Peter Thomas Roth makes much ado about their Oilless Oil 100% Purified Squalane, and while squalane has its benefits as a moisturizing agent, it is not more beneficial or unique than plain canola oil when it comes to the health of your skin. This is a good, basic fragrance-free option for adding moisture to your routine and is best for normal to dry skin.
Packaged in a clear container with a dropper applicator, Peter Thomas Roth derives their squalane from sugarcane. Squalane is a hydrogenated version of squalene, the latter being the pure component found in plants and animal sources. Squalene is rather unstable, however, and thus squalane is nearly all you'll find in cosmetics (the process of hydrogenation creates the stable squalane). It's important to note that all ingredients in cosmetics are purified, which includes squalane—thus, Peter Thomas Roth isn't doing something that other brands aren't.
Adding a few drops of this to a moisturizer or serum or applying it directly to skin is quite similar to doing the same with a facial oil (or plain oil, like avocado or argan, for example). As mentioned above, squalane is as basic as it gets for a moisturizing ingredient, but it does have some antioxidant properties that are, again, not much different from many non-fragrant plant oils.
Squalane isn't technically an "oil," but that differentiation is somewhat pedantic, because many emollients aren't technically oils, but still behave similarly when it comes to their effect on skin (like jojoba oil isn't technically an oil, for example, it's a liquid wax).
Ultimately, Oilless Oil 100% Purified Squalane is just a good, ordinary moisturizing ingredient for dry to very dry skin—consider this (like any non-fragrant plant oil) a fine option to add to your routine for extra moisture. This didn't earn our top rating like many facial oils relying on a single ingredient due to the fact that it is incredibly overpriced in comparison to its simplicity and alternatives available from other brands, like Acne.org Jojoba Oil or Physicians Formula Argan Wear Ultra-Nourishing Argan Oil.
Note: The non-comedogenic claim isn't accurate, as any ingredient or product can result in a breakout. More to the point, there are no standardized or universally accepted methods for testing comedogenicity—check the More Info section for more details.
- Squalane is a good moisturizing ingredient for dry skin (like any non-fragrant oil, i.e. olive oil or almond oil, etc.).
- No more special than any other ordinary plant oil, like those you would find in your kitchen cupboard.
- Overpriced for such a simple ingredient.
- Non-comedogenic claims are pure marketing, like any emollient ingredient, squalane is capable of causing a breakout.
Non-Comedogenic: Labels like "non-comedogenic" or "non-acnegenic" seem like safe bets, but are actually unhelpful because these terms were coined under test conditions that are not even remotely applicable to how you, or anyone for that matter, use skincare or makeup products. The "non-comedogenic" myth got its beginnings from a 1979 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology. This study examined the potential of various ingredients (cocoa and shea butters, lanolin and waxes, among others) to clog pores and lead to the formation of comedones—hence the term "comedogenic."
Under the conditions of this study, 100% pure concentrations of ingredients were layered five times per application over a period of two weeks, without cleansing the skin at any time. The manner in which these tests were conducted is not remotely similar to how we use skincare or makeup products—plus very few products are formulated with 100% of any one ingredient. What really determines whether an ingredient present in your skincare or makeup products is likely to trigger a breakout is how much of the ingredient is present in the formula and what else you apply as part of your skincare routine.
The researcher largely credited for developing the concept of comedogenic, Albert Kligman, said as much in his 1972 study, "Acne Cosmetica":
"It is not necessary to exclude constituents which might be comedogenic in a pure state. The concentration of such substances is exceedingly important. To exile such materials as lanolin, petroleum hydrocarbons, fatty alcohols, and vegetable oils from cosmetics would be irrational. What is ultimately important is the comedogenicity of the finished product (Archives of Dermatology, 1972
Last, the terms non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic are not regulated so they're not beholden to any agreed-upon standards. Any product, from the richest cream to the thinnest lotion, can use these claims and not have to prove they really don't clog pores or trigger acne breakouts.