Classic Bells > Soapy stuff > Lanolin in soap

Lanolin in Soap

For the past several years, I've been making a soap with lanolin and whole egg, and I like it a lot. I did a short video about making this particular soap.

Lanolin is one of the few ingredients I have tried that leaves a faint, but perceptible film on the skin after washing, although it will not replace the need for lotion if you have dry or irritated skin.

You will see the most benefit from adding lanolin to a reliable recipe that is mild to your skin and has good longevity, decent hardness, and nice lather. Lanolin is not a panacea -- it cannot fix a soap that is too harsh or drying.

Lanolin sensitivity

A few people are sensitive to lanolin, although research has shown the sensitivity is related more specifically to the "wool alcohol" found in conventional lanolin and most often occurs when lanolin is used on damaged skin. (1)

If you have concerns about this, you can purchase hypoallergenic lanolin. One brand of hypoallergenic lanolin that is fairly easy to find in the US is Lanisoh.

Regardless of the type of lanolin you use, be sure to disclose this ingredient in your ingredients list so consumers can make an informed decision.

I use conventional lanolin in regular bath soap to control costs. I use hypoallergenic lanolin in shave soap. Shaving can irritate and abrade tender facial skin, and shave soap remains on the skin longer than bath soap does. It makes sense to me to use hypoallergenic lanolin in this type of product .

Adding lanolin to a soap recipe

I think lanolin performs well at 2% to 5% of the total weight of fats. My latest lanolin-based bath and shave soaps contain 5% lanolin, and I am pleased with this amount.

Higher amounts of lanolin may leave a sticky, waxy residue on the skin and make the bar overly soft and reduce lather. If you want to try lanolin over 5%, I suggest making a small test batch first to learn how the soap performs.

Lanolin can be added to any soap recipe you like. It does react with lye, so be sure to include it as a fat, so your soap reciple calculator will calculate the correct amount of alkali (NaOH or KOH) for the recipe.

Working with lanolin

Room-temperature lanolin is thick and very sticky, but it liquefies easily in warm water. Use the stove or microwave to heat a small bowl or pan of water until steamy hot. Warm the container of lanolin in this warm water bath (bain marie) until the lanolin becomes more fluid and easier to pour.

If usng a cold process method to make your soap, thoroughly stick blend the warmed lanolin into your fats before adding lye solution. Any lumps of lanolin in the soap batter may remain lumps in your finished soap.

Lanolin is a well behaved ingredient. In my experience using it in cold-process soap, it does not cause ricing or acceleration and it does not cause the soap to heat up during saponification.


(1) Jensen, Lisa Mai Moller, and Daniel, Ewa. Chemical of the month: Lanolin. Allergy Certified. Version dated 7 January 2019.