The Benefits of Lanolin

The Benefits of Lanolin

Lanolin is a natural waxy material derived from sheep fleece. Its physical and chemical properties result in it having a wide range of uses in a wide range of industries, from beauty products and healthcare treatments, to rust prevention and machine lubrication. It has been utilised as a natural ingredient for hundreds of years, and today remains as a more sustainable alternative to petroleum jelly and various other petrochemical derivatives.
Why use Varroa mite treatments? Reading The Benefits of Lanolin 7 minutes

Lanolin is a waxy substance that sheep naturally produce to protect their wool. Lanolin coats the surface of the wool hairs to give them their waterproof characteristics, which help protect the sheep from the wind and rain whilst grazing across the Welsh landscape.

In the UK sheep are normally shorn in late spring or early summer. Sheep shearing is done to support better animal welfare; it helps the sheep stay cooler during the summer months. Sheep fleece, however, have such low value that it often costs British sheep farmers more to shear the sheep than the produced fleece is sold for. Supporting the sheep industry with additional options for uses of their produce helps to get value from the long tradition of sheep farming which has shaped our countryside for thousands of years.

After shearing, the fleece is transported to a factory in the Midlands, where it is processed to clean the wool. Lanolin extraction is part of this process. By physical scouring in hot water, lanolin is removed from the surface of the wool. High-speed centrifuges then separate the lanolin from the wool, water and other debris. Of the sheep fleece which starts the cleaning process, approximately 10-15% of its weight are waxes, which can be extracted and then purified into lanolin. 

Lanolin is a solid soft wax-like product. It is odourless and has a creamy yellow colour. It is used in a wide range of products and industries; as a barrier to rust on metal surfaces of cars, as a corrosion protection layer in constructions in environmentally sensitive areas, and as an ingredient in a range of healthcare and cosmetics. 


Use of lanolin in healthcare:

The skin of mammals produces a range of oils and waxes to protect it from the environment and retain moisture in the body. The majority of lanolin is made up of alcohol and acid molecules, including a high amount of cholesterol which is an important skin lipid. Using ingredients with similar properties to the skin a healthcare product is to be applied to aids its ease of use, creating a product which can be both breathable and a barrier to water. Lipids are also powerful water-in-oil emulsifiers meaning they can be added to a product which contains both oil and water to help the two stay together and not separate.  


Use of lanolin in cosmetics:

Lanolin has a similar structure to the oils produced naturally by our skin. It has been used as an ingredient in cosmetics for over one hundred years. From lip gloss to skin moisturisers, hair conditioners to soaps. Lanolin is an occlusive moisturiser, which means that it works by forming a hydrophobic barrier on the skin surface to which it is applied. This barrier prevents skin drying out by reducing the amount of water which can leave the upper layers of the skin. Lanolin containing products can help the skin retain moisture, as well as act as an emollient to help keep the skin soft. Whilst petroleum jelly can reduce the evaporation of skins moisture by 98%, lanolin reduces it by 20-30%. The lower level of reduction in skin moisture loss is however preferred by some due to lanolin not being as heavy as petroleum jelly, making it more pleasant to use.


Use of lanolin in vehicle care and maintenance:

Lanolin is also found in lubricants and rust-preventive coatings. Its ability to bind with metal surfaces means it can be applied to exposed metal surfaces and provide a long-lasting protective layer against moisture.

Discover more about how lanolin is used in Andermatt's automotive range for cars, boats and motorbike lubrication and rust protection here.


Use of lanolin in other industries:

The physical properties of lanolin such as its ability to lubricate, waterproof and offer a glossy finish lend it to a diverse range of other industries. Its natural origin and similar structure to oils produced by animals and plants mean that it can also be used as a treatment for natural fibre clothing such as leather, and wooden structures such as buildings, fencing and decking.

Discover more about how lanolin is used in Andermatt's garden tool maintenance range for lubrication, rust protection and cleaning here.

Lanolin is also an alternative to petroleum jelly. Being made from sheep fleece, arguably a waste (and certainly undervalued) product, here in the UK it is more sustainably sourced than petroleum. Both petroleum jelly and lanolin have similar properties; forming waterproofing barriers on solid materials, lubricating   

All of our lanolin is made from sheep fleece in Wales. Locally sourcing of this natural resource results in minimal transit miles and minimal carbon footprint of production. Pure pharmaceutical grade lanolin is supplied in either 100g or 250g pack sizes as standard. For higher volume bulk orders for use as an ingredient in your products please contact us directly to discuss your needs.

Proudly part of the Welsh Wool Alliance, our lanolin and products made from it, are helping support the Welsh wool and sheep farming industry. 




Are sheep harmed during the production of lanolin?

No. Shearing fleece from sheep, is effectively giving the sheep a hair-cut. Unable to shed their wool, sheep are shorn in preparation for warmer weather in the summer months so that they do not get too hot.


Is lanolin vegan suitable?

Lanolin is a by-product from an animal. Whilst the animal is not harmed during the production of lanolin, those who consider that a vegan suitable product should be derived from an animal in any way will mean lanolin is not vegan suitable.


Why do sheep produce lanolin?

The role of lanolin in nature is to protect wool and skin from climate and the environment. It forms a barrier on the sheep fleece which makes it waterproof to protect the sheep from the rain. 


How is lanolin made?

To extract lanolin for commercial use, raw wool is either treated with a soap solution or kneaded and scrubbed in hot water. A centrifuge then separates the different layers of material extracted from the sheep fleece and isolates the lanolin. Further processing includes bleaching, deodorizing, and drying.


What are the advantages of lanolin?

The advantages of lanolin depend on the reason it is being used.

  • Created from a natural source (sheep fleece), lanolin offers similar physical and chemical properties to petroleum derived or synthetically manufactured compounds.
  • More sustainable. Both in terms of its source and origin. Being a naturally-derived product from what is considered by some a waste or at least loss-creating by-product of the lamb and wool industry, it is more sustainable than petroleum sourced wax. By being manufactured in the UK, the lanolin has fewer delivery miles for local companies wanting to use it as an ingredient.


Where can I buy lanolin?

Andermatt supply lanolin in either 100g or 250g packs as standard. We are able to supply any volume, for larger requirements please contact us directly to discuss your needs.