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The Basics of Lanolin
An Age Old Skin Care Ingredient
For thousands of years, lanolin has been known as an extremely powerful emollient (with an amazing ability to soothe, heal, and protect skin). But, in our modern times, few people know much about this truly remarkable substance. So, for many of our customers, its interesting to explore what the term "lanolin" actually means!
Believe it or not, the story of lanolin begins with the first domestication of sheep in ancient times. Indigenous to harsh climates, sheep came nicely equipped to keep warm (with wool fleece). So, around 4,000 years ago, some envious (and likely cold) person decided to share the warmth! Of course, the world was never been the same and wool became a sort of ancient technology revolution!
But, although sheep look pretty chic clothed in thick wool, man was quick to find out there's more to it than fluffy fibers. Fleece looks great, but what would it be like wet! Yuck, not so comfy! And, wool does nothing to prevent sensitive sheep skin from drying in winter, or (where exposed) burning in the sun. So, what's a sheep to do?
Nature's answer to this question is nothing if not amazing! As it turns out, sheep secrete a VERY complex wax (lanolin chemistry) which, essentially, coats their fleece and skin. This lanolin, although not much to look at, has truly remarkable properties. Most notably, lanolin repels water while keeping skin moisturized and protected from the sun!
So, that's why sheep don't get soaked in the rain (or have dry/burned skin)! Who knew? Actually, anyone who's ever shorn sheep (or washed raw wool). In fact, people have been encountering this "wool wax" lanolin for thousands of years. It gets all over the place, but its also great stuff!
Certainly, anyone who gets lanolin on their hands discovers pretty quickly that it works as well on people as it does on sheep! In fact, there's nothing else anything like it (as demonstrated by countless medical studies). Lanolin is just plain fantastic as an emollient (with an absolutely amazing ability to protect, soothe, and heal dry/cracked/irritated skin).
So, from antiquity, people have been saving lanolin for use as a great emollient. In more modern times, pharmacists, doctors, and chemists started purifying the material to produce highly refined grades called "lanolin." Today, Lanicare™ is based on lanolin which is ultra purified.
How do sheep feel about us using their wool and lanolin? Its a great question, and something we take VERY seriously. However, the harvesting of wool and lanolin is entirely benevolent. In fact, unshorn sheep eventually become overburdened with fleece and die (so its a true symbiosis which is essential to our woolly friends).