Lanolin: what it is, what it is for and recommendations

The sebaceous glands of wool-producing mammals, especially sheep, secrete a wax capable of waterproofing and protecting the skin from moisture. This natural wax is called lanolin and is extracted when cutting wool, as it also prevents the animal from being damaged during shearing.

Often considered an animal fat, lanolin is a yellowish odorless substance whose texture resembles that of petroleum jelly. Despite having different uses, it stands out for its moisturizing and emollient action that can be used in the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema. Discover everything you need to know about wool wax.

What is lanolin used for?

Lanolin serves as a natural moisturizer to, for example, improve dry lips.

Known for its moisturizing effect, lanolin is a hypoallergenic wax with a bacteriostatic effect; In other words, although it is not capable of killing bacteria, it inhibits their reproduction, so they age and die without offspring.

In the same way, acts as an emollient, a substance that can reduce calluses and calluses, soften and protect the skin, as well as fight eczema.

For this reason, it is common for lanolin to be used in different areas, as is the case in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. In general, it is usually used in:

  • Creams for medical and cosmetic use (moisturizers, make-up removers, for shaving, anti-aging, for diaper rash, among others).
  • Makeup products like lipsticks, face powders, and more.
  • Products and remedies to reduce dry scalp.
  • Soaps and detergents.
  • Products for polishing leather or shoe creams.
  • The elaboration of vitamin D.

Read also: 8 foods that provide vitamin D

Benefits for our skin

As we have seen, lanolin is a famous emollient that can treat dry skin and dehydrated skin. A study published in Clinical Medicine & Research demonstrated that it is capable of reducing the loss of water from the skin by between 20 and 30% so it can hydrate, soften and improve the appearance of rough and scaly areas.

Now, these are not the only benefits that this natural wax offers to the dermis. Let's take a closer look at what other ways you can help.

Reduce wrinkles

Both lanolin oil and alcohol are widely used ingredients in anti-aging creams., which is why it is believed that they could be effective in reducing wrinkles and fine lines.

Although there is little scientific evidence, These effects are associated with the fact that lanolin can contain twice its weight in water, which would give the skin volume and combat these signs of aging.

Reduce hair dryness

Due to its emollient action that prevents water loss, lanolin oil can be used in the treatment of dry hair. You should always apply it when it is damp or wet, since if it is dry, there will be no moisture to retain.

What's more, you will need to wash your hair with a deep cleaning shampoo or apple cider vinegar due to the waxy texture of this oil, so that no trace of the product remains.

Treat dry lips

As with dry skin and hair, lanolin oil is linked to treating dryness and cracks that appear on the lips. According to a study published in Journal Applied Oral Science, lanolin cream successfully reduced the dry lips experienced by people undergoing chemotherapy sessions.

In the same way, it is known that this wax can penetrate the layers of the lips better than other substances that only reach the outer barrier. It is also considered safe to apply to newborns with this problem on the lips. However, it is recommended to consult with a pediatrician before doing so.

Heal cracked nipples

Cracked nipples are common during the breastfeeding process. For this reason, some specialists recommend applying lanolin to this area to relieve pain and stop bleeding.

This wax is believed to be able to restore moisture to the nipples, so breastfeeding women are advised to purchase 100% pure and refined lanolin. This should be done with great care, as unpurified lanolin could cause allergic reactions in infants.

Doctors often recommend the use of lanolin to relieve cracked nipples from breastfeeding.

Other benefits of lanolin for the skin

There are other ways that lanolin could contribute to skin care. These are the following:

  • Smooth roughness in elbows and heels: the dryness of the skin produces roughness in areas such as heels and elbows, and promotes the accumulation of dead cells. Therefore, it is recommended to use lanolin to soften these calluses and remove dead skin.
  • Treat diaper rash– Moisture from diapers can cause irritation and inflammation of the skin of babies. Fortunately, lanolin serves as a buffer between moisture and infants' skin.
  • Heal minor burns: lanolin is associated with the relief and care of injuries caused by the action of fire and heat.
  • Improve wound healing: Lanolin is attributed healing properties, which is why it is believed that it could accelerate the healing of wounds and injuries.

How can it be found?

Thanks to its properties and health benefits, lanolin can be found in a variety of commercial presentations. These include:

  • Pure lanolin (if it is of quality, it does not have more than 0.25% water).
  • Lanolin oil
  • Lanolin alcohol.
  • Creams for medical and cosmetic use (anti-aging, moisturizers, for diaper rash, for the nipples, among others).
  • Beauty products (lip balms, masks, make-up removers, among others).
  • Soaps, shampoo, conditioners and detergents.

Prevention and contraindication

For the non-allergic, lanolin is safe to consume and use topically. However, ingesting large amounts of this wax, which is used to make vitamin D, is harmful, since it can be toxic and tends to accumulate in the intestines. In general, lanolin can cause allergy and poisoning. Find out what each of these scenarios are like.

Lanolin allergy

Since lanolin is the main cause of wool allergies, people with this condition should avoid it. This wax is a skin sensitizer; that is, a substance that triggers an allergic reaction when it comes into contact with the dermis.

However, lanolin allergies are very rare. According to a study published in British Journal of Dermatology, only 1.7% of the 25,000 people prone to allergies had signs of this particular condition. The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction are swelling of the eyes, lips, and throat, a rash, and trouble breathing.

Lanolin poisoning

Lanolin poisoning can occur in a number of waysEither the oil is swallowed by mistake or a lip balm is used and excessive amounts of it are swallowed when licking the lips. Its symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, rash, inflammation, and redness of the skin.

Discover: 10 types and causes of skin rashes

What to remember about lanolin?

Lanolin is a natural wax that is obtained from animals that produce wool.. This is produced by the sebaceous glands of these mammals and serves to protect the wool from moisture, as well as to avoid injuries during shearing.

Usually, This is used in products for medical and cosmetic use such as creams, shampoos, soaps and detergents.. Similarly, it serves as an ingredient in leather polishing products and shoe creams.

Its benefits are related to health and skin care. It is believed that it can reduce wrinkles, treat dry lips, heal cracked nipples, and decrease dryness of hair and scalp.

On the other hand, cannot be used by people allergic to woolas this can trigger a number of symptoms. Likewise, its intake should be avoided, since in excessive amounts it is capable of causing intoxication.