Please Pass the Lanolin

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up my mom always slathered my face with petroleum jelly before I went out to play in the snow. This helped prevent wind burn and chapping, and up until about a year ago, I used petroleum jelly regularly to protect my skin when I exercised outdoors. Even if petroleum jelly is harmless, I found a better alternative for facial and lip care at my local health food store.

Depending on the source, some people would argue that lanolin is potentially more harmful than petroleum jelly. Both have to undergo a refining process, but one comes from oil (hence the name petroleum) and one comes from sheep’s wool. The lanolin advocates suggest there could be carcinogens in petroleum jelly. The petroleum jelly advocates suggest there could be pesticides in the lanolin (from treating sheep’s wool for ticks, lice, etc.). If you are not satisfied with the available information, make your own decision on what’s better for you. Personally, I use these products so infrequently that I’m not concerned about the potential exposure from either.

From a results standpoint, I am really pleased with the lanolin. Though it feels like I’m getting ready to do a wax job on my face, the lanolin provides really good coverage without the greasy feel of petroleum jelly. I’ve noticed that, if I wipe my nose during a jog, the petroleum jelly usually wipes off whereas the lanolin maintains the protective layer. The lanolin also maintains a silky smooth feel even after I shower and wash my face. For someone who is sensitive to smell, the lanolin is the obvious choice. And as a “ChapStick® addict,” there is no other recipe for homemade lip balm that works better for me than pure lanolin. I literally just heat up a tablespoon of it in a small PYREX® dish on the warming center of my stove and pour it into empty lip balm containers.

Though I have sensitive skin and all of the attributes of someone who is at high risk for rosacea, I haven’t had problems using petroleum jelly or lanolin. I’m actually more concerned about the long-term effects of outdoor exposure (thanks to a recent diagnosis of “surfer’s eye”). If you have any concerns, you should definitely seek the advice of a professional before changing your skin care routine. If not, I highly recommend trying lanolin. I used it this morning when my local area was still under a high-wind weather warning, and I am thankful not to have a hint of wind burn or any redness from the wind or the cold temperatures. Until I come across research that suggests I’m doing more harm than good, please pass the lanolin!

©, March 3, 2018


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