I'm no skincare expert, but after years of reading ingredient lists I've worked out what my skin likes. There's the retinols, salicylic acid, and alpha hydroxy acids (see my previous post on my skincare routine), but I've noticed squalane and niacinamide cropping up in several of my recent favourites.
Healthy skin contains a bunch of fats, sugars, and proteins known as Natural Moisturising Factors (NMF), which help to trap water and keep it hydrated. One of these molecules is squalene, which is an essential part of the production of sterols like cholesterol, vitamin D, and sex hormones. (It's also present in snot, FYI.) Commercially it's derived from shark liver oil, but it seems that most companies now use squalane, a closely related molecule which is mainly derived from plant sources like olives -- cruelty free, and much kinder on the environment.
Niacinamide (AKA nicotinamide, vitamin B3, or nicotinic amide) is a cell communicating ingredient, which means it tells skin cells how to behave properly -- like your parents teaching you to share and say thank you. In particular, niacinamide derivatives act as antioxidants and are involved in DNA damage repair. It also acts to increase skin's barrier function and helping to improve the appearance of inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea and acne. Basically, it's fab for anti-ageing purposes.
I have combination skin -- visible pores, oily through the t-zone, and a few patches prone to dryness. My main skin concerns are post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (the marks left behind after acne) and moisturising my skin without overloading it. I've found the following products to work well for me, and all contain either squalane or niacinamide, or both.
Both the Bio Beaute by Nuxe Flash Perfection Beautifying Serum and the Pixi Flawless & Poreless Primer (previously) contain squalane, and I've been using them as daytime moisturisers and/or primers under makeup. Both are really lightweight lotions (the Pixi is just a touch thicker), but don't overload my skin. The only problem with the Nuxe is that it seems to only be available in Europe -- I haven't seen it here in the UK.
Olay is one of the few brands at the "drugstore" level which uses good anti-ageing ingredients like niacinamide. I've been liking their Total Effects range, particularly the Pore Minimizer CC Cream (previously) and the Night Firming Moisturiser. The CC Cream provides lightweight coverage and lasts pretty well if I put a layer of powder (like MAC MSFN) on top. I don't use the Night cream daily at the moment, as I prefer a lighter serum, but I'll use it on dryer days -- it leaves my skin balanced and "plump" feeling, without feeling greasy.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo[+] and Toleriane Ultra eye cream are both pretty new to me, and contain both squalane and niacinamide. I've been using the Effaclar Duo[+] almost every day, both day and night, as an all over moisturiser, and I feel like I've seen a noticeable difference in my post-acne marks. It's perfect as a lightweight moisturiser for oily skins, and it contains salicylic acid for your pore unclogging needs. The Toleriane Ultra eye cream is basically identical in texture to the Effaclar, and the great thing is that it's super lightweight and unscented -- both issues I've had with other eye creams. I don't have many under-eye issues, so I can't comment on its effects on under eye circles or wrinkles, but it's definitely helped with the dryness (when I remember to put it on).
Have you used any of these, or other products containing squalane and niacinamide?