It’s no secret that moisturizing is one of the best things you can do to keep your skin looking young and healthy. When your skin gets too dry, it can lead to itching, flaky skin, redness, peeling, and discomfort. 

Shanthi Colaço, M.D., FAAD, a general and cosmetic dermatologist explains, “a lot of the time, dry skin can occur when you’re in a cold or dry environment, wash your hands too often, take hot showers, or don’t hydrate enough.”

Using the right moisturizer maintains the balance in your skin, keeping it healthy and protected. But sometimes, even using your go-to moisturizer just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes, you need a little extra something to give your skin a much-needed boost. 

“Applying a few drops of facial oil over your moisturizer before going to bed can be beneficial in treating and preventing dryness. The oil creates a physical barrier over the skin that impedes dry air from drawing out the moisture in the skin,” Dr. Colaço says. 

Facial oils are a go-to for many people — in addition to combating dry skin, some oils can also reduce wrinkles, protect your skin, and can act as the perfect primer. But, what many people don’t know is that many facial oils on the market are actually harming your skin, rather than helping it. 

What makes a good facial oil? 

There are two types of oils: saturated and unsaturated. 

Unsaturated or Polyunsaturated: contain at least one double bond in their fatty acid chains and oxidize when exposed to heat and oxygen. The more the double bonds, the less stable and more reactive it becomes. 

Saturated: contain only single bonds in their fatty acid chain, making them much more stable, far less reactive, and much better for your skin. 

Many face oils fall under the unsaturated category, oxidizing on your skin and aging it. Polyunsaturated oils are involved in the production of age pigmentation. Avoid these! According to Dr. Colaço, “unsaturated or polyunsaturated oils become even more dangerous when they interact with UV radiation, causing cellular damage that directly harms your skin.”

What is squalene? 

Squalene is a polyunsaturated hydrocarbon liquid substance that is found naturally in humans, plants, and animals. It’s a natural lipid that the body produces to lubricate and protect your skin. Sadly, after the age of 30, the body produces less of it. Wanting to collect and use it later makes sense, but because squalene is a polyunsaturated oil, we want to avoid using it directly on our skin. In its natural state, it isn’t very stable. 

What is squalane? 

Squalane is the saturated and stable form of squalene. The e in squalene turns into an a when squalene is converted to squalane through a process known as hydrogenation. This makes the molecule much more stable and safe for skincare. It is derived from plants like olives, rice bran, sugar cane, or amaranth seeds. This is what we want to use on our skin! 

Why use squalane? 

Squalane…

  • is 100 percent saturated oil, which makes it more stable than even coconut oil, which is only around 85 percent saturated.
  • is an excellent moisturizer. It’s non-greasy and lightweight and it absorbs into the skin very quickly.
  • reduces fine lines and dry patches.
  • reduces UV damage and skin pigmentation. 

Who should use squalane? 

Because it has emollient properties, using squalane gives especially note-worthy benefits to people who have dry or mature skin, although it benefits all skin types (even acne-prone!). Squalane is not a common irritant or allergen so it benefits those with sensitive skin as well. Regardless, those with sensitive skin should be cautious when adding new products into a skincare routine. 

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