The Benefits & Risks To Know Before Using Lanolin In Your Skincare Routine

Lanolin is a natural moisturizer that comes from sheep's wool. It's a waxy oil that sheep secrete to protect their wool. As such, humans discovered that lanolin is the perfect emollient moisturizer to soothe and soften skin; it's particularly good at relieving the uncomfortable symptoms of dry skin. Lanolin, thanks to its waxy finish, acts as an occlusive on the skin, reducing water loss, much like petroleum jelly does when slugging. While petroleum jelly can be a more effective occlusive than lanolin, and less water is lost, lanolin tends to be a much more wearable moisturizer. It's less heavy and greasy than Vaseline. Although, in the world of much-needed moisture, Vaseline still has a place in our beauty routines.

When a sheep is sheared – with no harm to the sheep – the wool gets collected and cleaned in hot water. The lanolin is extracted and purified, removing dirt and debris until the final product is purified and fit for topical use. In its final phase, lanolin is a soft, yellow color. Lanolin has been a part of human skincare for centuries. As far back as the ancient Greeks, people discovered that a wonderful, waxy substance emerged when they boiled sheep's wool. Ever since, it's been a vital part of cosmetic and skin-related care.

The benefits of lanolin

Lanolin tends to be at its best when people use it for dry, flaky skin. The hydrating, creamy product softens and soothes cracked, dehydrated skin effectively, and is lighter than other heavy-duty moisturizers. No wonder lanolin is a winter time favorite. Lanolin is not only an emollient, which makes the skin softer; it also has the capacity to keep moisture under the skin, making it an occlusive as well. Because of this, it's a popular product in moisturizers, eye creams, and body lotions. ​​"It is widely prevalent in skincare for its emollient and film-forming properties as it has a waxy feel to it," cosmetic chemist Shilpi Jain, MS, told Byrdie. "It has been used for its moisturizing, soothing, humectant, and emulsifying properties in thick creams for face and body." With hydrated skin, lanolin can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The Face Base Lanolin + Vitamin E Day Cream by Lano is a perfect choice.

Lanolin is also a favorite for breastfeeding mothers, as it helps heal any chapped skin around the nipples. It's also a favorite ingredient in makeup removers, since it cleanses the skin without stripping it or leaving it dry. You can even use lanolin for hair and scalp care. Before shampooing, warm up a dime-sized amount of lanolin and massage it into your scalp.

Those with acne-prone skin might steer clear of lanolin

While lanolin is amazing for dehydrated skin, it's not necessarily a perfect choice for all skin types. It is comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores, resulting in blackheads and acne. So if you are already quite oily or prone to these kinds of skin conditions, lanolin isn't going to be your best bet. "If you have blocked pores or problem skin, I would avoid using any products containing lanolin on your skin," Maryam Zamani, MD, told Byrdie. It can be too greasy if your skin already heads in that direction. Also, since it's derived from sheep's wool, if you're allergic to wool, you need to steer clear.

On the topic of sheep's wool, lanolin isn't vegan, since it's an animal by-product. Sheep aren't hurt in the process of shearing, but for those who prefer to use vegan skincare products, lanolin isn't going to be your best choice. People can also have allergic reactions to it. "Lanolin Alcohol is the primary ingredient used in skincare," cosmetic chemist Shilpi Jain, MS, told Byrdie. "It is mostly used in medicated ointments for cracked skin, eczema, burns and scrapes and many other conditions; however, rather than healing, it can cause severe allergic reaction due to its occlusive nature and being slightly comedogenic." While lanolin has many amazing properties and is a favorite among skin care ingredients, it isn't for everyone.