Unique Performance and Wide Applications
Lanolin's role in nature is to protect wool and skin against the ravages of climate and the environment; it also seems to play a role in skin (integumental) hygiene. Lanolin and its many derivatives are used extensively in products designed as high value cosmetics for the protection, treatment and beautification of human skin and health care sectors. Lanolin is also found in lubricants, rust-preventative coatings, shoe polish, and other commercial products.
Modern analytical methods have revealed lanolin possesses a number of important chemical and physical similarities to human stratum corneum lipids;the lipids which help regulate the rate of transepidermal water loss and govern the hydration state of the skin.
Cryogenic scanning electron microscopy has shown that lanolin, like human stratum corneum lipids, consists of a mass of liquid crystalline material. Cross-polarised light microscopy has shown the multilamellar vesicles formed by lanolin are identical to those formed by human stratum corneum lipids. The incorporation of bound water into the stratum corneum involves the formation of multilamellar vesicles.
Skin bioengineering studies have shown the durational effect of the emollient (skin smoothing) action produced by lanolin is very significant and lasts for many hours. Lanolin applied to the skin at 2mg/cm2 has been shown to reduce roughness by about 35% after one hour and 50% after two hours, with the overall effect lasting for considerably more than eight hours. Lanolin is also known to form semiocclusive (breathable) films on the skin. When applied daily at around 4 mg/cm2 for five consecutive days, the positive moisturising effects of lanolin were detectable until 72 hours after final application. Lanolin may achieve some of its moisturising effects by forming a secondary moisture reservoir within the skin.
The barrier repair properties of lanolin have been reported to be superior to those produced by both petrolatum and glycerin. In a small clinical study conducted on volunteer subjects with terribly dry hands, lanolin was shown to be superior to petrolatum in reducing the signs and symptoms of dryness and scaling, cracks and abrasions, and pain and itch. In another study, a high purity grade of lanolin was found to be significantly superior to petrolatum in assisting the healing of superficial wounds.
Lanolin is an extremely effective emollient in restoring and maintaining the all important hydration (moisture balance) of the stratum corneum, and so prevents drying and chapping of the skin. Equally important, it does not alter the skin's normal transpiration. Lanolin has been shown to cause the water in the skin to build up to its normal level of 10-30%, by retarding without completely inhibiting trans-epidermal moisture loss. Lanolin has the unique property of absorbing twice its own weight of water. Lanolin has the physical properties of increasing adhesion to dry skin, and forming protective films on the skin. Lanolin is compatible with most fats and waxes used in cosmetics and pharmaceutical preparations. Lanolin is self emulsifying, producing very stable w/o emulsions with water and is often used in this hydrous form.
It is frequently used in protective baby skin treatment and as a treatment for sore nipples in breastfeeding mothers. Lanolin is also used in lip balm products. For some people, it can irritate the lips.
Lanolin is used commercially in many industrial products ranging from rust-proof coatings to lubricants.Some sailors use lanolin to create slippery surfaces on their propellers and stern gear to which barnacles cannot adhere. The water-repellent properties make it valuable as a lubricant grease where corrosion would otherwise be a problem.
Baseball players often use it to soften and break in their baseball gloves (shaving cream with lanolin is popularly used for this).
Anhydrous lanolin is also used as a lubricant for brass instrument tuning slides.
Lanolin can also be restored to woolen garments to make them water and dirt repellent, such as for cloth diaper covers.
A flaxseed oil-based lubricant commonly known as “wool wax” used to polish wood furniture is unrelated to lanolin; its name comes from its being a paste wax applied using steel wool.
Lanolin is used with alcohol mixed at 110 F temp 2/98 % ratio for brass lubricant in ammunition reloading process.
Lanolin, when mixed with ingredients such as Neatsfoot oil, beeswax and glycerine (Glycerol), is used in various leather treatments.
Lanolin is approved for food additive use, for an exmple, plasticizer for rubber articles coming in contact with food, plasticizer for Chewing Gum Base or surface lubricant for food contact.
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