It's widely known that we're passionate about clean beauty here at Byrdie—which, of course, eventually culminated in our making our very own Clean Beauty Pledge in 2021. (Read it here.) And while many beauty brands may "talk the talk" when it comes to sustainability and ethical ingredients, we've learned that there are far fewer that actually walk the walk.
And, well, Biossance is one of them: The brand was launched under Sephora in 2017 and is already one of the leading clean skincare brands on the market just a few years later.
And what makes the brand so special is it doesn't just use vegan, cruelty-free ingredients—it saves our oceans (literally!) in the process. "For generations, beauty products were fortified with squalene, a substance that provided exceptional moisture—but at the cost of millions of sharks, harvested for their squalene-rich livers," President of Biossance, Catherine Gore, tells Byrdie. "Our team of Berkeley scientists discovered how to engineer a similar substance—'squalane'—from sustainable sugarcane."
So, you get the benefits of the magical substance, but without the environmental damage and animal cruelty (that, more often than not, go hand-in-hand with it).
Founded: Sephora, 2017
Based In: Emeryville, CA
Best Known For Clean, ethical skincare enhanced by squalane, the brand's exclusive superhero ingredient.
Most Popular Products: Squalane + Vitamin C Rosehip Oil, Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
Fun Fact: The brand's sugarcane-derived "squalane" saves 2 million sharks from poaching per year.
Other Brands You'll Love: Versed Skincare, ILIA Beauty
Not to mention, Biossance's exclusive formula works. "Our squalane formula is weightless yet deeply hydrating and effective for even the most sensitive skin. That's why it's at the heart of every Biossance formula," Gore says.
Wondering what's so good about it? Well, it's kind of like a mini biology lesson to learn about it straight from Team Biossance. "Essentially, the purer, ethically-sourced, and vegan squalane is a molecular match for the moisture already found in our skin," Gore continues. "It's incredible on its own, but a perfect conduit to make other ingredients (like Vitamin C or lactic acid) perform even better."
And it doesn't end there: Biossance backs up its revolutionary products with tangible action in the form of conservation work and partnerships. "Through our partnership with Oceana, we encourage our community to support ocean and shark conservation—causes we're incredibly passionate about," Gore says. "We share sustainability tips and host community events like beach cleanups and our second-annual Impact Awards this summer—a mentorship program that discovers and supports future sustainability innovators, awarding $40,000 to support ocean conservation projects."
Basically, Biossance is more than just a pretty face in the clean-beauty world, with good products for your skin and the planet.
Below, find our fave Biossance products that are as effective as they are ethical.
Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil
Nothing beats a luxe-feeling facial oil, and Biossance's number-one bestseller certainly gets the job done in that arena.
"Our Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil has been our hero product since the beginning," says Gore. "I don't think there's a better, more effective combination of Vitamin C out there—and not to mention, the rose scent is amazing." The benefits of Vitamin C in your skincare regimen can not be overstated, by the way.
Of course, the formula is infused with the brand's signature moisture-locking squalane. The results are a brighter complexion, a more even skin texture, and less visible wrinkles—because you can bet those potent ingredients are working overtime.
Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream
Who knew algae was a powerful skincare ingredient? Well, the scientists behind Biossance clearly had a hunch—because they packed potent marine algae in the brand's bestselling eye cream, and the results don't lie.
Thanks to the combination of marine algae, squalane, and extract from the paracress plant, you'll notice a brighter, younger-looking eye area in just 7 days. (This is based on a clinical study by Biossance, which noted that 100 percent of the 33 women who tested the product—ages 35–60—noticed an improvement of their fine lines and wrinkles after the first application alone.)
ICYMI: Squalane packs a hydrating punch that isn't overly greasy or heavy, which is extra-important for your sensitive, delicate eye area. The lightweight formula, in fact, is the perfect canvas for makeup, too—so you can use it both AM and PM.
Squalane + Omega Repair Cream
You've heard about eating good fats, but what about slathering them on your face? The technical word for the "good fats" I'm referring to is "lipids"—a natural molecule that can mimic and support skin's natural moisture barrier (without leaving behind a greasy film).
Biossance's Squalane + Omega Repair Cream enlists omega fatty acids, ceramides, and plant sterols for a rich, ultra-hydrating repair cream that leaves skin more hydrated, nourished, and plump than before—which also means you may notice a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Win-win.
Personally, my favorite thing about this product is how dewy and soft it leaves my skin without any added, unwanted shininess. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.
Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
Having sensitive skin—ahem—can be a pain in the butt when you're looking for the right skincare. You want something that works without, of course, risking inflammation or irritation.
That's why Biossance's Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer is perfect. The ultra-effective, hydrating moisturizer is potent yet calming—and the lightweight texture is great for those with combination or oily skin, too, who might not want something too rich or heavy.
Infused with probiotic technology, the gel formula is ultra-soothing, reduces redness, and keeps your skin, pores, and complexion balanced and calm.
Squalane + Caffeine Toning Body Cream
No joke: This was probably the softest, most luxurious-feeling body cream I've ever gotten my hands on (or in). I was instantly taken aback by how rich yet lightweight it was, and I was excited to slather it all over my body, knowing the caffeine and squalane-based formula "absorbs instantly and helps to restore elasticity for a sculpted, toned look," according to Biossance's website.
And while it may be too soon to tell if this vegan body cream can actually give a sculpted look to my thighs, I can definitely confirm that the caffeine—ethically sourced from green coffee beans—and the niacinamide (aka, Vitamin B) in the formula left me feeling silky-smooth.
And of course, the pièce de résistance on the label is the brand's magic ingredient: Its famous sugarcane-derived squalane, created to mimic the skin's natural lipids for a soothed, moisturized skin barrier.