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MoonDragon's Health & Wellness Therapy
Herbal Butters & Waxes

For Informational Use Only
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  • Lanolin Description
  • Lanolin Uses & Applications
  • Lanolin Dosage Information
  • Lanolin Safety & Interaction Information
  • Lanolin Products

  • lanolin


    Although Lanolin is not a "plant-based butter or oil", it is often used in skin products for its protecting, moisturizing, softening and skin healing properties and has been included with butters and waxes for description and usage purposes and may be a valuable addition to your homemade skin preparations.

    Lanolin is a yellow, waxy substance extracted from the fibers of sheep's wool. This substance is secreted from the skin's sebaceous glands of sheep (wool-bearing animals) and gets trapped in the sheep's wool, giving the sheep protection from rain and moisture (water-proofing property that aids sheep in shedding water from their coats). Most Lanolin used by humans comes from domestic sheep breeds that are raised specifically for their wool. The meat of such breeds is considered vastly inferior in quality to that from breeds raised specifically for their meat, partially due to the presence of Lanolin. This natural secretion is very similar to the oils we naturally secrete from our own skin. Lanolin's chemical composition is chiefly a mixture of cholesterol and the esters of several fatty acids. If you add water to Lanolin it forms an emulsion. As a waste product in wool processing, it is known also as wool wax, wool fat, or wool grease even though the term "wool fat" is an incorrect definition. Lanolin is devoid of glycerides and is in fact a wax, not a fat.

    lanolin from sheep's wool

    Certain breeds of sheep produce large amounts of Lanolin, and the extraction can be performed by squeezing the sheep's harvested wool betwee rollers. Crude lanolin constitutes about 5 to 25-percent of the weight of freshly shorn wool. The wool from one Merino sheep will produce about 250 to 300 ml of recoverable wool grease. Lanolin is extracted by washing the wool in hot water with a special wool scouring detergent to remove dirt, wool grease (crude lanolin), suint (sweat salts), and anything else stuck to the wool. The wool grease is continuously removed during this washing process by centrifugal separators, which concentrate it into a wax-like substance melting at approximately 38°C (100°F).

    lanolin from merino sheep's wool

    Most or all of the Lanolin is removed from wool when it is processed into textiles, such as yarn or felt. Lanolin's role in nature is to protect wool and skin against the ravages of climate and the environment. It also seems to play a role in integumental hygiene. Lanolin and its many derivatives, not surprisingly, are used extensively in products designed for the protection, treatment and beautification of human skin. Lanolin is thick like petroleum jelly. When it is applied to the skin, Lanolin seals your body's moisture in and protects it from dry air. Lanolin is considered a 'heavy duty' moisturizer and emollient that can be used on dry, rough, and chapped skin. It is also used as a lubricant, and it is found in some hair conditioners to lock in moisture and soften hair.

    Like many natural products, Lanolin is complex and variable in composition. For example, a typical high purity grade of Lanolin is composed predominantly of long chain waxy esters (circa 97-percent by weight) the remainder being Lanolin alcohols, Lanolin acids and Lanolin hydrocarbons. An estimated 8,000 to 20,000 different types of Lanolin esters are present in Lanolin, resulting from combinations between the 200 or so different Lanolin acids and the 100 or so different Lanolin alcohols identified so far.


  • Lanolin and its many derivatives are used extensively in both the personal care (e.g. in high value cosmetics, facial cosmetics, lip products, etc.) and health care sectors. It is frequently used in protective baby skin treatment and as a treatment for sore nipples in breastfeeding mothers.

  • Lanolin is used commercially in many industrial products ranging from rust-proof coatings to lubricants. Some sailors use lanolin to create slippery surfaces on their propellers and stern gear to which barnacles cannot adhere. The water-repellent properties make it valuable as a lubricant grease where corrosion would otherwise be a problem.

  • Lanolin is often used as a raw material for producing Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D-3).

  • Baseball players often use it to soften and break in their baseball gloves (shaving cream with lanolin is popularly used for this).

  • Anhydrous lanolin is also used as a lubricant for brass instrument tuning slides.

  • Lanolin can also be restored to woolen garments to make them water and dirt repellent, such as for cloth diaper covers.

  • A flaxseed oil-based lubricant commonly known as "wool wax" used to polish wood furniture is unrelated to lanolin; its name comes from its being a paste wax applied using steel wool.

