Beauty glossary

What Is Lanolin?

A winter-skin wonder, lanolin is a yellow, waxy oil extracted from sheep’s wool after it’s been sheared and boiled. Because sheep’s fleeces grow continuously and require cutting each year, it’s cruelty-free. And while it might not sound too appealing, its skin benefits are baa-eautiful (sorry, we couldn’t resist).

What Does Lanolin Do?

Lanolin soothes and hydrates dry skin, locking in much-needed moisture and absorbing additional water from the surrounding air – impressively, it can hold 200% of its weight in moisture.

Thanks to its high-fat content, lanolin is an occlusive, meaning it forms an oily barrier on top of the skin to prevent moisture evaporating. But don’t be sheepish – despite its oily nature, lanolin won’t clog pores, allowing the skin to breathe. The result: smooth, plump, super-soft skin.

And it works double duty – as it moisturizes, lanolin’s high levels of vitamin D boost the skin’s immune response, aiding wound healing. Just as lanolin traps moisture within skin cells, it also prevents moisture loss in hair, reducing flyaways and minimizing tangles while maximizing luster.

Who Should Use Lanolin

Particularly useful for soothing chapped lips and dry winter skin, Lanolin is also a lifesaver for breastfeeding mothers suffering from painful cracked nipples. Since it’s so similar to the sebum produced by humans, it’s a natural, safe ingredient for most skin types. However, it does get a bad rap for causing irritation and allergic reactions, especially in those with wool allergies or sensitive skin. So, do a patch test before introducing it to your skincare regimen.

How To Use Lanolin In Your Routine

Found in everything from face creams to makeup and lip balms to shampoos, it’s easy to introduce lanolin into any step of your routine where a serious moisture boost is required. Since it can penetrate deep into the skin, it’s also great for those with hard, callused heels. Just slather it over your feet before bed and leave overnight. By morning, the tough, dead skin should be easy to remove.

Our Fave Lanolin Skincare Products

lanolinSource: Glossier

Glossier Original Balm Dotcom, $12: This multipurpose skin and lip balm is a cult favorite, and for good reason. Not only does it nourish and repair dry, chapped skin, but it’s packed with antioxidants to combat free-radical damage.

lanolinSource: Lanolips

Lanolips 101 Ointment, $15: It’s a truth universally acknowledged; chapped lips are the worst. They split, they crack, they hurt! Say hello to this super-powerful lip healer, designed to simultaneously hydrate and protect, thanks to just one ingredient: Ultra Medical Grade Lanolin. The best bit? This multi-tasker is great for lips, dry patches, paper cuts, ragged cuticles, and itchy skin too!


Lush Pink Peppermint Foot Lotion, $28: While the minty freshness of this rescue remedy soothes achy feet, the lanolin will get to work softening parched skin.

For more juicy deets on all the best skincare ingredients, check out our Beauty Glossary.