Squalene vs. Squalane
What is the difference between squalene and squalane
Squalene and squalane, did you catch the difference? Only one single letter makes a huge difference about what type of product you are consuming. You may already be familiar with squalAne, it has become a hot product in the skincare industry and that is for a good reason. But do you know what it actually is? Where it comes from? How it’s produced? Those are all good questions and the best of all questions is: what is squalene?
Important Notice: In order to fully understand this article, please pay very close attention to whether we are saying squalEne or squalAne.
Squalene is not Squalene
Before we go any further, let’s break down what squalene and squalane is.
“Squalene is a natural 30-carbon organic compound originally obtained for commercial purposes primarily from shark liver oil, although plant sources are now used as well, including amaranth seed, rice bran, wheat germ, and olives.” - Wikipedia.
“Squalane is a hydrocarbon derived by hydrogenation of squalene. In contrast to squalene, due to the complete saturation of squalane, it is not subject to auto-oxidation.” - Wikipedia.
When reading this, there are two key points to pay attention to:
Squalene is a natural organic compound.
Squalane is a hydrocarbon derived by hydrogenation.
Why is the skincare industry in love with squalane?
There are a lot of reasons why the skincare industry loves squalane and they are all really good. Well, let’s say they are a million times better than the previous source of squalene - sharks. Yes, sharks! Even today, millions of sharks are being killed for squalene every single year. Corporations have found loopholes and are not required to state on their labels where their squalene is coming from.
Luckily, there are companies that are not evil and decided not to use shark derived squalene. Squalene has a long list of benefits, which we will mention in a moment, and one major downside - pure squalene is not stable and will go rancid quickly.
Skincare companies wouldn’t be able to use pure squalene as a single product because consumers would complain about the short shelf life. In order to solve this issue squalane was developed.
What they are not telling you about squalane
Squalane is derived by hydrogenation of squalene. The upside of hydrogenation is that it increases the shelf life but the downside is that it turns it into a trans fat. Do you remember what trans fats are? Yes, trans fats are those foods that everyone is telling us to stay away like the fast food french fries and burgers. Hydrogenated oils or trans fats have a series of negative health implications.
If you read about squalane products, many of them will tell you that they go quickly through your skin, which also means it goes into your blood system. This means, that squalane, a trans fat, goes into your blood system.
Now, there are no studies, or at least we couldn’t find any, that looked into the health effects of applying trans fat on your skin. It will be up to you to make the decision whether or not to use this oil.
Where does squalane come from?
By now, we have a pretty good understand what squalane is and how it’s made. But let’s look into the production and origin a little bit closer.
Squalane is derived by hydrogenation of squalene. But where does the squalene come from? As already mentioned, unfortunately, current sources of squalene are derived from sharks, deep-sea sharks, and millions of them are currently being killed for it every year.
The squalane you buy from most of the brands are often times stating that it’s plant derived! That’s awesome! In fact, the two most common sources for plant-derived squalane comes from sugarcane and olives.
Sugarcane derived squalane
It is almost a mystery how to really learn and understand how squalane is produced from sugarcane. It requires many multiple steps of processing and leaves you thinking how at the end of all of this processing, can this squalane even be healthy for your skin? And by the way, while sugarcane is a renewable source for squalane and doesn’t kill sharks, did you know that the cultivation for cane sugar is responsible for a large loss of biodiversity?
A 2004 report by WWF, titled “Sugar and the Environment,” shows that sugar may be responsible for more biodiversity loss than any other crop, due to its destruction of habitat to make way for plantations, its intensive use of water for irrigation, its heavy use of agricultural chemicals, and the polluted wastewater that is routinely discharged in the sugar production process.
Knowing this, is cane sugar then really a great alternative for shark derived squalene?
Olive oil derived squalane
Unlike sugarcane, olives already have naturally squalene in them. In fact, olive oil has up to 0.8% squalene. It is known that the mediterranean diet has been so health due to the high consumption of olive oil, and is believe that the squalene inside the olive oil played a large role in it. Squalane can only be obtained from commercially produced olive oil, in which many case is already rancid and goes through many chemical processes. The by-product of it, is further processed to produce squalene and then it’s hydrogenated to squalane. You may believe that your single ingredient squalane derived from olives comes from beautifully, tasty, fresh, and organic olives, but unfortunately that’s not the case. It comes from the olive oil by-product through a series of processes.
What is the solution and an alternative/renewable source for squalane and squalene?
We believe that amaranth oil is the solution and we have a very long list of reasons why we think that all of the squalane will be substituted by 100% pure, organic, cold-pressed amaranth oil.
Check out our youtube video explaining what amaranth oil is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xutHXXUV1k0&t=37s
How is our amaranth oil produced compared to other squalane sources?
Very simple. We take organic amaranth grain, cold-press it, which is a mechanical process, and end up with amaranth oil. We do not add anything else to our amaranth oil. It’s 100% pure, organic, cold-pressed amaranth oil. If you want to learn more about the quality of our amaranth oil, please read our article: Busting The Myths: Buying High Quality Amaranth Oil.
How is amaranth oil different or similar to squalene or squalane?
Amaranth oil has the highest plant-based source of squalene. Remember, squalane is produced through squalene. Amaranth oil does not have squalane, it already has naturally squalene in there. It’s important to understand that the squalene is not being added to amaranth oil. Think of orange juice, it has vitamin c, right? The same is true for amaranth oil, it has squalene.
How much squalene does amaranth oil have?
Amaranth oil has large amounts of squalene. Amaranth oil has up to 8% squalene. Olive oil is the second highest plant-based source with up to 0.8%. That means that amaranth oil has ten times more squalene than olive oil.
Why should I chose amaranth oil over other pure squalane sources?
To summarize the above information, here are a few key reasons why pure plant-based sources of squalana may not be the best solution as a substitute for shark derived squalane:
Pure plant-based squalane derived from sugarcane is highly processed.
Sugarcane squalane damages the environment due to the cultivation of sugarcane.
Olive oil squalane is also highly processed.
Squalane is a hydrogenated oil, do you want to put this on your skin that goes it your bloodstream?
And here are the key reasons how amaranth oil is a better substitute:
Amaranth oil contains naturally high amounts of squalene, up to 8%.
Using amaranth oil will actually allow you to consume the real squalene not squalane, which is the hydrogenated version.
Amaranth oil is not processed, only cold-pressed.
Growing amaranth is highly sustainable, requires very little water, and doesn’t need any pesticides.
Amaranth oil not only provides you the beauty benefits but is also very healthy. Many people use amaranth oil for health related issues, which has shown to benefit a lot.
Since amaranth oil is cold-pressed, you are able to eat it (drink it) - it’s a food. Do you prefer to put something on your skin that you can eat?
Amaranth oil is the only real food that has high amounts of squalene.