First allergy certified
 lanolin 
- natural „wrinkle-fighter” reinvented by Andrew Kawalec

First allergy certified
 lanolin 
- natural „wrinkle-fighter” reinvented by Andrew Kawalec

In the cosmetic field companies reveal revolutionary chemical solutions that should keep us looking young and beautiful. In this run for modern and perfect products, haven't we forgotten about old and efficient ingredients? Andrew Kawalec tells us about the wealth of lanolin and how to fit it into our daily hypoallergenic beauty-routine, even if we live along vegetarian ways of life!

Interview by: Zaneta Geltz

Zaneta Geltz: For thousand of years one of people’s main goals is to stay young. Can we buy youth?

Andrew Kawalec: In this fast moving world people are increasingly looking for a fast and easy solution for everything, and the marketing fraternity encourages this by trying to have us believe that with money we can buy anything. Reality is however that not everything can be bought. Men and women have always been searching for ways of staying young and keeping themselves looking younger. This is of course something that we cannot do as the simple reality is, life is a linear process and there is only one direction. Instead of trying to stop or reverse the process, we should start by getting up every morning and enjoying the feeling of being alive because after all: “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”.

However, what we can do is to slow down a little the speed of ageing in a natural way. Our skin is the biggest organ in our body, which accounts for approximately 16% of a person’s body weight. It regulates us, protects us and is alive, therefore it needs to be nourished from within and without. A healthy and balanced diet will feed your skin from within, whilst well chosen moisturising and hydrating products will help keep the skin soft, supple, full of life and fully fit to deal with all our daily challenges. In this way our skin grows and develops with us, in a natural way.


Z.G.: We are looking for new technologies and nano molecules, instead of getting back to basics proven to be true for centuries. Why is that?

A.K.: Every generation tries to improve on or advance on what the previous generation has been able to achieve. This is human nature and a natural and even necessary progression. Unfortunately this has given rise to the thought, and in some areas the attitude that everything new and developed now is modern and good, while everything that has passed is old and bad. This is simply not correct! As much as new we should not forget the wealth of wonderful things and treasures that have been learned and discovered in previous generations, tried and tested, and passed down from generation to generation.

Z.G.: What have made you to dig into the issue of such an old-fashioned ingredient as lanolin?

A.K.: I think it is fair to observe that lanolin has been neglected as an ingredient for over the last 20-30 years. Perhaps this is due to the negative perceptions of past allergies or more recent negativity to animal by-products and the popular vegan trend. Also, in my opinion, it has not been promoted by lanolin manufacturers in that time, and as a result it has been taken out of many old fashioned formulations and is absent in new formulations. If we don’t take over the role in lanolin manufacturing chain at an early stage, why should others do it?

I am passionate about lanolin. I would like to re-invent lanolin design, fit for the future and change to the highest possible standards. To bring back attention again to this wonderful and trusted natural ingredient, that has brought true benefits, and been caring to skin over generations. Lanolin has been used successfully by people for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians were using lanolin on their skin about 8000 years ago and its’ presence can be found in various cultures for the next millennia.

My first acquaintance with lanolin took place when I was 17 years old. In 1978 I had just left school and started my first ever job at a wool merchanting company in Bradford, England. At that time Bradford was rightly known as the wool centre of the world. Wool had played an important role in the development of the UK and indeed had brought great fortune to the UK over many hundreds of years. As an example - at the turn of the century in around 1900, Bradford had more millionaires than London!

At the first stage, I worked in a wool sample room. I had to send samples of wool to customers all around the world. To give this young new employee an idea of what wool is, I was sent to work in the wool sorting department for several months to gain first-hand wool experience. At that time there were 20 wool sorters employed to sort greasy wools, which came in after being bought at the weekly local British wool auctions. The sorters separated fine wool from coarse, long wool from short, took out undesirable vegetable matter (vegetation clusters and other contamination such as and urine and stained wool, etc.) to make required standard wool qualities in preparation of further processing.

I was allowed to work with Dixie, the head and the most experienced sorter. He was about 65 years old, a mild natured man with a lifetime experience in sorting wool. I remember at that time that his wrinkled face seemed to this 17 year old as extremely old or ancient, except for his hands. I still remember vividly to this day looking at his hands which, were pink and soft. I remember asking him: “why your hands are so pink and soft?”. He said to me: “That’s from the lanolin in the wool grease, I’ve been sorting wool since I was 14 years old, and there’s nothing better in the world for your skin than lanolin”.

