Best used: AM/PMCaution: Allergic contact dermatitisBest for: Dry skin, chapped lips
Comments: Not a favourite amongst dermatologist as allergies can occurMode of action: Emollient, moisturizer  Science Score:



What is the science behind lanolin?

Lanolin is classed as an emollient. This ingredient reduces water loss from the skin & hence is used as a moisturizer for the face, body & lips. It can hold 2-4 times its weight in moisture & hence lanolin is found with other emollients in many brands of moisturizers.

What are the skin benefits of lanolin alcohol?

Lanolin alcohol is the primary type of lanolin used in skin care. This substance has powerful emollient properties and can be used in the following ways-

Chapped lip treatments: Lanolin is a popular emollient found in many lip balms, including overnight lip masks as it is a super powerful hydrator. 

Heals dry, cracked skin: Lanolin is classified as an emollient. It can repair barrier function as it is highly occlusive. Traditionally it has been used to treat dry skin, eczema, & scratches.

Wrinkles & Fine lines/ Anti-aging: As it absorbs 2-4 times its weight in water, it can hydrate the epidermis, reducing lines & wrinkles (As a comparison Hyaluronic Acid holds over 1000 times its weight in water).

Where is lanolin derived from?

Lanolin is derived from wool fat (sheep). Lanolin is a naturally occurring substance that is secreted by the oil glands of wool producing mammals. This substance is purified through centrifugation & extraction. 

Davin’s View on Lanolin Use

As a dermatologist we have been traditionally taught to avoid lanolin & lanolin alcohol at all costs. This is primarily due to our rotations in skin patch test clinics where it is not uncommon to find patients with multiple allergies to ingredients such as fragrance, preservatives, nickel, & lanolin. Routine patch testing of patients with unknown sensitives can yield a positive patch test to lanolin alcohol in as many as 6% of cases. Most cases will have compromised skin barriers such as chronic stasis dermatitis. 

In the real world the incidence of lanolin allergy is low, much less than 2%. If you do have an idiosyncratic reaction to lanolin, cease application. You can perform a patch testing to confirm or exclude. Your medical dermatologist can assist. 

Disclaimer: I am a procedural dermatologist & not medical. My work is based on surgical, injectable or laser cases. If you do have skin rashes or possible allergies, please consult my colleagues at Cutis Dermatology, Brisbane.



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