Lanolin, as described by Black’s Veterinary Dictionary, is the fat found in sheep’s wool, and is widely used in many creams and beauty products (491). However, there have been studies that show a link between lanolin and hair growth is possible.
The reason why lanolin has been used in various cosmetic products, including hair products, is that it provides essential oils to skin and hair, and thus helps skin and hair retain moisture. In fact, lanolin’s ability to be used for its moisturizing abilities has resulted in it and its derivatives being studied frequently in the cosmetics industry (Noguchi et. al, 2004).
More studies have been done on the effects of lanolin on the skin than on hair, however, as with most things that are good for the skin, lanolin has also been shown to moisturize and maintain hair (The Derm Review, n.d.). As an emollient, lanolin works best for people with scalp irritation and scalp dryness, as it returns moisture to the hair (The Derm Review, n.d.). In addition, one should look for lanolin based hair dyes, as they do not have the cancer causing effects of regular hair dyes (NewsRx, 2005).
It is worth noting though that lanolin is an animal based product, and thus is not something that can be used by vegans, and that some people have had allergic reactions to lanolin, resulting in rashes and other outbreaks (Jacob & Herro, 2013, p. 88). For people with lanolin sensitivity, who still want the moisturizing effects of lanolin, there are plant-based alternatives available.
- Boden, E. (2001). Black’s veterinary dictionary. Lanham, MD: Barnes & Noble Books.
- The Derm Review. (n.d.). The Dermatology Review. Retrieved August 12, 2015, from http://www.thedermreview.com/lanolin-cream/
- Jacob, S. E., & Herro, E. M. (2013). Practical patch testing and chemical allergens in contact dermatitis. London, UK: Springer-Verlag.
- NewsRx. (2005, May 23). Dermatology; Lanolin company announces cancer-free hair color technique. Health & Medicine Week, 530. Retrieved August 12, 2015, from www.proquest.com.
- Noguchi, Y., Terada, R., Ohki, J., Anpo, M., & Tamura, K. (2004). The function of polyglyceryl erucate/isostearate/ricinoleate [Abstract]. International Journal of Cosmetic Science Int J Cosmet Sci, 26(5), 265-266. doi:10.1111/j.1467-2494.2004.00231_2.x