Dr. Rosmy Barrios 30 May 2023

When it comes to skincare, it is easy to find yourself overwhelmed by a multitude of products promising youthful, radiant skin. Among the many options available, certain ingredients have gained significant attention in recent years, and hyaluronic acid is one of them.

These skincare ingredients have become staples in the beauty industry due to their remarkable benefits and versatility. However, new treatments, such as squalane, are emerging.

Understanding the key differences and unique qualities of squalane and hyaluronic acid may be essential for making informed choices about your skincare regimen.


In this comprehensive guide, we discuss squalane and hyaluronic acid, exploring their origins, properties, and the remarkable benefits they offer for your skin. Whether you are seeking deep hydration, anti-aging effects, or a skincare routine tailored to your specific needs, this article will equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions and unlock the secrets of these skincare titans.

In this article, we aim to demystify squalane and hyaluronic acid, shedding light on their distinct mechanisms, potential side effects, and practical tips for incorporating them into your daily skincare routine. Get ready to discover the transformative power of these ingredients and unlock the secrets to achieving healthy, glowing skin.

What is Squalane?

Squalane is a highly stable and non-comedogenic oil derived from squalene, a natural lipid found in human skin and certain plant sources. It is known for its exceptional moisturizing properties, antioxidant benefits, and ability to improve skin texture and elasticity. With its lightweight texture and compatibility with various skin types, squalane deeply hydrates the skin, protects against environmental damage, and promotes a healthy, radiant complexion.

What is Hyaluronic acid?

In the human body, hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance vital for maintaining skin hydration and lubrication. It is a glycosaminoglycan, a type of molecule that has a large water-holding capacity, making it highly effective in retaining moisture. In skincare, hyaluronic acid is derived from plant or synthetic sources and used for its exceptional hydrating properties. It can attract and bind moisture to the skin, resulting in improved skin plumpness, smoothness, and suppleness. Hyaluronic acid is a popular ingredient in many skincare products that provide intense hydration and anti-aging benefits due to its renowned versatility and compatibility with all skin types.

How does squalane compare to hyaluronic acid?

Squalane and hyaluronic acid are both popular skincare ingredients that offer unique benefits for the skin. However, the following are a few differences between the two:

1. Moisturizing Mechanism

Squalane is an oil-based ingredient that works as an emollient, providing deep hydration and moisture retention to the skin. The protective barrier it creates on the skin's surface prevents the loss of moisture and keeps the skin hydrated and supple. On the other hand, hyaluronic acid is a water-binding molecule that attracts and holds water in the skin, acting as a humectant. It draws moisture from the environment or deeper layers of the skin and delivers it to the surface, effectively hydrating and plumping the skin.

2. Skin Penetration

Compared to hyaluronic acid, squalane has a smaller molecular size, allowing it to penetrate the skin more effectively. It can reach deeper layers, providing long-lasting hydration and delivering other beneficial ingredients along with it. Hyaluronic acid, with its larger molecule size, primarily works on the surface of the skin, attracting and retaining moisture in the outer layers.

3. Texture and Application

Squalane is a lightweight oil that absorbs quickly into the skin and virtually leaves no trace behind. Since it does not clog pores, it suits all skin types, including acne-prone and oily skin. On the other hand, hyaluronic acid is typically available in the form of serums, gels, or creams, and it has a watery or gel-like consistency. It is easily spreadable and quickly absorbed into the skin, providing a weightless and non-greasy feel.

4. Benefits

Squalane offers deep hydration, helps to improve skin texture, and provides antioxidant protection. It is a common component in anti-aging skincare products because, in addition to regulating sebum production, it also reduces wrinkles and fine lines. The exceptional water-binding capacity of hyaluronic acid provides intense hydration and plumps the skin, helping to lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also improves skin elasticity and creates a smoother complexion.

While both squalane and hyaluronic acid offer hydration benefits, their mechanisms, textures, and penetration levels differ. Incorporating both ingredients into a skincare routine can provide a comprehensive approach to achieving optimal hydration and overall skin health.

Risks and Side Effects of Squalane and Hyaluronic Acid

Squalane is generally considered safe for topical use and is well-tolerated by most individuals. It has a low potential for causing adverse reactions or side effects. However, as with any skincare product, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Allergic Reactions: While rare, some individuals may be allergic to squalane. It is always advisable to perform a patch test before using squalane on a larger area of the skin, especially if you have a history of allergies or sensitivities. Consult a healthcare provider and stop using the product if you suffer any allergic reaction symptoms, including redness, itching, swelling, or rash.
  • Contamination: To reduce the possibility of contamination, make sure you are using high-quality squalane from reliable sources. Contaminated or impure squalane may potentially cause skin irritation or other adverse effects.
  • Individual Sensitivities: While squalane is considered non-comedogenic, meaning it is unlikely to clog pores, everyone's skin is unique. Some individuals may still experience clogged pores or breakouts when using squalane. If you notice any negative skin reactions, discontinue use and consult a dermatologist.

Hyaluronic acid rarely causes significant adverse effects or allergic responses because the body naturally produces it. However, stay away from using hyaluronic acid in the below-mentioned circumstances:

  • Allergy: When utilizing hyaluronic acid, those with a history of life-threatening allergic responses like anaphylaxis should proceed with caution.
  • Pregnancy: You may want to refrain from taking hyaluronic acid supplements during pregnancy and while nursing because its effects during these times are still unknown.
  • Breastfeeding: There is a lack of sufficient research to determine if hyaluronic acid use is safe during breastfeeding. It is still being studied if hyaluronic acid is excreted in breast milk and the impact it can have on a baby. Hence, avoiding the use of hyaluronic acid during breastfeeding is a safe bet.
  • Scleroderma or hardening of the skin and connective tissue: Scleroderma patients run the risk of worsening their skin ulcers if they apply hyaluronic acid to their skin. Therefore, the use of hyaluronic acid on the skin should be avoided if you have scleroderma.
  • Radiation therapy: While undergoing radiation therapy, applying hyaluronic acid to the skin may raise the risk of certain skin problems. Hence, it is advisable to avoid it if you are undergoing radiation therapy.

The Bottom Line

Both squalane and hyaluronic acid are exceptional skincare ingredients that offer unique benefits. So, whether you are seeking intense hydration, anti-aging effects, or a balanced complexion, incorporating squalane, hyaluronic acid, or both into your regimen can help you achieve healthier, more radiant skin.

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About the Author:
Dr. Rosmy Barrios is an aesthetic medicine specialist with international work experience. She earned her physician diploma at the Universidad Del Norte’s School of Medicine in Barranquilla, Colombia, and her specialty at John F. Kennedy University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dr. Barrios is a member of Pan-American Aesthetic Medicine Association (PASAM) and the Union Internationale de Medecine Esthetique (UIME). She is an expert health writer with keen interests in aesthetic medicine, regenerative aesthetics, anti-aging, fitness, and nutrition. Currently, Dr. Barrios heads the Regenerative Aesthetics department at a renowned Internal Medicine clinic based in Belgrade, Serbia.


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