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Is Squalane Vegan? How To Tell If This Popular Ingredient Is Shark-Derived

by Suzana Rose

Oct 29, 2021

Squalane has become a popular ingredient used in skincare and some makeup products as well. A vegan reader asked us whether or not she should worry about this ingredient. Is squalane vegan? In short, probably not--although it depends. If you see this ingredient on a label, always ask the brand for more information. Some companies state the source of their squalane on their website if it's plant-derived.

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Crystal asks:

I read that Cover FX was cruelty-free and vegan. However I was going to buy some sunscreen from Sephora and noticed one of the main ingredients is Squalene (from shark liver). I noticed on your site they commented they were vegan, not sure if this had recently changed?

Hey Crystal,

Cover FX is still cruelty-free and their formulations are 100% vegan.

You mentioned that the product contains Squalene, which comes from shark liver. I found that a few products from Cover FX contain an ingredient called Squalane. Let's look into it.

Here are the ingredients for their Natural Finish Oil Free Foundation:


From what I've found, Squalane and Squalene are similar ingredients, as one comes from the other. They're both found in cosmetics because of their emollient properties and for their skin benefits. According to Paula's Choice, Squalene has antioxidant properties and helps repair the skin.


Squalene was originally derived from shark liver, like you mention. But it's also found in both plants and animals, and this includes humans. Squalene is found naturally in our sebum and its purpose is to lubricate the skin. It's also interesting that in new borns, 12% of the skin's surface is made from Squalene.

Squalene was obtained by hunting sharks and extracting the oil from their liver. Because this almost led to their extinction, more humane and sustainable ways of sourcing this ingredient can now be found.

Today, a lot of Squalene is derived from plants. Vegan sources where Squalene can be derived from include olives, sugarcane, rice bran, wheat germ, and palm trees. From what I've read, olives are the most common source.


Squalane is hydrogenated Squalene. This is the version you'll find listed in cosmetics ingredients, since it's more stable than Squalene.

So, Is Squalane Vegan?

Even though many companies choose plant-derived Squalane today, there's still a chance for it to be animal-derived. Unfortunately, shark Squalene is cheaper than other alternatives, which means that it's still an attractive option for some companies. Some reports even claim that shark-derived squalane is still widely-used today and is a major problem.

If the company in question specifically claims that their ingredients are 100% vegan, like in the case of Cover FX, then it's safe to say that their squalane is plant-based. Some companies also specifically state that their Squalane is derived from olives, like it's the case for Indie Lee or Garden Of Wisdom.

If it's not clear, always contact the company and ask them directly.

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+ Show Comments (2) - Hide Comments (2)
  • I adore squalene says:

    Then there’s also my favorite source of squalene… I wouldnt dream of being cruel to any kitty that provides squalene 🙂

  • Betty Mitchell says:

    I am for cruelty free. Everything has life before it dies . There is a right way and a wrong way to harvest food. We make nothing unless we use what God has provided to us. God gave us a beautiful place to live. We need to respect His creation and be good stewards of all things The God of Bible is in authority.

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