229: Lanolin Allergy + Vitamin D

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I have to be honest – lanolin can be a real pain for anyone who’s allergic to it.

If you’ve never heard of lanolin and you’re struggling with mystery “contact” dermatitis, it could be worthwhile asking your dermatologist or allergist to do a patch test.

While lanolin allergies aren’t that common, they are tricky to navigate since lanolin is not required to be labeled and can hide quite sneakily in products you probably take daily (and would never suspect).

Since I’m all about helping people connect the dots, this seems like the perfect opportunity to discuss lanolin and its connection with vitamin D.

I know you’ll find this fascinating, so get ready to do a quick dive into lanolin – a commonly used ingredient used in popular skincare products and daily supplements.

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In this episode:

  • What is lanolin (and where does it come from)?
  • How would you find out if you are allergic to it?
  • Where it is found in skincare
  • Lanolin + vitamin D issue
  • Other names for lanolin
  • Extensive (but not complete) list of products containing lanolin


Research shows an increase in sensitization between 2004 and 2015 with data from 2019 showing that a lanolin allergy impacted up to 1.2% of those in the test group.

Lanolin isn’t a required allergen to be listed on labels which is why it hides in so many products!


Vitamin D capsules on a plate with flowers

Lanolin Allergy + Vitamin D (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Welcome back to episode #229 of the Healthy Skin Show!

Today we’re going to dive into an interesting topic so – have you ever heard of a substance called Lanolin?

Most people haven’t unless they somehow end up with an allergy to it. And even then, mistakes can be made about what it’s in meaning that you could still be coming in contact with it regularly without knowing it.

And that’s a big problem because if you have a true IgE allergy to something, it’s best to avoid it since it can make things like eczema worse if it’s a trigger for you.

Typically this allergy would be identified by an allergist through patch testing though sometimes some people may put two and two together themselves!

Either way, it’s worth considering since you can come into contact with this specific allergen both externally and internally.


Herd of sheep

What is Lanolin?

So what’s lanolin?

Lanolin is produced by the sebaceous glands of sheep to help protect their wool, but it specifically differs from human sebum in that it lacks triglycerides.(1)

It is extracted from the wool after a sheep is shorn so there is no direct harm done to sheep in order for us to have lanolin as an ingredient that is often added to various creams, other skincare products (like cracked lip products and nipple creams for breastfeeding moms) AND even oral supplements (more on that in a moment).(1)

That said, there are ethical concerns about how sheep are raised, so if that is something that you care about, you can read more about it here.

Before you panic, a lanolin allergy is not very common, but it does happen.

Older papers like one I found from 1998 claim that a lanolin allergy is “a myth created mainly by overzealous professional patch testers.”(2)

But we know that isn’t true as more people have become sensitized to lanolin especially when looking at research showing an increase in sensitization between 2004 and 2015.(3)

According to a study published in 2019, a lanolin allergy impacted up to 1.2% of those in the test group and another paper suggests that a lanolin allergy may be worth exploring for children with eczema.(4,5)

Also if you seem to react to wool clothing, it could be a possible (but not guaranteed) sign that lanolin might be an issue.


Skincare products

Lanolin In Skincare

In terms of skincare, lanolin is considered to be an emollient and can help your skin retain more water by up to 20-30%.(6)

But you can develop contact dermatitis to it (and as previously mentioned, an allergy to it could make your eczema worse).

Other names for lanolin include:(7,8,9)

  • wool alcohols ointment BP
  • lanolin alcohols
  • Amerchol L-101
  • Vilvanolin L-101
  • Wool fat
  • adeps lanae
  • anhydrous lanolin
  • wool wax
  • wool grease
  • Alapurin
  • Ritalan

And a ton more which you can see through this official website.

To be honest with you, lanolin is in a lot of things that you come into contact with daily. And because I have clients who have an allergy to lanolin, it’s one reason that none of the Quell skincare contains lanolin.

But you should be aware that some very popular brands use lanolin.

For example, Aquaphor and Eucerin both contain lanolin (here’s a letter published in a dermatology journal about this issue).

Here is a really detailed list of products that contain Lanolin from the Environmental Working Group as well as a great commentary piece about lanolin as well.

Again, I’m not in any way saying lanolin is bad… but it could be something that makes things worse for someone with a lanolin allergy.


Vitamin D food sources and capsules

Lanolin + Vitamin D

You probably don’t know this, but there’s a connection between lanolin and supplemental Vitamin D.

It’s not something that’s really easy to find out because lanolin isn’t an allergen that’s required to be listed on labels.

And it explains why many supplements such as multivitamins and Vitamin D (that’s not derived from fish) aren’t vegan supplements (since lanolin is derived from animals).

Lanolin is a source of Vitamin D often used by the supplement industry.

I came to learn this when I was working on my multivitamin formulation because I didn’t understand why the final product wouldn’t be vegan.

Turns out, the Vitamin D available wasn’t vegan because it was derived from lanolin.

And so if you have a lanolin allergy, you have to look for a multivitamin (if it contains Vitamin D) as well as Vitamin D supplements that are explicitly marked vegan otherwise you’re consuming something with lanolin in it.

Vegan vitamin D is commonly derived from algae or lichen, but don’t be surprised if you find your options are more limited because there isn’t a huge selection at this time to pick from and it may be a bit more expensive.

And if you’re working with a practitioner, please alert them about this issue with Vitamin D since they may not be aware of the lanolin-Vitamin D connection. Remember, very few supplements will explicitly state that their Vitamin D is from lanolin.

Just a reminder because I recognize that people listen to the Healthy Skin Show hoping to discover something that could be part of their skin rash journey – but keep in mind that I’m not saying everyone has an allergy to Lanolin nor do you need to avoid it if you do not have an allergy.

Nor am I saying that vegan Vitamin D is somehow better or not as good as lanolin-derived Vitamin D.

I’m simply presenting options for you so that you can make more informed choices and have more informed conversations with your practitioners.

If you’ve got any questions or thoughts to share about this, leave a comment below so I can address them.

Make a point to share this episode with someone you know who is or may be struggling with a lanolin allergy to help them know how to navigate the world of avoiding lanolin.

Thank you so much for tuning in and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode!


Reference books on shelves


  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/lanolin-oils
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9771981/
  3. https://www.practiceupdate.com/content/prevalence-of-contact-allergy-to-lanolin-is-increasing/58729
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6593808/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27861990/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5849435/
  7. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/574162_4
  8. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/allergy-to-wool-alcohols
  9. https://chem.nlm.nih.gov/chemidplus/rn/8006-54-0

Research shows an increase in sensitization between 2004 and 2015 with data from 2019 showing that a lanolin allergy impacted up to 1.2% of those in the test group.

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.

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