  • Lanolin is also used in lip balm products such as Carmex. For some people, it can irritate the lips. Another use is in a product called "Bag Balm" used for treating Dairy Cow udders and teats (cow nipples) for the chapping or cracking that may occur from milking (just like our breastfeeding human counterparts) and poor weather conditions (it also benefits the people milking the cows and keeps their hands soft and protected). My mother always kept a can of Bag Balm in the barn for our cow and another by the kitchen sink for her hands when she washed dishes.


    Using Lanolin products daily promotes the smoothness and translucency associated with healthy, youthful skin. Apply as often as needed.

    Skin bioengineering studies have shown the durational effect of the emollient (skin smoothing) action produced by lanolin is very significant and lasts for many hours. Lanolin applied to the skin at 2 mg/cm2 has been shown to reduce roughness by about 35-percent after one hour and 50-percent after two hours, with the overall effect lasting for considerably more than eight hours. Lanolin is also known to form semiocclusive (breathable) films on the skin. When applied daily at around 4 mg/cm2 for five consecutive days, the positive moisturizing effects of lanolin were detectable until 72 hours after final application. Lanolin may achieve some of its moisturizing effects by forming a secondary moisture reservoir within the skin.

    In other studies, the barrier repair properties of lanolin have been reported to be superior to those produced by both petrolatum and glycerin. In a small clinical study conducted on volunteer subjects with terribly dry (xerotic) hands, lanolin was shown to be superior to petrolatum in reducing the signs and symptoms of dryness and scaling, cracks and abrasions, and pain and itch. In another study, a high purity grade of lanolin was found to be significantly superior to petrolatum in assisting the healing of superficial wounds.


    As a topical, there are no known side effects or interactions associated with Lanolin.

    Lanolin's safety and efficacy are probably best illustrated by taking a look at the market. High Lanolin content in baby care products (some as high as 100-percent) and treatment products for nursing mothers are commonplace. New products obtained using complex purification techniques produce lanolin esters in their natural state, removing oxidative and environmental impurities resulting in white, odorless, hypoallergenic lanolin. These ultra-high purity grades of lanolin are ideally suited to the treatment of dermatological disorders such as eczema and on open wounds.

    For more Herbal Recipe, return to index:

    MoonDragon's Health Therapy: Herbal Butters & Waxes Index
    MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Lanolin Information


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  • Lanolin Moisturizing Products



    Starwest Botanicals: Lanolin Oil, Refined, 4 oz.
    Starwest Botanicals: Lanolin Oil, Refined, 8 oz.
    Starwest Botanicals: Lanolin Oil, Refined, 1 gallon


    HerbsPro: Lanolin & Pau D'Arco Skin Salve, Alta Health, 1 fl. oz. (13485)
    HerbsPro: HPA Lanolin For Breastfeeding Mothers, Lansinoh, 1.333 oz. (97626)
    Do not let the discomfort of sore nipples interrupt this special relationship. Experience soothing relief with Lansinoh HPA Lanolin. Hypoallergenic, completely natural and free of harmful chemicals, it does not need to be removed prior to breastfeeding.
    HerbsPro: Liquid Lanolin, Heritage Products, 4 fl. oz. (15607)
    HerbsPro: Liquid Lanolin, Home Health, 4 fl. oz. (15695)
    HerbsPro: Liquid Pure Lanolin, Now Foods, 4 fl. oz. (68386)
    HerbsPro: Lanolin, Pure, Now Foods, 7 oz. (68387)
    HerbsPro: Aloe & Lanolin Shave Cream, Noxema (99349)


    Kalyx: Breastfeeding Natural Nipple Butter, Earth Mama Angel Baby, 2 fl oz: K
    Kalyx: Lanolin Anhydrous Oil, Pure, Refined, Starwest Botanicals, 4 fl oz: C
    Kalyx: Lanolin Liquid, Heritage Store, 4 fl oz: HF
    Heritage Products Lanolin is an emollient oil and cosmetic base. Soothing salve From sheared sheep's wool. Free Of Wax.
    Kalyx: Liquid Lanolin, Home Health, 4 fl oz: HF
    Kalyx: Lanolin Anhydrous Skin Care Oil, Starwest Botanicals, 8 fl oz: C
    Kalyx: Lanolin Anhydrous Oil, Pure, Refined, Starwest Botanicals, 1 Gallon: C


    Amazon: Lanolin Moisturizing Products
    Amazon: Bag Balms Health & Personal Care Products

  • Nutrition Basics: Lanolin Information

  • MoonDragon's Womens Health Index

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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics Index
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: 4 Basic Nutrients
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  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #1
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