sterols like cholesterol, lanesterol, and agnesterol, which we know offer great moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties, and cetyl and stearyl alcohols, which are great emollients and thickeners. (The cholesterol is of particular interest for moisturizing as our stratum corneum lipids are made up 20% to 25% cholesterol and our skin particularly likes this type of sterol.)
We see lanolin in a lot of nail products, especially nail polish removers, because it is such an amazing emollient that offers serious moisturizing and water repellancy. It helps create a barrier to keep water in to help moisturize our skin, and it will help keep lotions and balms on our hands even after washing. This barrier helps reduce trans-epidermal water loss and may help with superficial wound healing. Lanolin can increase absorption of active ingredients in our creastions, and it is great for creating a uniform consistency for a balm or ointment.
You might find anhydrous lanolin on your suppliers' shelves - this means it contains less than 0.25% water. It has an HLB of 10 - so if you're making your own emulsification blend, you'll have to do some calculating - and it is insoluble in water. It can, however, take up to double its weight in water without separating, so if you are making anhydrous products and want to add a little glycerin or a lovely hydrosol, you can do this and ensure it'll stay emulsified. Lanolin has a melting point of 36˚ to 42˚C, which means it'll melt a little higher than body temperature (around the same level as cocoa butter).
As lanolin is derived from animals, vegans and those with dietary restrictions may wish to avoid this product. As well, some people can be sensitive to this ingredient, so do a test before you go adding it to everything you make!
The adorable lamb picture above comes from my massage therapist's website. Loretta and Don have beautiful little lambs every year, both normal type and Icelandic. If you want to see more, click the links! They really are lovely and the Icelandic are born with tiny horns. They're so cute! Loretta takes amazing pictures as well - she took the ones I've posted of our wedding - but you might squee so much, your dog won't be able to hear you by the last photo!
Join me tomorrow for fun formulating nail care products with lanolin and lecithin!