Olive Squalene and the Skin
Olive Squalene: the Vegan Squalene mimicking the skin’s natural moisturising factor.
Squalene in the skin
Sebum is an oily secretion produced by sebacious glands, tiny ducts adjacent to hair follicles. Sebum is secreted into the follicle, from which it spreads over the hair and skin. Sebum is composed of triglycerides, free fatty acids, wax esters, squalene, diglycerides and cholesterol. It controls moisture loss from the epidermis, keeping our skin supple, and protects against fungal and bacterial infections.
Everyone (in fact, every mammal!) is born with squalene in their skin – every skin type, every age group, every ethnicity. Even the greasy covering that envelopes babies at birth (Vernix Caseosa) has around 12% squalene, along with other triglycerides and fatty acids. Squalene is the skin’s principal lipid, natural emollient, built-in moisturiser and skin antioxidant. This amount of 12% squalene in the skin actually diminishes with age – from around the mid-twenties, and can lead to skin dehydration, dryness and premature signs of ageing such as fine lines.
The Acid Mantle
Sweat is a salty, watery solution produced by sweat glands, making its way onto the skin’s surface through thousands of microscopic channels. When sebum and sweat combine – they form a film on top of the Stratum Corneum (top layer of the skin) known as the acid mantle. At Botani, we make many references to the acid mantle – or rather – the preservation and conservation of it – because it is so important to skin health.
It’s our skin’s own protective barrier – both physical and chemical that acts as the skin’s first defence mechanism to the harsh external environment. If it is disrupted (by hormonal changes, stressors and topical products), skin becomes more permeable to microorganisms (such as bacteria), harsh chemicals, and pollutants, and water escapes from skin faster too.
The acid mantle has a pH of between 4 to 5.5. A neutral pH is 7, anything above that creates an alkaline environment, and anything below creates an acidic environment. The skin is mildly acidic in order to help protect skin from harsh environmental elements (such as wind or pollutants), also to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi, as pathogenic bacteria thrive under alkaline conditions.
If the acid mantle is disrupted or loses its acidity, the skin becomes prone to damage and infection. The integrity of the acid mantle can be disturbed by harsh chemicals, detergents, soaps, astringent toners and poorly formulated products.
This is why it is really important that your skincare products are formulated without the nasty chemicals often hidden in skincare, such as SLS and petrochemicals – instead, look for formulas that are expertly crafted, botanical ingredients that are gentle on the skin.
Essential, biocompatble natural moisturising factor:
Now that we have established that squalene is a natural component of the skin, an important part of the skin’s protective layer which plays an integral part in skin protection, let’s take a closer look at how the humble olive mimics this amazing constituent found in healthy skin – (we term this group of skin identical-ingredients “essential, biocompatible NMFs” (natural moisturising factors)).
Vegan Squalene – Olive Squalene
Not only sharks have a high concentration of squalene in their body; plants like olives grown in fertile Mediterranean soils have a high amount of squalene – (which is in fact extracted from the olive pip!).
The squalene we use at Botani is 100% vegan olive squalene, sourced from the pip of the humble olive. Many commercially available squalene oils and supplements are derived from sharks, harming the animal in the process. This is something you should ALWAYS check prior to purchasing any product with squalene (or squalane).
We choose olives that are grown organically in the fertile soils of Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean. The olive pips are cold pressed and bottled in eco-friendly, amber bottles filled in our Melbourne warehouse.
How does olive squalene penetrate the skin
Olive squalene is a plant active with a molecular structure that resembles human skin – allowing it to penetrate the dermis and synthesize quickly (2mm per second) – not clogging pores or leaving a greasy residue behind.
The layers of the skin
Epidermis “Epi” is a Greek term is used as a prefix meaning upon or above – so the epi-dermis is the layer that’s above the dermis. This is where you touch your face, and apply topical products. The outermost layer, called the stratum corneum, is made up of thousands of tiny, dead skin cells (which shed, and get replaced in a cyclical manner – approx. every 28 days).
Dermis The next layer, the dermis, is where body hair, sweat, oil, nerve endings & blood vessels call home.
Hypodermis The bottom layer of skin is the hypodermis, also called the subcutaneous fat layer. It is the innermost and thickest layer of the skin, attaching to the dermis by collagen and elastin fibres. Its cells accumulate and store fats, acting as an energy reserve and heat insulator.
Squalene is as vital to skin as water is to life…
B Das, The Science Behind Squalene: The Human Antioxidant, Toronto Medical Publications for the International Council for Bionutrient Research, 2000
Jarne, H. Casabianca, M. Batteau, P. Goetinck and V. Salomon, 2010, Differentiation of the Origin of Squalene and Squalane Using Stable Isotopes Ratio Analysis, SOFW Journal, Vol. 136, pp. 2-8
Ohsawa K, Watanabe T, Matsukawa R, Yoshimura Y, Imaeda K. The possible role of squalene and its peroxide of the sebum in the occurrence of sunburn and protection from the damage caused by U.V. irradiation. J Toxicol Sci 1984; 9:151-9.
Biological and Pharmacological Activities of Squalene and Related Compounds: Potential Uses in Cosmetic Dermatology Zih-Rou Huang 1 , Yin-Ku Lin 2,3 and Jia-You Fang 1,*
Clinical test Ref: M00710
International Journal of Toxicology, Vol.1, No.2, 37-56 (1982)