Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

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Mode de production squalane.

How is squalane produced?

Squalane, whether of synthetic, animal, or plant origin, possesses moisturising and emollient properties. Its biomimetic structure, similar to human sebum, allows it to be perfectly assimilated by the skin and hair. How is this active ingredient obtained, depending on its origins?


What is squalane?

With the molecular formula C30H62, squalane is a stable derivative of squalene, a lipid naturally present in our bodies. Human sebum contains approximately 15% squalene. Squalane presents itself as a colourless and odourless oil. This compound possesses moisturising properties for both skin and hair. It contributes to the restoration of the skin's hydrolipidic barrier, limiting insensible water loss.

Squalane was originally extracted from shark liver oil. Today, synthetic and plant-based alternatives exist, but animal-derived squalane continues to be marketed. The environmental impact and commercial arguments are often key factors that lead professionals to favour one source over another.

Animal-derived squalane, a cruel extraction method.

Shark liver oil is the richest source of squalane. In fact, it was in this substance that it was first isolated by a Japanese chemist at the beginning of the 20th century. To obtain animal squalane, the shark is disembowelled to remove its liver. This organ is placed on a sloping metal support and exposed to the sun so that the oil drains out. This substance is then filtered and stored.

In 2012, a study demonstrated that 3 million sharks were still being killed each year to meet the international demand for squalane.

The cosmetic industry remains the primary user of animal-derived squalane today. Even though sharks are listed on the red list of endangered species and their capture is prohibited by the European Union, they are still hunted in other parts of the world and some cosmetic products still contain animal-derived squalane.

Note: On the I.N.C.I. list of skincare ingredients, the origin of raw materials is not indicated. Thus, both plant and animal-derived squalane are both referred to under the name "SQUALANE". Ensure that the brand clearly specifies the 100% plant-based origin of the squalane used in the product in question.

At Typology, we exclude animal-derived squalane from our formulations. The squalane used in our skincare products is derived from an extraction process involving the unsaponifiable fraction of olive oil or from sugarcane.

How is plant-derived squalane obtained?

Vegetable squalane, derived from olive oil, began to be used as a replacement for animal-based squalane from the 1980s.

The vegetable squalane is derived from squalene obtained from the residues of olive oil, sugarcane, rice, wheat, sugar beet, palm oil, or amaranth. In the case of olive oil squalane, the process involves retrieving the unsaponifiable squalene using a distillation process aimed at removing the pulp from the olives that will provide the oil. The squalene is then hydrogenated into squalane. Hydrogenation involves combining a compound with a molecule of dihydrogen (H2). The entire process takes place without any solvents. Furthermore, olives are the preferred source, with a particularly low environmental impact within the framework of sustainable or organic farming, which preserves biodiversity and limits the use of irrigation.

Our nourishing serum contains 100% squalane derived from olive oil. It is particularly recommended for dry skin, for daily application in the morning and evening.

How is synthetic squalane produced?

Synthetic squalane is derived from petrochemicals. It is extracted from reserves that are not inexhaustible. Therefore, synthetic squalane is not an ecological solution. Moreover, the extraction of hydrocarbons generates significant greenhouse gas emissions.


  • ARADENIZ F. & al. Biological importance and applications of squalene and squalane. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research (2012).

  • DUCOS L. & al. Shark in our beauty creams: An exclusive study by Bloom (2015).


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