Lanolin, a raw material (wax) of animal origin, obtained by cleaning sheep's wool. Lanolin undergoes a dehydration process (hence its name anhydrous).
At the temperature of 20॰C lanolin has the form of a thick, malleable mass, yellow-brown in colour.
Lanolin does not dissolve in the traditional sense in water, but is able to absorb water (together with the active ingredients dissolved in water) up to 200% of its weight, forming an emulsion. It dissolves well in fats.
Lanolin contains in its composition: cholesterol, isocholesterol, lanosterol, dihydroergosterol, dihydrolanosterol, methacholesterol, hydroxycholesterol, lanyl alcohol, cetyl and ceryl alcohol, cerotinic acid, carnaubic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid. The European Pharmacopoeia has introduced a requirement to test for pesticides in lanolin; the amount must not exceed 1 ug/kg.
Lanolin has the ability to penetrate deep into the skin. On the surface it forms a thin greasy film isolating the skin from unfavourable external conditions (dry air, frost, etc.), it softens the epidermis and smooths the skin. Due to its ability to combine with fats and water it is a natural emulsifier.
In the cosmetics industry (both large and home), it is used as a greasing and moisturising ingredient, an emulsifier, and a means of transporting active ingredients deep into the skin. It is used as an additive to creams, lipsticks and soaps.