News from CRIS: Trending - Lanolin

March 18, 2024

What is lanolin?

Lanolin, sometimes called wool wax or wool grease, is a waxy substance secreted by sheep's sebaceous glands. The waxy substance coats the sheep's wool to protect the animal from inclement weather.

When a sheep is shorn for its wool, the wool is washed with alkaline ingredients,  centrifuged to separate the fat from the water, and further purified with other alkaline ingredients and bleach (1).

Additional purification steps may be undertaken to further remove contaminants depending on the final use of the lanolin product.

What are lanolin ingredients? Where do I find them?

We can find lanolin ingredients in many personal care products, cosmetics, and topical medicaments.

Common lanolin-containing ingredients include:

  • Lanolin

  • Lanolin Oil

  • Lanolin Wax

  • Lanolin Acid

  • Lanolin Alcohol Acetylated

  • Lanolin Acetylated

  • Lanolin Alcohol Hydrogenated

  • Lanolin Hydroxylated Lanolin

What do lanolin ingredients do?

Lanolin ingredients are added to products for many reasons but are typically used in products designed to benefit our skin (1,2).

In general, lanolin's waxy consistency creates a barrier between the skin and the outside environment.

For health and healing, lanolin can

  • Aid in wound healing

  • Prevent and help heal chapped skin and lips

  • Prevent skin rashes and chafing

  • Be used as a base for ointments

Lanolin may help maintain tissue breathability, promote wound healing, and protect against infection (1,2). Additionally, its barrier properties help prevent transdermal moisture loss, meaning it keeps skin hydrated.

For cosmetic and personal care product uses, lanolin can

  • Serve as an occlusive (e.g., barrier)

  • Serve as an emollient (e.g., soften skin)

  • Add shine and protective properties to cosmetic products

We frequently find lanolin in cosmetic products to help retain skin moisture, create smooth, spreadable products, and act as an effective occlusive and emollient ingredient (1,2).

Is lanolin allergenic? Does it cause adverse health outcomes?

Some people have an allergic response to lanolin ingredients. If you have a lanolin allergy, avoid products containing lanolin ingredients.

Petroleum jelly is a safe and frequent replacement for lanolin-containing ingredients.

As always, you should talk with your medical professional if you have concerns.


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