Moisturizing the skin. This has been a process and a problem since recorded time began. Today the problem of keeping softness and elasticity in your skin is tenfold due to the added chemicals, testing on animals, and known carcinogens found in cosmetics. Among all of this, an ancient and natural way to keep skin healthy is reemerging. Not without its criticisms, lanolin is a product that is here and may be unequalled in its ability to take care of your skin.
Lanoline is simply wax from sheep’s wool. A sheep has wool, we all know that. But what you may not know is that wool is covered with a water repellent wax, also called wool fat, which helps to keep the sheep dry, warm and healthy. This is boiled in order to extract it from the sheep’s wool when the sheep is sheered. It has long been known that the hands of herdsmen, especially those from New Zealand, have enjoyed very soft hands with ongoing youthful looks. The use of lanolin is also dated back to the time of the Greeks. As far back as 1600 B.C. it has been recorded that lanolin was used to waterproof tents and linens for the ground during battles. At the time lanolin was referred to as oesypus. The process of extracting the substance was often laborious using ancient methods. Much later in 1882, Otto Braun, a German scientist developed a method of extracting the wax using a centrifuge. He then named it lanolin using the Latin words for wool and oil.
The process of extracting the lanolin is completely safe to the sheep; however the refinement process that follows is the main source of criticism against lanolin. After the wax is boiled to extract the lanolin the process continues with refinement. Proponents of the use of lanolin cite this refinement process as the reason you should NOT use it as an emollient product. Lanolin can be refined to levels that are approved by the FDA and still have impurities in it. The impurities can come from the wax itself or be added by chemicals and other ingredients in the cosmetic process. The wax can also be contaminated with DDT, Lindane, and Dieldrin, all known to be dangerous pesticides. These pesticides get into the wax and therefore the lanolin when the sheep eats foods that contain them.
No doubt these are legitimate concerns when opting to use lanolin as your moisturizer of choice. However, if you take the time to look for lanoline that is sold by reputable companies with good reputations and make sure that the product is labeled pure grade and you’ll be able to enjoy a very safe and very effective product.
Now, some of the major benefits of the use of lanolin. Because the wax used to extract the lanolin is nearly identical to your skin’s own natural oils, lanolin has been observed to be unequalled in its ability to moisturize the skin. This moisturizing process happens at the stratum corneum level. As the outmost layer of the skin’s epidermis, the purpose of this layer is to form a barrier of protection for the underlying layers of the epidermis, leaving it safe from infection and disease. The stratum corneum also regulates the amount of moisture loss, so when it is replenished with lanolin, it is able to quickly restore softness and elasticity, leaving your skin soft and healthy.
Another benefit to using lanolin is the fact that is 100% natural. When it is of “pure grade” there are no chemicals or other agents present and the body can enjoy a moisturizer free of contaminants. Because of its properties it is also safe to use high quality lanolin everyday on your skin.
Let’s not forget that the whole process of extracting lanolin is completely safe to the sheep. It may be argued that the sheep doesn’t exactly enjoy being sheered, there is no physical harm done in the process and the sheep quickly regrows its source of warmth when it’s needed. Compared to the use of oils take from emus, which are killed in the process, this is an outstanding alternative.
Lanolin has also been found to be an insignificant allergen. Again, due to the fact that the wax has a lot of the same make up as your body’s own oils, there is a very low instance of people having allergic reactions to the product.
There are pros and cons to the use of lanolin so do your own research and decide for yourself. Most of the information out there on the topic is positive as lanolin seems to be unstoppable as a moisturizing agent. When you take into account the all-natural source and the safety to animals it becomes more and more promising.