What is Lanolin?

A magical oil made from rainbows and pixie dust. Okay, maybe not quite, but it does come close!

Kirsten Carriol Headshot

The older I’ve gotten, the more careful I am with what I put onto my skin. Perhaps cystic acne put the fear of God in me, perhaps the thought of impending wrinkles and fine lines make me cringe, perhaps the very idea that our skin, yes, our skin, drinks up 60 percent of whatever we slather onto it in 26 seconds or less, shed light on the alarming indifference I once placed on my body’s largest organ. Either way, gone is my naïveté, and in its place, an insatiable thirst to beautify with only the most natural, human and animal-friendly products.

Enter, lanolin–a truly magical and moisturizing ingredient I’ve never heard of until Kirsten Carriol, founder of Lano, talked about it at her US launch party with Net-a-Porter this past spring. Besides the very basics of rescuing chapped lips, it’s also commonly used to heal a variety of wounds.

A multi-purpose beauty product that does it all? Seriously, who would have thought that actually existed?

Step aside, petroleum jelly, lanolin is here to SLAY!

What is lanolin and how is it different from petroleum jelly?

Lanolin is a substance found naturally on the coats of sheep. Sheep need lanolin to keep their fleece protected and dry throughout the year. Lanolin is removed from shorn wool, after a sheep’s annual shear, without harm to the animal so it’s 100 percent developed by nature.

The molecular structure of lanolin closely resembles your skin’s lipids more so than any other ingredient on earth, natural or synthetic.

It’s also semi-occlusive which means that the substance is a brilliant, breathable barrier that helps hydrate your skin from within!

Lano has a super advanced grade of lanolin. Can you walk us through how that’s harvested?

Sheep are shorn every summer otherwise they get hot and their fleece gets heavy as it continues to grow. After shearing, the fleece gets washed and the lanolin is removed in the process.


Lanolin is essentially an oil on the wool that when washed, rises to the top of the water, and is skimmed off the top during the washing process.

The wool is then used by the garment industry to make jumpers and woolen fabrics. The lanolin, on the other hand, is purified at different levels for different uses. Industrial grade, or very raw lanolin, is used to lubricate machinery while medical grade, or hyper pure lanolin, is used in hospitals for wound healing.

At Lano, we use an ultra medical grade of lanolin that is three times more pure than regular medical grade. Not only is it the highest quality of lanolin in the world, but it’s also made exclusively for Lano.

When purifying lanolin, the main gist is to remove all impurities and pesticides that have also collected on a sheep’s wool–think tractor exhaust fumes.

Why is lanolin so highly praised in the medical world and prescribed for skin conditions like eczema?

Medical grade lanolin, the best grade of lanolin, is named rightfully so because it’s safe to use in a medical capacity. Every hospital in the western world uses this substance to heal surgical wounds and burn wounds. It can also double as newborn nursing cream!

Instead of settling for medical grade lanolin, I one-upped what already existed.

I wanted to create a product that offered all the benefits of lanolin without any of the negative traits that made lanolin, well, unappealing.

You don’t see lanolin of this quality in any other products on the market because the refining process is both timely and costly.

Because lanolin is semi-permeable, penetrates deep into multiple layers of the skin, and has a molecular structure that mimics human skin oils, it’s an excellent treatment for eczema where severe dryness is the number one problem.

Okay, but question: is lanolin thick or sticky? I’m always nervous about using products that will weigh on my skin and rub off on my clothes!

Our lanolin is completely colorless and odorless. It’s a non-sticky and creamy goodness that doesn’t weigh heavily on your skin so need to worry about that! A fine layer will absorb just fine!

Can you tell us a little bit more about your personal attachment to lanolin and how Lano came to be through your quest for the perfect lip balm?

Sure! I grew up around lanolin. My grandparents have a sheep farm in southern Australia so my family and I would always visit them during school holidays.

My father’s a DNA scientist who prefers to use natural and effective products. He’s been using lanolin on my siblings and me since we were kids! He taught me that the molecular structure of lanolin most closely resembles human skin lips, making it very compatible for skin uses.

As the years passed, I left the farm for bigger cities like London and Sydney. There, I discovered lip glosses, lipsticks, and lacquers. They were just so pretty, bright, and lovely. Surely they had to be even better than the lanolin I used when I was a child! Sadly, they weren’t.

It wasn’t until 2003 when I was was about to board a plane for my honeymoon that I realized the thought of dry air-conditioning, and the lack of lip balms to protect my lips from chapping, was extremely depressing. It dawned on me that nothing I’ve tried ever matched the results of lanolin. Why was there no product on the market that was simple, pure-lanolin-based, and nourishing? It was upon boarding that plane that I decided to create Lano and make lanolin a “hero” ingredient.

You have this magical way of curing chapped lips. It’s honestly better than any exfoliating scrub out there! Why does leaving Lano‘s Original 101 Ointment on for a couple minutes before slowly rubbing off the dead skin work so effectively?


The lanolin will absorb into the healthy skin as well as any dead skin layers sitting on top. It’s the dead skin layers that you want to gently remove without any hash scrubbing (which will damage your fragile lip skin).

The lanolin will make the dead skin layers soft and crumbly so when you do rub the ointment off, the dead skin cells break away more easily without grabbing healthy skin with it. It’s like rubbing your heels down after soaking in a hot bath. The white, swollen dead skin cells just rub away!

Besides lip care, what else can lanolin be used for? Do you have any beauty tips or tricks?

I use lanolin for everything! Our hero product, the Lano 101 Ointment has an endless amount of uses. Use it to heal cracked cuticles, tame flyaways, add a glossy look to your cheek bones, or keep your brows in place! The possibilities are endless!

I also use the 101 Ointment over the top of my lipstick for a glossy finish. It helps keep my lips hydrated.

Lano, however, extends beyond lip care to hands and all over. Our Everywhere Multi-Cream is a great daily moisturizer and our Golden Dry Skin Salve helps rescue seriously dry skin!

Last question! What’s next for Lano?

We just launched in 800 Ulta stores in the United States and have plenty of exciting news to come!


Do you have any beauty questions that need answering? Myths that require some investigating? Ask away in the comments below!