Lanolin is the name given to the refined wool grease. Wool grease is a natural wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep covering the wool fibers. It protects the wool from the weather, waterproofing the fibers and avoiding moisture accumulation.
Wool grease is separated from the wool when it is scoured for use in the textile industry. The wool grease obtained is then refined to eliminate impurities and degradation products, improve odor and color. The result is a uniform and stable product.
Lanolin is characterized as a wax. It is a complex mixture of esters of steroidal and aliphatic alcohols with fatty acids. It is a semi-solid at room temperature, with an unctuous constitution, yellow color and characteristic soft smell. 90-95% of its composition corresponds to esters, 5-10% to free alcohols and it also contains small amounts of free fatty acids and hydrocarbons.
Due to its particular composition, lanolin imitates skin lipids, recovering and increasing its functions. Lanolin is emollient, moisturizing, emulsifying, re-greasing (re-lipidifying), conditioning agent.
Its most important applications are in creams, ointments, lotions, baby creams, cosmetic products, shampoos and hair conditioners. Industrially it is used in the textile and leather industry, in paints, in anti-corrosive products, plasticizers, lubricants and adhesives. It is also raw material for the production of high commercial value derivatives such as cholesterol and vitamin D3.