Lanolin, also known as wool fat is the sheep equivalent of sebum (the stuff that makes our skin and hair greasy). It consists of liquid waxes and is produced by the sheep to give it some protection from the elements. You see, unlike us humans sheep can’t usually just put on some clothes or pop up and umbrella when it rains therefore their coat has to be able to protect them from a variety of weather conditions. Think about it like this, wool is a great natural fibre and one that us humans have been using for many many years to keep us warm. However, try making a swimsuit out of pure wool and it soon becomes heavy and waterlogged.  That is because by the time we get the wool, the lanolin is all gone so the wool fibres have no protective barrier around them and they become soaked. Lanolin acts as a waterproof barrier, allowing sheep to be out in the rain all day without getting weighed down and cold. AMAZING!

So, what good is lanolin to us?  Well, anyone who has spent time in a shearing shed will know that the grease that comes off the flease leaves the shearers hands soft and silky (not very macho but hey……).  It also ensures that the blades and metal structures in the shed remain shiny and rust free (again, due to its water repellent properties).  So lanolin is a great natural moisturiser, lubricant and rust stopper!

Back in the day, sheep farmers would just take it for granted that they would have silky smooth skin after handling the fleeces.  References to lanolin can be found in the bible as well as in ancient Greek and Roman […]