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What Is Lanolin? Is It Good For You?

By:   |   Jul 08, 2018   |   Views: 12   |   Comments: 0

Lanolin is a very common ingredient in everything from soaps to lotions to lip balms.  I've listed it myself as an ingredient on many a bottle of lotion and bar of soap. That got me to wondering what exactly it is and where does it come from?  Is it animal friendlly and safe for us to use?   We watched an episode of "How It's Made" months ago, in which they discussed where lanolin comes from, and I wanted to share with you what we learned about sheep and lanolin production.

We learned that lanolin is a fatty, yellow tinted, waxy substance that comes from the wool of sheep.   It is excreted by the sebaceous glands on their skin, and acts as waterproofing so they don't get cold.  The glands are associated with their hair follicles.  You might also hear it called wool fat, wool wax, or wool grease. I prefer to call it lanolin - it just sounds classier.  It's name comes from the Latin words LANA for wool and OLEUM for oil.  It's really a wax, chemically speaking, but has been called an oil or grease for centuries.

Lanolin has been used for over 8000 years by every sheep herding culture from the Egyptians, to the Greeks, Romans, Vikings and even the Chinese. The ancient Egyptians used to put blocks of it on their head, which would melt in the sun and provide soft smooth skin.  Sailors and soldiers alike all used lanolin as a very effective anti-corrosion and waterproofing agent for a variety of metals, materials, timbers, and also to protect sails, leather, cannons, etc.   Directions for its use appear in medical and pharmaceutical texts throughout the last 2000 years. It is naturally foul-smelling, but loses its odor when refined for cosmetic products.  Pharmaceutical grade lanolin has been purified to remove pesticides and other chemicals. 

Sheep are not harmed in any way in the process of harvesting lanolin. Lanolin is a very "animal friendly" product. When sheep farmers sheer their sheep to get the wool (about once a year, as needed), they then extract the greasy Vaseline-like lanolin from the sheared wool before they wash it. Sheep need to have their wool sheared off at least once a year or it gets so long it tangles and makes them much too hot for summer conditions. When the wool is cleaned, the lanolin is extracted. Sheering the wool doesn't hurt the sheep, it's basically like getting a haircut. One hundred pounds of wool yield about two to four pounds of lanolin. It is a natural and renewable raw material, not a processed synthetic compound. Pharmaceutical grade lanolin has had all or most of the detergents and pesticide recidues removed.

There are many refinements of lanolin from a very crude form used to coat machine parts to the ultrapure, medical-grade lanolin used in hospitals and medical products. Lanolin can be found in soaps, many cosmetics, ointments, creams, and is used as a lubricant, and in finishing and preserving leather. Surprisingly it is also an ingredient in some varnishes and paints and in some shoe polish.

Although lanolin is natural, many people have allergic reactions to it. It can also clog your skin's pores and may cause you to break out.   ***Tips: If you've used products with lanolin, and haven't had any bad reactions, it's fine to keep using them because lanolin is a completely natural ingredient.

We make a very soothing Tea Tree and Lanolin Goat Milk Soap Bar.  Please see our items on etsy:  www.NeeNeesSoapShop.etsy.com.  Thanks for reading!!

Go to  http://www.NeeNeesSoapShop2.blogspot.com ï»¿ï»¿ for more free advice, recipes and more.  Sign up for our free monthly newsletter, too!

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