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What is Lanolin?

Lanolin..I've seen it listed as an ingredient on many a bottle of lotion. That got me wondering what exactly it is and where does it come from? Well, I learned that lanolin is a fatty, yellowish substance that comes from the wool of sheep. It is excreted by the sebaceous glands on their skin, and acts as waterproofing so they don't get cold. You might also hear it called wool fat, wool wax, or wool grease. I prefer to call it lanolin - it just sounds classier.


Sheep are not harmed in the process of "harvesting" (for lack of a better word) lanolin. When sheep farmers sheer their sheep to get the wool (about once a year), they then extract the greasy Vaseline-like lanolin from the sheared wool before they wash it. Sheering the wool doesn't hurt the sheep, it's basically like getting a haircut.

Lanolin can be found in soaps, cosmetics, ointments, creams, as a lubricant, and in finishing and preserving leather. Surprisingly it is also an ingredient in some varnishes and paints.

Although lanolin is natural, many people have allergic reactions to it. It can also clog your skin's pores and may cause you to break out.

Fit's Tips: If you've used products with lanolin, and haven't had any bad reactions, it's fine to keep using them because lanolin is a completely natural ingredient.

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