Recently the ever-glamorous actress Joanna Lumley has attributed her decade-defying skin to a budget friendly beauty product that can be picked up on the high street for as little as £1.29 a pot. The skin savior in question is Astral Original All Over Face and Body cream. Instantly recognisable by its classic blue packaging, this marvelous multitasking moisturiser has been earning its place in bathroom cabinets across Britain since the early 1950s!
So, what is the secret of this longstanding, low-cost skincare stalwart’s success?
My guess would be that it’s down to the fact that one of its main ingredients is lanolin. A by-product of wool production lanolin (or wool wax or wool fat as it is also known) is the substance naturally produced by sheep, which helps to repel water, and protect their coats. The collection of lanolin is not harmful to the animal, when the sheep is shorn each year; the lanolin is extracted and refined. It is then cleaned and purified for use in cosmetics.
However, Astral is not the only lanolin-containing product with legions of fans and celebrity endorsements. It is also a main ingredient in Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream, which is one of the all-time bestselling beauty products, and a Make-up Artist must-have. Newer to the scene is cult product Lanolips, which was developed by Australian beauty entrepreneur Kirsten Carriol who, after struggling to find the perfect lip balm, realised that she hadn’t encountered a single product that moisturised as well as the lanolin her parents used on her lips and skin as a child. Carriol also recalled her father (a pioneering and award winning Professor in the science of DNA) explaining to her that the molecular structure of lanolin was ‘the secret to moisturisation’ – the rest is international multi award winning history!
Now I’m a relatively recent convert to Lanolips, but I can categorically state that the The Original 101 Ointment is hands down the best lip balm I have ever used, mostly due to the fact that it offers long lasting moisturisation, so doesn’t leave you feeling like you need to reapply it every ten minutes, like many others do – and I also happen to adore it’s Old Hollywood glamour style retro packaging!
But don’t just take my word for it, here’s the lowdown on why skin loves lanolin:
Lanolin closely resembles human skins own lipid structure, making it highly compatible for use on the skin.
It forms a semi-occlusive breathable barrier, meaning it doesn’t ‘smother’ the skin, thus allowing the skin to continue to carry out its essential biological functions.
Lanolin is a humectant, and once absorbed into the skin it is able to hold at least twice it’s own weight in water.
It not only moistuirises, but also acts as a barrier to help retain moisture in the skin, thus eliminating the need for endless reapplication of products.
It is particularly effective on very dry skin, or skin that has become thickened or developed callouses, and can be used to soften rough and cracked heels, which is something many of us may be mindful of at the moment as we approach sandal season!
Lanolin is not only used in cosmetic products. The healthcare industry use medical grade lanolin as a base for ointments, and its inclusion assists in the delivery of medicinal ingredients to the skin.
While there’s no doubt that lanolin is a fantastic moisturising ingredient, some people prefer not use animal products, so if you are looking for a plant-based alternative to lanolin I recommend choosing products that contain coconut or Agan oil, or shea butter.
Finally, a word of caution – As lanolin is derived from sheep’s wool, people with wool allergies should not use products containing lanolin. It may also cause irritation for those with sensitive skin (as can any cosmetic ingredient) so prior to the use of any lanolin cream a small test patch should be done to check for any adverse reaction, such as redness or itching. If any reaction occurs the product should not be used.