In case you haven’t heard, there’s a blizzard of epic proportions hitting the east coast right now. And though we may be in the clear here in Los Angeles, our friends facing wintry conditions are on our minds. Whipping winds and frigid temperatures wreak havoc on the sensitive organ that is our skin, so today we’re looking at lanolin—the little-known ingredient that soothes and prevents dry, chapped skin, while restoring much-needed moisture. Keep scrolling to save your skin!
Lanolin is an oil produced by sheep to keep their wool coats waterproof and deodorized. A sheep's shorn wool actually contains the lanolin. In its pure form it looks like a yellow-colored, waxy substance.
Though it can get a bad rap for coming from an animal source, lanolin itself is nothing more than a natural substance (extracted from sheeps' wool) with emollient properties. "Lanolin is a cruelty-free product," says integrative and functional medicine physician Dr. Frank Lipman, who calls it a "winter skin wonder." In addition to its many skin benefits (see next slide), lanolin is also used as a nipple ointment for sore nursing mothers, as well as a diaper rash cream for babies, and as an ingredient in lip balms like Carmex.
Every winter skin woe—from tight, cracked skin to peeling, minor abrasions, and rough, scaly patches—benefits from Lanolin. Its emollient properties soften and heal aggravated areas while forming an oily layer on the top of the skin that traps water to prevent moisture loss.
Yet despite its oily nature and power to keep skin hydrated from the outside in, it won't clog pores. "Put some pure lanolin on your face before heading out into the cold," recommends Dr. Lipman. "It's soothing for dry, chapped skin and also protective against cold harsh weather conditions," he says. "Its coating effect keeps moisture from being drawn out, while allowing the skin to breathe." This is because, unlike Vaseline and other petroleum-based emollients, lanolin forms a non-occlusive barrier on skin, which means it doesn't smother skin.
In addition to pure lanolin, there are many moisturizing cosmetic products on the market that incorporate it as an ingredient, including lip balms, cuticle creams and more. Keep scrolling to see some of our favorites!