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What Are the Different Types of Lanolin Products?

Susan Grindstaff
Susan Grindstaff

Lanolin is a protective and lubricating substance that is derived from the glandular secretions of animals with woolen coats. Most of the lanolin used in commercial products comes from domestic sheep raised specifically for its production. Synthetic lanolin is also widely used, and though it is less expensive, it is believed to not work as well as natural lanolin and higher instances of allergic reaction have been documented with the synthetic version. Some of the more common lanolin products include skin moisturizers, makeup, and protective creams. Lanolin is also used in various lubricants and polishers.

Since lanolin is essentially a fat, it works very well for moisturizing the skin, and is a common additive in moisturizers for both the face and body. Many people use it after bathing or at night before going to bed. Lanolin products are believed to help keep skin smooth and may even help prevent wrinkles. Due to its high content of fat and oil, lanolin may not be ideal when pimples or outbreaks of acne are present.

A fabric softener containing lanolin.
A fabric softener containing lanolin.

As a skin protectant, lanolin has generally been shown to be quite effective. Many lanolin products are designed to guard the skin against environmental agents and damage caused by weather. Lanolin is often found in lip balm, sunscreen, and topical ointment.

Within the cosmetic industry, lanolin is commonly used as an ingredient in many different types of makeup, including foundation, lipstick, and eye shadow. Not only does it act as a bonding agent, helping to hold all the ingredients together, but it also makes cosmetic products easier to apply. Cosmetics that contain lanolin typically go on smoothly, without excessive caking or clumping.

Lanolin is used in many lipsticks.
Lanolin is used in many lipsticks.

Lanolin products are also frequently used in the heavy equipment industry, especially in marine environments where water resistance is a factor. Many boat owners coat the bottom of their vessels in lanolin to keep them free from mold, barnacles, and fungus. Lanolin products can also be used to grease gears and other moving parts that can become stiff from exposure to dampness.

Some fabric softeners contain lanolin.
Some fabric softeners contain lanolin.

In the household, lanolin is found in products such as furniture polish, waxes, and even fabric softeners. The oily base of lanolin can penetrate wood, not only making it shine, but also giving it a layer of protection against dirt and spills. Many fabric softeners contain small amounts of lanolin, but some people prefer lanolin alone for softening laundry. Lanolin can be added to the washing machine during the rinse cycle in the same way that fabric softener is used.

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Discussion Comments


Lanolin can be use in many different things, but I think soap is the number one product, probably because of its moisturizing effects.

My husband is actually looking for a shaving soap or shaving cream with lanolin. He has sensitive skin and his current shaving cream gives him very dry skin.

So far he's found several shaving creams that contain it. Interestingly, they're mostly European products. I guess lanolin products are not as popular here in the US.


@burcidi-- I'm not sure but my favorite hand cream has lanolin in it and the price is at the higher end.

I think cheaper products are more likely to contain synthetic lanolin. So when you're buying personal care items, try and get high quality products and if possible organic products. Organic, all-natural products won't have synthetic lanolin.


I have an allergy to synthetic lanolin but not to natural lanolin. How can I tell if a product has synthetic or natural lanolin?

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    • A fabric softener containing lanolin.
      By: picsfive
      A fabric softener containing lanolin.
    • Lanolin is used in many lipsticks.
      By: bst2012
      Lanolin is used in many lipsticks.
    • Some fabric softeners contain lanolin.
      By: sassyphotos
      Some fabric softeners contain lanolin.