What does it do?
Softens and hydrates the skin

What’s it used for?
Dry, cracked skin and lips

How do I use it?
Up to several times per day

Potential drawbacks
Can cause allergic contact dermatitis
Can block pores

Evidence rating

Lanolin has been used for thousands of years to soften and hydrate the skin. It has withstood the test of time, and is still a popular ingredient in skincare today. However, it can be a cause of allergic reactions, and as it’s sourced from sheep wool, it’s not suitable for those looking for vegan skincare.

What is it, and what does it do?

Lanolin is an oil produced by sheep, and is sourced from sheep’s wool. It’s an occlusive and emollient type of moisturiser, which softens and smooths the skin and reduces water loss. 

Why should I use it? 

Lanolin is useful for those with dry skin, and is often used for dry lips as well. Traditionally, it has been used for cracked nipples and nappy rash, but given the potential for allergic contact dermatitis, it may be best avoided in these delicate areas. 

How should I use it?

Lanolin can safely be used up to several times per day by most people. It’s safe to use with most other ingredients. 

What are the potential drawbacks of lanolin?

Lanolin can be a cause of allergic contact dermatitis. If you’re finding it’s making your skin red or irritated, it may be worth discussing undergoing patch testing with your dermatologist to find out if you’re allergic. Lanolin can also be comedogenic, meaning it blocks pores. It’s best avoided by those with oily, acne-prone skin.

Miest RY, Yiannias JA, Chang YH, Singh N. Diagnosis and prevalence of lanolin allergy. Dermatitis. 2013 May-Jun;24(3):119-23.


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Spotlight on Skin was created by award-winning Melbourne-based dermatologist, Dr Julia Rhodes.

Julia knows first-hand how overwhelming the skincare world can be, and that’s with over 10 years of experience practicing dermatology. Given that even she gets overwhelmed, she appreciates how hard it can be for those of you without a scientific background to make sense of all the information available, and choose products that are right for your skin…