After completing my wool training and specialization as an export salesman, I found more experience and employment in England and Germany in special fibres such as angora, silk, alpaca, cashmere and mohair. The need to travel and see the world became stronger. I worked as the sales director of the mohair spinning mill in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and then returned to the wool industry again in the Bremer Woll-Kaemmerei in Bremen, Germany. In 2009 self-employment called, as Bremer Wollhandelskontor (BWK) was formed with partners, with whom I still work with to this date in a consultant capacity.

My commercial involvement to lanolin started by accident in 2011. I was asked to help an ex-colleague of the BWK, and personal friend, as an Italian specialist. I was asked to help him to secure wool processing machinery available in Italy, through a complex tender development process for a Singaporean company that was building a new wool washing and combing factory in Malaysia. After 18 months we were successful and 212 x 40 foot containers of machinery went by sea to Malaysia.

After completing the project, I was asked to join the Singapore sales team of the lanolin company, responsible for key clients in Europe and later in North and South America and Africa. To help facilitate that business I formed in 2015 a company in Germany called Lankind GmbH and later after the co-operation with Singapore ceased in 2017, I formed my present company LanEsters GmbH end 2017, specialising in Lanolin and Cholesterol products.

Z.G.: Where lanolin is welcome and plays an important role?

A.K.: As mentioned before, lanolin has been around for thousands of years, but it was only commercially ”discovered” in the early 1900’s. At this time, it was noted that lanolin has special properties such as a moisturiser, emollient, emulsifier and binder. Rich in lipids – its’ dermatological structure was discovered similar to that produced by the sebaceous gland in human skin. It had also been noticed that lanolin forms a convenient suspension when mixed with water which can be easily absorbed through the skin, making it smooth and soft, and also helps prevent the skin from dehydration and the formation fissures. Lanolin also proved to be very useful in reducing wrinkles by boosting the elasticity of the skin and effectively supporting the skin barrier. As a result, lanolin had been extensively used since then in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics.

Main applications for lanolin include: anti-ageing creams, day creams, night creams, baby creams, lotions, cleansers, eye make-up, foundation creams, lipsticks, pressed powders, shaving creams, sunscreens, soaps, hair products, ointments, lip balm for chapped lips and breast creams for breastfeeding mothers. It has been tried and tested and has been making a real difference to skin over generations and should always be the preferred way to deter wrinkles, rather than choosing invasive and desperate skin changing “beauty operations”.

We should remember that using surgery damages the skin irreversibly.

Z.G.: Numerous ads are telling us about emollients to be the best for these purposes, but still, they contain non-organic chemicals. How can you explain the benefits of using lanolin?

A.K.: We see increasing mistrust by putting “chemicals” on the skin, and a strong return to natural products that actually do something. My organisation owns recent tests on our flagship lanolin product “Veggilanol Gold” showed up to 55% wrinkle depth reduction in 6 hours and up to 36% wrinkle width reduction in 6 hours. The same report also says that trans-epidermal water loss averaged 28% with a single application. This led the study to conclude that “treatment with VEGGILANOL GOLD preserves skin hydration due to the film-forming ability of lanolin”.


Z.G.: Is this raw material safe for people with sensitive skin?

A.K.: We are regularly asked if lanolin can be safely used on skin and similar products. Human nature - generally speaking - shows that bad things in the main come to the attention more and tend to be linger longer for that same reason. To understand where the safe ”question" comes from it is important to say that studies into lanolin allergies first appeared in the early 1950’s. An example of skin research done into lanolin at that time in a New York hospital research on skin hyposensitivity and lanolin was as follows: Patch tests were conducted on patients with “various dermatological ailments”. 12 people gave a positive reaction from 1,048 tests - meaning that the result was 1,14% of people with skin ailments showing allergy to 100% lanolin that was made over 65 years ago.

A much better and representative research was carried out by Clark, 1975 in Great Britain - a study on incidence and prevalence of positive patch-test reactions to lanolin and the its’ derivatives in general population. The survey was conducted in hospitals the UK (Wycombe) and Sweden (Lund and Gothenburg) and covered 825,000 people. Lanolin allergy (positive reactions) were only found in 1,46-8,75 cases per 1000 000.

