Vegan Alternatives to Lanolin in Homemade Beauty Products

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Lanolin is an emollient used in numerous beauty products, including lotions and creams. Though emollients don’t introduce moisture into the skin, they form a barrier preventing moisture loss. Emollients may also act as a base for perfume and pigment in cosmetics. Because lanolin is derived from the sebaceous glands of sheep, vegetarians and vegans sometimes prefer to use a substitute for homemade beauty and skin care formulations.

Shea Butter

Plant-derived shea butter performs similarly to lanolin in homemade beauty products. The butter is extracted from the seeds of the shea tree, found in the African savanna. In addition to its emollient properties, shea butter’s high content of cinnamic acid and vitamins A and C offers protection from UV damage. Uses of shea butter include soothing dry skin, preventing stretch marks and relieving discomfort from insect bites.

Rice Bran Oil

Rice bran oil, a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine and skin care products, provides a healthful alternative to lanolin. The oil contains high levels of antioxidants, including vitamin E. Rice bran oil can be whipped with cosmetic-grade butters to provide a creamy consistency. Rice bran oil is slightly heavy, making for longer absorption time, but because it is completely absorbed into the skin, it leaves no oily residue.

Capaucu Butter

Capaucu butter, pressed from the seeds of the eastern Amazonian capaucu tree, provides a natural and creamy substitute for lanolin. The butter is a mainstay in Brazilian beauty products. Popular for its versatility and stability, the butter is used in anti-wrinkle creams and as ointment bases. Sweet-smelling capaucu butter is also marketed as an ingredient in confections and food products.

Mineral Oil

Cosmetic-grade mineral oil provides a versatile base for homemade beauty and skin care recipes. The petroleum-based oil is purified and refined for use in cosmetic-grade products. Mineral oil, gentle enough for use in baby oil, acts as an emollient, providing a protective barrier while it locks in moisture.