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Holly Pevzner
Contributing Writer

The Clean New Ingredient in Baby Skin Care

Learn more about squalane: a moisturizer based on biology.

If you’re a skin care fanatic, you may already know about squalane—or you’ve at least seen the word on the labels of serums and night creams. But now this popular beauty ingredient is popping up in baby care products as well. No, it’s not because baby needs help with fine lines and wrinkles; it’s because this naturally-derived substance is basically designed to moisturize and protect. Read on to learn exactly what this key ingredient is, where it comes from, and why it’s great for baby’s skin.

Squalane: What is it?

Squalane is the shelf-stable version of squalene, a fatty compound produced naturally by our sebaceous glands. In fact, our own sebum contains about 13 percent of the stuff. (So squalane, with an -ane, is what’s in the products and squalene with an -ene is what our body produces. We know, confusing!) “Both help to create a protective coating on top of the outer layer of skin, keeping the barrier intact and highly moisturized,” says Jeannette Jakus MD, dermatologist, pediatrician and director of clinical research in dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York. According to a 2016 report, squalane is not only useful for treating skin disorders such as eczema, but it’s also an antibacterial, doesn’t clog pores, and is safe for sensitive skin.

Where does it come from?

Just like humans naturally produce squalene—so do sharks. While some beauty companies actually convert said shark liver oil into squalane for use in their products, it’s obviously not a very eco-friendly option. ( Millions of endangered sharks are killed each year just for their oil.) Instead, consumers should seek out squalane products derived from plants. Right now, much of the squalane in skin care products sold in the US comes from olives, but due to crop variability and impurities in the refining process, this type of squalane can be unpredictable. That’s why Pipette set out to find an even more sustainable alternative for their baby skin care line: sugarcane-derived squalane. It’s a renewable resource, environmentally friendly and exceptionally stable. (In fact, all of Pipette’s products are EWG verified, meaning they contain zero “chemicals of concern.” On top of that, the company has prohibited over 2,000 potentially harmful ingredients from their formulas.)

Why is it especially good for baby’s skin?

You know that creamy coating over the skin that many babies are born with? It’s called vernix caseosa, aka nature’s way of protecting and hydrating a newborn’s delicate skin. Incidentally, vernix is full of, you guessed it, squalene. “When squalane is added to a topical moisturizer, it enhances the skin barrier to maintain hydration similar to vernix,” says Dr. Jakus. Since baby’s skin is still developing after birth, it can be prone to redness, peeling and irritation—all the more reason to keep it moisturized long after that initial vernix has worn off. And, big plus, unlike many hydrating ingredients, squalane achieves this without an oily feel, so you won’t have a slippery newborn to try and dress post-moisturizing session.

  1. Pipette Baby Lotion, $10; 2. Baby Balm, $13; 3. Baby Oil, $10; 4. Baby Shampoo + Wash, $12; all available at pipettebaby.com

How can you use it?

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends bathing baby with a mild fragrance-free cleanser two to three times a week during the first year. Too frequent bathing or using a soap that strips away natural oils can dry out the skin. To prevent this, Pipette Baby Shampoo + Wash uses squalane and other skin-friendly ingredients to keep the moisture barrier intact. In addition to using the right cleanser, it’s also best to moisturize right after a bath, when warm, damp skin is in maximum absorption mode. This is when squalane-containing products, like Pipette Baby Balm or Baby Lotion do the most heavy lifting. For an extra hydration boost (not to mention a calming bedtime routine), try giving baby a soothing massage with Pipette Baby Oil. Need extra incentive to moisturize regularly (as if snuggling a super-soft baby wasn’t enough)? Know that keeping skin hydrated during the early months may actually help prevent eczema—a win-win for you and baby.

This article is sponsored by Pipette. Shop clean skin care for mom and baby at pipettebaby.com.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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