The word sebum has a bad rap in skincare because it conjures up images of a greasy complexion and breakouts. But there is such a thing as good sebum, which is oil that keeps skin in a balanced state so that its barrier functions are not disrupted. Like how cod fish liver oil, which is rich in omega fatty acids, is good for health, good sebum is required to maintain the oil-water ratio of skin at its optimum level, to reduce what we call transepidermal water loss so that skin doesn’t get dry, scaly, rough and itchy.
It is not enough to just pile on the hydrating skincare when your skin doesn’t have enough good sebum to effectively lock in the moisture. That’s where lanolin comes in handy.
What is lanolin?
Lanolin is a type of animal-derived fat. Essentially, it is sebum that comes from sheep. We know that sounds revolting, but hear us out. Lanolin is sebum that is produced by the oil glands of sheep. It helps keep their skin and wool conditioned and water-resistant, and is generally extracted from the wool after the sheep is sheared. So, lanolin products can be cruelty-free, if the product is not tested on animals. It is considered a natural ingredient, but it is not vegan-friendly.