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What is lanolin oil?

Lanolin oil is a secretion from sheep’s skin. It’s similar to human sebum, an oil secreted by the sebaceous glands that you may notice particularly on your nose.

Unlike sebum, lanolin contains no triglycerides. Lanolin is sometimes referred to as “wool fat,” but the term is misleading because it lacks triglycerides needed to be considered a fat.

The purpose of lanolin is to condition and protect sheep’s wool. This conditioning property is why the substance is now widely used in human cosmetics, skin care, and hair products.

Lanolin oil is extracted by putting sheep’s wool through a centrifuge machine that separates the oil from other chemicals and debris. The process is performed after the sheep is sheared so the extraction of lanolin causes no harm to sheep. That may not be quite true in some cases of shearing but on the whole the sheep is shorn efficiently and quickly without causing cuts or injury.

If a sheep goes too long without being shorn, a number of problems occur. The excess wool impedes the ability of sheep to regulate their body temperatures. This can cause sheep to become overheated and die. Urine, feces and other materials become trapped in the wool, attracting flies, maggots and other pests. It also creates a clean environment for newborn lambs.

You may already be using products that contain lanolin oil without realizing it. Many medicine cabinet staples including lip balms, lotions, and good old vaseline contain the amber-colored substance loved for its moisturizing ability. Many vitamin D supplements also contain this product too along with some fortified cereals.

Categorized: General

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