If you want to enhance your overall skin appearance and health, you might want to consider the two most-talked-about ingredients: squalane and peptides.
But which one is better for your skin? Both squalane and peptides are excellent for your skin but have different effects and functions.
Squalane is a soothing and moisturizing agent that protects the skin from irritation and dryness and supports the skin barrier. (1)
Peptides are small amino acid chains that improve skin conditions and wound healing, increase fibroblast proliferation, and boost collagen production. (2)
Both suit every skin type, including acne-prone, dry, and sensitive skin. Therefore, you can use them separately or together based on your skin type and concerns.
Continue reading to learn more about squalane and peptides for the skin.
What Are Squalane and Peptides?
Read below to know what squalene and peptides are:
What is squalane?
Squalane is a naturally found lipid (or fat) secreted by the sebaceous glands in the skin. It is the hydrogenated form of squalene. (1)(3) According to scientists, the sebaceous glands synthesize approximately 10%–12% of squalane. (4)
Squalane, in its saturated form, contains antioxidants, emollients, moisture, and UV-protective properties. It is more stable than squalene. Squalane is used to increase shelf life and bioactive molecule delivery in cosmetic products. (3)
What are peptides?
Amino acids are building blocks of proteins (5) and peptides. (6) Collagen is constructed from polypeptide chains. (7) Collagen is a large molecule; therefore, skin penetration is difficult. However, in cream form, (8) the molecules of collagen are smaller, thus allowing easy penetration when applied topically. (9)
Amino acids also make two crucial proteins for skin and hair health: elastin and keratin.
The combination of amino acids in different forms gives rise to peptide varieties, creating specific types of protein. Proteins such as elastin and collagen provide skin firmness, elasticity, and structure. Peptides are unstable in contact with air and light.
Which Is Better for Your Skin: Squalane or Peptides?
Squalane is obtained from plant sources such as sugarcane and olives (10), making it cruelty-free and vegan. Peptides are derived from both plant and animal sources. Plant-based peptides from pulses, oats, or soy (11) are cruelty-free and vegan friendly.
Squalane suits all skin types, including mature, dry, or sensitive skin. It has a nongreasy texture and absorbs fast due to its light weight. Squalane heals wounds, reduces redness, and calms inflammation. (1) It also allows the penetration of other active ingredients, such as serving as a carrier oil with retinol.
Peptides suit acne-prone, dry, and sensitive skin but can also lead to allergic reactions or irritation. Peptides improve the skin’s barrier function, moisturize the skin, prevent premature aging, shield the skin from UV damage, and exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that reduce irritation and acne. (2)
These aspects of peptides make them an interesting cosmetic ingredient. Peptides improve their stability and efficacy in combination with other ingredients, such as exfoliants, hydrators, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Both peptides and squalane are good for the skin. Your choice depends on your skin type, preferences, and goals and the product’s compatibility with the other routine products you use.
You can also use peptides and squalane together. For instance, you can apply peptide serum after cleansing and toning your skin and then apply a squalane moisturizer or oil to boost peptide absorption and hydration.
Additionally, you can use a product containing both peptides and squalane for convenience and comfort.
Squalane Versus Peptides: The Differences Based on Various Factors
The following are the differences between squalane and peptides.
Squalane is an emollient that moisturizes, softens, and smoothens the skin. It works well with other active ingredients such as retinol, supports the exterior skin barrier, and reduces inflammation. Squalane is extracted from squalene (a lipid that’s naturally produced by the skin and drops with age). (1)
Peptides are short amino acid chains that are building blocks of proteins such as elastin and collagen. (6) They enhance skin elasticity and firmness, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, stimulate skin renewal, and boost skin hydration. (2) Peptides are found in skin care products such as creams, serums, and eye gels.
Squalane is a lipid sourced from animals (such as shark livers) and plants (such as rice, olive oil, and sugar cane). (10)
Peptides are taken from animals or plants, such as milk, flaxseed, oats, soy, pulses, lentils, beans, canola, peas, chickpea, hemp seed, and wheat. (11)
3. Wound healing
According to experts, squalane oil is compatible with human skin, it absorbs quickly, and its deep penetration accelerates cell growth. Thus, it regenerates tissues, encourages wound healing, and stimulates new skin cell growth and the formation of blood vessels. (4)
A 2019 research reported that highly competent bioactive peptides are ideal for wound healing. (12) A 2020 research also reported that animal peptides effectively accelerated wound healing. (13) Thus, they help heal wounds.
