geranium essential oil.
  • Because it absorbs rapidly, use regularly as a hand moisturiser and cuticle conditioner.
  • After cleansing and toning, apply squalene over face and neck. This works as an excellent primer, helping make-up to glide on.
  • Beyond skin, squalene can also be applied to the hair as an intensively hydrating conditioner.
  • Apply to dry elbows, knees and cracked heels to heal and hydrate.


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