Answer: Actually they are both right. Lanolin is extracted from the wool sheared off from sheep. It indeed shares many characteristics of human skin oil and is definitely a very effective emollient for both skin and hair. As a byproduct of wool, this oil is both inexpensive and wonderfully sustainable. Wool ( and lanolin) can be harvested without harming the sheep. Nice.
The Bad News About Lanolin
But lanolin has a dark side. There is definately a group of people who have a true allergy to this popular moisturizing ingredient. It can cause red bumps and patches that are both itchy and unattractive. When used as a hair care product, allergic reactions can cause scarring on the scalp and even hair loss.Lanolin is also a well-known acne trigger. It tends to clog up pores that proceed to whiteheads and breakouts. Lanolin rich conditioners and pomades can provoke long standing acne, especially along the hairline and forehead.
Because it is inexpensive and an effective emollient, it is found in any widely used bran including Eucerin, L’Oreal, Luriderm, St Ives, Chapstick, and even Desitin diaper rash. Well known lanolin free brands incude Aveeno and derma e.Lanolin is an equally popular ingredient in hair care products including those from Alberto VO5, Nexxus, Tresemme, Mane and Tail and L’Oreal. For soft hair and acne free skin look for conditioners with silicone rather than lanolin. If you want a more natural option, look for products with Moroccean or Jojoba seed oil.
To bottom line it, lanolin is a safe and affordable ingredient– if your skin can handle it. If itchy red spots or acne appears after using a moisturizing product, this oil is not your friend.