Lanolin or Lanolide

Published on Healthy Chemistry  

Lanochemistry is a technological sector of primary and persistent cosmetic and dermopharmaceutical interest. It is based on wool fat and provides scores of lanolin derivatives after suitable purification, fractionating, extraction, hydrolysis, hydrogenation, ethoxylationacetylation, propoxylation, etc., for a wide range of topical preparations. Lanolin remains, however, of basic interest as a raw material. Unfortunately, this natural compound, which according to the literature is never inconvenience-free, has of late given rise to new problems because of its exposure to environmental pollution caused by the world wide spreading of pesticides, antivermins, fungicides and herbicides. These are substances that sheep are in contact with daily and that cause permanent contamination of their wool and subsequently of the lanolin derived from it.

The need for lanolin to be 100% free from chemical pollutants which would be harmful to the skin even in slight quantities, has led the lanolin industry itself to look for, design and produce alternative reconstituted lanolin bases. The same properties must be as close as possible to the complex natural mixture but with no impurities and hence with no toxic, irritative or sensitizing effect. This research has led to a wide range of lanolin substitutes which, however, do not always have the same properties as the natural product. Vevy Europe, thanks to its longstanding experience in basic and applied research on wool fats and their derivatives (for which it has been granting international know-how licenses since as far back as 1960) has been engaged in the development and large scale production in its own plants of a substance called Lanolide since 1980. As far as practical application purposes are concerned, Lanolide is identical and perhaps better than the best lanolin. Over the decades Lanolide has gained a strong foothold among most of the important European users. What are the characteristics that the formulating engineer requires for lanolin? First of all the typical binding and water absorption capacity which derive from the peculiar "plasticizing" action of lanolin. As compared to lanolin, Lanolide is also far less sensitive to oxidative processes. Lanolide is a compact, ivory coloured mass, more thready than lanolin and, in particular, having only a very mild smell. These features are of paramount importance for good quality and acceptability (even from an olfactory standpoint) of the finished product. A great deal of attention has been paid to safety and hence to the pharmacotoxicologic, dermopharmacologic and clinical testing of Lanolide. As for hydrophilia, Lanolide is perfectly interchangeable with lanolin and can therefore be used in the same application sectors.