Lanolin oil comes from the waxy substance found on sheep's wool. Also known as wool wax, it is produced by a sheep’s sebaceous glands. Lanolin is water repellant to protect sheep from wet, cold conditions. Sheep need to be sheared at least once a year or else their thick fleece becomes too hot for them to tolerate summer temperatures. The wool is then boiled to extract the lanolin.
This oil contains antibacterial and antifungal properties to help prevent a sheep’s skin from becoming infected. Lanolin is composed of organic compounds, including fatty acids and wax esters. These fatty constituents make lanolin oil a popular ingredient in body care products, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical creams.
In its natural state, lanolin has a yellow tint and an unpleasant odor. At room temperature it maintains a solid, waxen state. After the lanolin oil is extracted from the wool and processed, it becomes a liquid. It loses its foul odor after it is refined further for use in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
Lanolin is an emollient, emulsifier, and humectant. These properties make it a popular ingredient in skin and hair care products. Lanolin is commonly used in scalp and hair conditioners because it softens skin and protects it from becoming irritated. Lanolin moisturizes and promotes skin’s elasticity and suppleness, and can be substituted for mineral oil in any skin care product.
This substance has been used for thousands of years. It can be found in medical texts that date as far back as 2,000 years for use as a healing ointment. Lanolin can relieve skin diseases such as eczema. It can also protect skin from becoming too dry after prolonged exposure to water or wind.
Lanolin is a common ingredient in saddle soaps and leather cleaning products. It is used in the leather tanning process, and baseball players often use lanolin oil to soften their gloves. Lanolin oil is also used in shoe polishes to give footwear a glossy shine.
Its water-repellant properties make lanolin a popular anti-corrosive and lubricating grease in various industrial applications. Lanolin oil is commonly applied to ferrous metals as a protective coating to prevent rust. Its ability to prevent rust has been well-known for centuries. During medieval times, lanolin oil was used to coat tools and knights’ armor. Lanolin oil adheres very well to metals and is responsible for the preservation of many ancient relics.