Squalane (INCI: Squalane; IUPAC name: 2,6,10,15,19,23-hexamethyltetracosane; CAS RN 111-01-3) is a valued cosmetic ingredient due to several of its unique properties. In a pure state, it is a mobile, colorless, odorless and tasteless hydrocarbon oil with good physical and chemical stability; this is illustrated by its high boiling point of 210-215°C (at 1 torr pressure) and notable resistance to chemical oxidation, making the need for preservatives unnecessary. Squalane also naturally occurs in small amounts in the lipid layers of skin, and along with its precursor squalene, it prevents moisture loss while restoring skin’s suppleness and flexibility. The ingredient’s sensorial profile, biocompatibility with skin, robust composition and moisturizing benefits have made it a favorite with cosmetic formulators. From a technical point of view, it is readily emulsifiable, and has excellent dispersion properties and compatibility with other ingredients. It is soluble in all common cosmetic media, and can be used without limits in all types of formulations. Subject to the removal of impurities that vary in type and amount, depending on the source, it is non-toxic and a non-irritant.
Traditionally, squalane is manufactured by catalytic hydrogenation of squalene (6E,10E,14E,18E-2,6,10,15,19,23-hexamethyltetracosa-2,6,10,14,18,22-hexaene), a natural triterpene hydrocarbon and one of the most important human skin cell lipids. Squalene is synthesized in the sebaceous glands, where it accounts for up to 13% of total lipids. Its concentration varies with skin site and the amount secreted, ranging from 125 mg to 475 mg per day, depending on the individual. It is also found in plants, prokaryotes, yeast and microalgae.