What exactly does Squalene do for the skin?
- Protects: reducing the loss of internal water (moisturising effect)
- Powerful antioxidant: similar in its composition to Vitamin A
- Shields ultra violet rays: helping to prevent the skin from ageing.
Furthermore squalene, when exposed to water or other fluids, produces oxygen which helps skin cell regeneration. Lack of squalene production in the body can result in premature ageing and dry skin. Hence squalene is used in many cosmetics to enhance their moisturising, antioxidant, soothing and anti-ageing performance.
Squalene can also be used internally as a supplement to support the immune system and keep it healthy. It is thought that the Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetable oils, and therefore rich in squalene, could be effective at helping to prevent cancer.
Why is Squalene controversial?
In Italian ‘squalo’ means shark. At the beginning of the last century, a Japanese scientist studying the amazing immune resistance of this wonderful marine creatures found this special molecule, ‘squalene’, in their livers. It was discovered that squalene, an unsaturated hydrocarbon, releases oxygen when mixed with water. Squalene is lighter than water itself – with a specific gravity of 0.855 – and this helps the shark (which has no swim bladder) to reduce its body density underwater and improve its flotation.
A high percentage of squalene was subsequently also found in human sebum, the fat produced by our sebaceous glands to protect our skin. This natural organic compound, occurring naturally in the body, plays a vital role in the synthesis and production of sterols, both in humans and plants. In our body for example it is the starting point for the production of cholesterol, steroid hormones and Vitamin D during a complex chemical reaction in the liver.
Amazingly enough, during pregnancy, squalene is also one of the main components of the layer of fat that envelops the baby in the womb, called the vernix caseosa. This coat, a bit similar to soft cheese, protects the baby’s skin and could play an important role in some of the phases of the development of the embryo.
Many cosmetic companies use squalene from deep sea shark liver oil, however, olive oil has been proven to be one of the richest sources of vegetable squalene and just as effective as the shark-derived version. So there is no excuse for killing sharks to keep our skin young and hydrated. Another lesson from Nature who knows better.
Check out your cosmetics labels for evidence and make sure you buy from brands that only use vegetable Squalene in their formulas.