Emollient, very thick substance derived from sheep. Lanolin has long been burdened with a reputation for being a sensitizing agent, which has always been a disappointment to formulators because lanolin is such an effective moisturizing ingredient.
A study in the British Journal of Dermatology concluded “that lanolin sensitization has remained at a relatively low and constant rate even in a high-risk population.” Based on a review of 24,449 patients who were tested with varying forms of lanolin, it turned out that “The mean annual rate of sensitivity was 1.7%”—and it was lower than that for a 50% concentration of lanolin. The amounts of lanolin used in products like facial and body moisturizers are much less than this, so the risk, if any, is negligible.
Lanolin is a very good ingredient for someone with dry skin, though it can be a problem for someone with oily or breakout-prone skin. Also, as an animal-derived ingredient, lanolin is sometimes viewed as less favorable in comparison to synthetic or plant-derived alternatives.
Reference for this information:
Dermatitis, March-April 2008, pages 63-72
British Journal of Dermatology, 2001, issue 1, 28-31
About the Experts
Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!