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greasy, yellow substance extracted from wool. When purified, it is used as a base for ointments and creams, as a lubricant, and in finishing and preserving leather. It is also a constituent of some varnishes and paints. Chemically, lanolin is chiefly a mixture of cholesterol and the esters of several fatty acids. With water it forms an emulsion. As a waste product in wool processing, it is known also as wool wax, wool fat, or wool grease.



wool fat, an animal wax obtained by rinsing sheep’s wool; a viscous, brownish-yellow mass.

Lanolin differs from other waxes in its high sterol content (in particular, cholesterol). It is readily absorbed into the skin and has an emollient effect. Lanolin is widely used in the preparation of various cosmetics (for example, skin creams). In medicine it serves as a base for ointments and as a skin softener (in combination with an equal amount of petroleum jelly).


The hydrous sheep's-wool wax (primarily cholesterol esters of higher fatty acids) derived as a by-product from the preparation of raw wool for the spinner; used as a base for emollients in cosmetics and shampoos.


, lanoline
a yellowish viscous substance extracted from wool, consisting of a mixture of esters of fatty acids: used in some ointments