Did you know that ancient Roman sheep farmers had softer and smoother hands than rich matrons? It was all because of the sheeps.
These cute animals gave them lanolin, a thing so moisturizing the beauty industry jumped on it as soon as it learned about the legend. Seriously, before the 60s, you could hardly find a cream or lotion without lanolin.
Then, things changed. All of a sudden, a lot of people became allergic to lanolin. Sales went down. Brands dropped it like a hot potato.
Until now. Lanolin has become hot again. Turns out, it had been unfairly maligned all along…
What The Heck Is Lanolin?
Wool fat. Or wool wax. (Cute nicknames, huh?).
Lanolin is the thick, greasy, yellow substance sheep naturally produce to protect themselves from harsh weather.
Think of it as a raincoat: lanolin waterproofs their body so that when they’re out in the cold and rain for hours, they won’t get cold (aren’t you just a little bit jealous now?).
How Is Lanolin Collected?
No sheep are harmed in the collection of lanolin (can we all heave a sigh of relief, here?).
Once they are sheared, lanolin is extracted from their wool before it is washed. Next, it’s purified. Allergens, pesticides used by farmers and all that craps is removed.
One last step: lanolin is tested to make sure it’s safe to be put on the skin. Phew!
Why Is Lanolin Used In My Beauty Products?
Lanolin is a super moisturizing multitasker. You can use it on skin, nails and hair.
Basically, it locks in moisture. It prevents water from evaporating and makes even the driest of skin all soft and smooth.
Another perk? Lanolin blends so well with most ingredients, it is also used to help form emulsions.
Sounds Great! So, Why Did Lanolin Get A Bad Rep?
Here’s the “funny” thing. Lanolin has been used for literally centuries, yet it was only in the ’60s that people started having problems with it.
That’s when farmers started using more and more pesticides on their crops – and on their sheep – to protect them from infestation.
Some traces of these pesticides ended up in beauty products. They, NOT lanolin, gave people allergic reactions. Scary stuff, huh?
So, Is Lanolin Really Bad Then?
Nope. Lanolin was a problem when was put into cosmetics as is. These days all those pesticides are removed during the purification process, so it’s not very likely to cause allergic reactions anymore (unless your skin is super sensitive!)
A study published in the British Journal Of Dermatology in 2001 says “that lanolin sensitization has remained at a relatively low and constant rate even in a high-risk population (i.e. patients with recent or active eczema)”.
That’s a fancy way of saying that allergies to lanolin are rare. The only real concern about lanolin is that it’s mildly comedogenic. If you’re prone to breakouts, this is not something you want to put on your skin.
What Are The Best Products With Lanolin?
- DHC Olive Leaf Milk ($42.00): lanolin + olive oil. Available at DHC.
- Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant (£27.00): lanolin + fragrance free. Available at Feel Unique.
- Lano Lips Hands All Over (£18.00): lanolin + Manuka honey. Available at Net A Porter.
The Bottom Line
Unless you have very sensitive skin that reacts to pretty much anything, are prone to breakouts, or simply refuse to use products derived from animals, there is no reason to avoid lanolin. It is safe and super moisturizing!
Do you use products with lanolin? If so, what are your favourites? Share them in the comments below.