Peptides are unstable and break down on exposure to air and light. Therefore, proper formulations and packaging are required to keep their efficacy.
5. Skin acne
When bacteria clog your pores, your immune system responds with pimple formation on the skin. (16) Antimicrobial peptides prevent bacteria from clogging pores.
6. Wrinkles and fine lines
A 2020 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences reported the effects of peptides on premature aging. In the study, 22 people aged 40 or above were asked to use peptides on the face and neck. The participants noticed reduced aging signs. (18) These antiaging peptides boost elastin levels, enhance the skin’s firmness, and reduce wrinkles and fine lines. (18)
7. Skin type
Squalane is safe and suits all hair types, including acne-prone and sensitive skin. (1) It is hypoallergenic and does not cause allergy due to its skin-identical nature. Experts suggest peptides suit acne-prone, dry, and sensitive skin.
How to Use Squalane and Peptides
Follow these steps to use squalane:
- Wash your face with a mild cleanser and pat it dry.
- Apply essence or toner to maintain your skin’s pH to prepare it for the oil.
- Take 3-4 drops of squalane oil in your palms. Rub your palms together.
- Apply the oil to your face and massage it in upward circular motions. Stay away from the under-eye areas.
- Let it sit for 5–10 minutes to be absorbed into your skin.
- Apply sunscreen or a moisturizer if needed.
Note: You can apply squalane oil once or twice daily based on your skin’s needs. For added perks, you can use it with other products, such as masks, creams, or serums.
Follow these steps to use a peptide serum:
- Wash your face with a mild cleanser and exfoliator.
- Apply your usual toner.
- Apply the peptide serum following label guidelines.
- Put on your moisturizer.
Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Peptides in Skin Care Products
Natural peptides are derived from plant and animal proteins.
Synthetic peptides are made in labs and mimic the nature of natural ones. They are designed to provide specific effects.
However, both natural and synthetic peptides boost collagen production.
Both peptides and squalane are beneficial skin care ingredients with different effects and functions.
Squalane is a plant-derived ingredient that mimics the skin’s natural sebum. It softens and moisturizes the skin, protecting its barrier.
Peptides consist of short chains of amino acids. They are the foundation of proteins such as elastin and collagen. They improve skin texture, elasticity, and firmness.
Together, peptides and squalane work well, as squalane enhances peptides’ efficacy and penetration. However, they are not substitutable and have pros and cons based on the skin concern and type.
Thus, choosing the right product that suits your skin is imperative.
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- R; SA. Signal peptides – promising ingredients in cosmetics. Current protein & peptide science. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34382523/.
- Mendes A, Azevedo-Silva J, Fernandes JC. From sharks to yeasts: Squalene in the development of vaccine adjuvants. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland). February 22, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8951290/.
- Aug 11 2008. Hyaluronic acid product and method for treating lacerations and wounds in a living body. Justia. https://patents.justia.com/patent/20100034879.
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- Goldbloom-Helzner L, Hao D, Wang A. Developing regenerative treatments for developmental defects, injuries, and diseases using extracellular matrix collagen-targeting peptides. MDPI. August 21, 2019. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/17/4072.
- Lubart R, Yariv I, Fixler D, Lipovsky A. A novel facial cream based on skin-penetrable fibrillar collagen microparticles. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology. May 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9122277/.
- Peptides as skin penetration enhancers for low molecular weight drugs … https://www.researchgate.net/publication/292604809
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2020-02/documents/support_document_for_squalane.pdf.
- Chakrabarti S, Guha S, Majumder K. Food-derived bioactive peptides in human health: Challenges and opportunities. Nutrients. November 12, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6265732.
- Song Y, Wu C, Zhang X, et al. A short peptide potentially promotes the healing of skin wound. Bioscience reports. March 22, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6430730/.
- Alves RS, Alves LB, Altoé LS, et al. Peptides from animal origin: A systematic review on biological sources and effects on skin wounds. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. October 23, 2020. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2020/4352761/.
- Lei J, Sun L, Huang S, et al. The antimicrobial peptides and their potential clinical applications. American journal of translational research. July 15, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6684887/.
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- Acne: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000873.htm.
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- Jeong S, Yoon S, Kim S, et al. Anti-wrinkle benefits of peptides complex stimulating skin basement membrane proteins expression. MDPI. December 20, 2019. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/21/1/73.