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What is Squalene?

Cosmetics/Personal Care Products Apply for Shark Free Certification

“Many Companies currently strive to avoid animal based ingredients in their products.  In this modern age of product development, there are many opportunities to choose synthetic or botanically derived alternatives. Squalene is no exception.

It’s not necessary to encourage harvesting from a potentially endangered population by providing a commercial benefit to the activity, especially since there are several viable alternatives available”

Ken Marenus, Ph.D., a forty year veteran of the industry.

President and CEO of the Independent Beauty Association

and former President of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.



Shark squalene/squalane is an oil that is derived from the shark’s liver and is used in cosmetic products ranging from anti-aging creams, lotions, deodorants, hair conditioners, eye shadows, lipstick, lip balms, sunscreen, and cleansers. 

It takes 3000 sharks to produce a ton of squalene (1). More than 60 shark species are fished for their liver oil, many of which are listed on the IUCN Red List as vulnerable to extinction (2)

90% of shark squalene worldwide is sold to the cosmetics industry (3).

The excessive targeting of endangered, 450-million-year-old super predators has caused dramatic population declines of certain species that live over 3000 feet below sea level, greatly impacting their future survival. In fact, many scientists have concluded they should not be caught at all.

Shark-based squalene has a readily available substitute on the market that comes from a vegetable origin – olives – which is known to be of better quality than shark-based squalene. Synthetic squalene can also be produced from sugarcane. Squalene is also found in amaranth seeds, rice bran, wheat germ, fungi, and date palm. Plant based squalene suppliers can provide the quantity and quality the cosmetic and personal care industry needs as well as a more stable supply chain than sharks. 

Squalene and squalane can both come from sharks or a vegetable or synthetic source. Squalane is the hydrogenated form of squalene.. Because squalane is less susceptible to oxidation, odorless and has a longer efficacy, it is more commonly used in personal care products than squalene.

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Shark Free Coalition

Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation
4100 Yonge St. Suite 416
Toronto ON
Canada  M2P 2B5