Squalane vs Hyaluronic Acid for Skin: Which is Better?

Squalane is a skincare active that acts as a protective barrier and locks moisture into your skin. Hyaluronic acid is another excellent water-binding hydrator that plumps the skin.

Both of these skincare ingredients are great at hydrating and moisturizing your skin, so which one should you use? Let’s find out in this squalane vs hyaluronic acid comparison!

Squalane vs Hyaluronic Acid: The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

The main difference between squalane and hyaluronic acid is that hyaluronic acid acts like a sponge and draws moisture to your skin, while squalane helps your skin retain moisture. So squalane and hyaluronic acid can be paired to work together to improve your skin’s hydration and moisture.

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The Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for Skin

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Hyaluronic acid (HA), also known as hyaluronan, is a sugar molecule and a humectant that draws and holds moisture (water molecules) to the outer layers of the skin’s surface. Don’t be afraid of the word acid in the name, as hyaluronic acid is NOT an exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid like glycolic acid or lactic acid.

HA is found naturally in our bodies in connective tissues and joint fluid, providing cushioning and lubrication. HA is prevalent in our skin and accounts for about 50% of the hyaluronic acid in our bodies.

Hyaluronic acid is well known for its ability to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. So HA is an excellent hydrator that helps your skin look plumper while replenishing your skin for a more radiant skin tone.

HA also helps reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles while improving skin elasticity. This means that using an HA product can help restore smoothness and bounce back into your skin.

The production of hyaluronic acid in our bodies decreases as we age, so using a topical hyaluronic acid product can help offset some of the effects of reduced HA production in our skin.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 sampled with dropper

Some benefits you may experience from using a topical hyaluronic acid product include:

  • Improved skin hydration and moisture
  • Reduced appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
  • Reduced dullness
  • Softer, smoother and plumper skin

Types of Hyaluronic Acid

Different kinds of hyaluronic acid are commonly used in skincare products, including:

  • Sodium Hyaluronate: Sodium Hyaluronate is an affordable and stable form of hyaluronic acid. It’s one of the most popular forms in skincare products because it not only acts as a good moisturizer, but its small molecular size also allows it to be readily absorbed into the skin.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer: This is a long-lasting form of HA that helps keep skin stay moisturized for an extended period of time. This is thanks to its cross-linked structure, which helps it form a film on the skin for continual delivery of moisture.
  • Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid: This is a form of HA that’s broken down into smaller molecules and has a low molecular weight. It has better penetration than regular HA, so it can help improve the appearance of skin elasticity and firmness in addition to reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

Who’s It For?

Hyaluronic acid is suitable for all skin types. It’s particularly helpful for dehydrated and dry skin due to its moisture-binding properties.

Hyaluronic acid is also a great choice for aging and mature skin, as it can help plump up the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and reduce the appearance of dull skin.

Hyaluronic acid is water-soluble, so it can be a good option for those with combination, acne-prone, and oily skin, too, since it won’t weigh your skin down like heavier oil-based actives.

NOTE: If you have a dry or sensitive skin condition, such as eczema or rosacea, ask your dermatologist for advice on which hydrator or moisturizer would be best for your skin type.

The Benefits of Squalane for Skin

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

Squalane, often called squalane oil, is a skin-replenishing saturated hydrocarbon that is an excellent moisturizer. Squalane is found naturally in our bodies as squalene with an “e,” which makes up 13% of human sebum. It is also found in shark liver oil and plant sources such as olives, sugarcane, wheat germ oil, and rice bran oil.

Squalane is a superb emollient that leaves your skin feeling soft, silky, and smooth. It has a very lightweight texture that absorbs easily into your skin without being greasy or sticky.

The production of squalene in our bodies decreases over time as we age. So topically, squalane oil can help replenish and restore moisture to our skin and prevent transepidermal water loss.

Squalane is clear, odorless, and also non-comedogenic, which means it doesn’t clog pores. It also helps to balance sebum (oil) production in the skin. So it’s an excellent choice for those who want the benefits of an oil without the heavy, greasy feel.

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane sampled with dropper

Some benefits you may experience from using squalane include:

  • Improved skin hydration and moisture
  • Improved oil balance
  • Rejuvenated, plumped skin
  • Softer and smoother skin 

Who’s It For?

Squalane is suitable for all skin types. It is a good choice for oily and acne-prone skin types because it helps to balance sebum production without clogging pores.

It is also a good choice for mature and aging skin, as it can help to plump up the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and provide a natural-looking glow to tired, dull skin.

Those with dry skin will also benefit from squalane’s ability to help restore and replenish smoothness and hydration. It can also work well for those with sensitive skin, as it is gentle on the skin and a non-irritant.

How to Use Hyaluronic Acid and Squalane Together in Your Skincare Routine

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 in hand

One way to enjoy the benefits of squalane and hyaluronic acid is to use them together in your skincare routine. By layering a hyaluronic acid serum followed by squalane, you’ll get the best of both worlds.

After cleansing and toning your skin, apply a few drops of a hyaluronic acid serum to your face and neck, like this hyaluronic acid serum from The Ordinary. Follow with any other water-based treatments or serums. (If my skin is feeling especially dry and irritated, I will supplement with a multi-tasking niacinamide serum to calm my skin and help restore my skin barrier.)

Follow with a few drops of squalane, like this lightweight 100% plant-derived squalane from The Ordinary.

If you are feeling dry, you can finish your skincare routine with a moisturizer.* Otherwise, squalane can be used in place of your moisturizer.

*Usually face oils can be applied after moisturizers to lock in moisture, but since squalane oil is so lightweight and almost has the texture of a serum, you should be able to use it before a moisturizer, depending on your skin.

Why Use Hyaluronic Acid or Squalane?

One of the best ways to moisturize dehydrated or dry skin is to apply a topical skincare product like hyaluronic acid or squalane (or better yet, BOTH!) to your skin.

Hyaluronic acid draws moisture to your skin, while squalane helps your skin retain moisture. Both are non-comedogenic, which means they won’t clog your pores, which could worsen acne or breakouts.

Squalane vs Hyaluronic Acid: Which One is Better for You?

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 flatlay

Now that you know a little bit more about these two hydrating ingredients, it’s time to discuss which one is better: squalane or hyaluronic acid? It all comes down to your unique complexion.

If your skin is dry, you may want to use a serum that contains hyaluronic acid and then follow with squalane. They will increase and lock in moisture while making your skin feel and look soft and smooth.

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you may want to try using a product that contains hyaluronic acid since every skin type needs hydration. It will draw moisture to your skin for improved hydration. You may also be able to use squalane for its moisturizing and oil balancing benefits.

Final Thoughts on Squalane vs Hyaluronic Acid

As you can see, both squalane and hyaluronic acid are beneficial for your skin when it’s dehydrated and dry, but they perform different tasks to improve hydration and moisture.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of which one is better for you, so it’s important to try a few different products and see how they affect your skin.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, here’s to your good skin health!

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