To put this into context 27% of the adult population in Europe (18-74 years) suffer from skin allergy or Contact Dermatitis to one or more chemicals, it is 33.6 % women, 16.2 % men, 15.3% teenagers (16 years).
Chemical composition breakdown:

  • Metals 15,5 % (mostly: nickel, chrome)
  • Preservatives 6,2 %, (e.g,  Methylisothiazolinone /MIT)
  • Perfume 4,5%
  • Colouring (metals, p-phenylenediamine)
  • Plants
  • Rubber
  • Glue
  • Sunscreen

There are 1000 new MIT cases per year. It is in some wet wipes and paints, it remains in the air for 42 days after painting. Source: ALLERGYCERTIFIED, Copenhagen, Denmark - www.allergycertified.com

The time has come to look at it from a different perspective and break away from the past, especially since 1975. There has been significant progress in refining lanolin, which has now led to a much higher quality standard. In 2000 the European Pharmacopoeia also introduced pesticide residue limits in lanolin monograph. Today Lanolin Pharmacopoeia (2019) standards are well defined.

In my opinion, to ensure maximum quality assurance, it is of the highest importance to be certified by a trusted certifier. In 2019, for this reason LanEsters’ flagship product “Veggilanol Gold” anhydrous lanolin was the first raw material in the world to be AllergyCertified. We are now also in the process of having other grades assessed for AllergyCertified certification. It is LanEsters’ philosophy, that products, when applied to the skin - enter the bloodstream and must be used in the purest form available!

[VEGGILANOL GOLD is also Cosmos certified, and this together with other selected lanolin and lanolin derivatives are NPEO-free according to the DIN EN ISO 18218-1 standard test. NPEO's (Nonylphenol Ethoxylates) are widely used as surfactants for both the textile and leather industry.]

 

Z.G.: So allergic sufferers are safe, and what about vegetarian communities? Are they ready to accept animal-origin product?

A.K.: Vegetarianism is generally understood as the practice of refraining from eating meat from animals. Vegetarians are not against animals, on the contrary, there is a strong vegetarian philosophy of animal welfare and ethical treatment - we fully agree with that. Lest we also forget milk and eggs are widely considered as vegetarian products. And we are proud to say that all of our raw materials are of animal origin. Our entire range of lanolin and cholesterol products are derived from wool grease, obtained by the washing of wool and this wool is only shorn from live sheep. We are the first company in the world to receive vegetarian certification for its anhydrous lanolin, lanolin derivatives and cholesterol range. It is essential for us to emphasize clearly that with ethical treatment and welfare of all animals in the supply chain, processing of lanolin brings only positive aspects for humans and animals alike. We believe it is important to draw special attention to this in an effort to address and eliminate old reservations. We believe in the ethical treatment and welfare of all animals and this ethical treatment and welfare of animals is of fundamental importance in our own supply chain.

I have been personally involved in the wool sector since 1978, and in fact I am an original signatory to the Dumfries House Wool Declaration of 9th September 2016. For many years much has been done for the welfare of sheep around the world through the patronage of the IWTO (International Wool Textile Organisation), governing body of world textiles. To this matter I would highly recommend reading the IWTO’s concise summation of good practice principles for ethical wool sheep production. LanEsters are proud to be the first lanolin company to become an associate member of the IWTO.

Z.G.: Who might benefit from your inventions?

A.K.: “Veggilanol Gold” is ideal for natural cosmetic products, lanolin-rich formulations, cosmetic and pharmaceutical purposes, a wide variety of skin creams, including breast creams, baby creams, lotions, ointments, as well as lip care, plasters, shampoos, soaps and hair care products.

Last but not least for the marketing fraternity in their eternal quest for something new, due to our efforts, lanolin-based products can now for the first time be vegetarian certified, something that is currently not available in the World.

Z.G.: Do you have sheep in Germany or you derive the lanolin from abroad?

A.K.: There are sheep in Germany, but the amount they produce is relatively small (9700 tons approx. - IWTO estimate 2018) and also the lanolin yield is quite low. The most suitable origins for producing lanolin that we use in our supply chain are sheep from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America.


Z.G.: Are you using lanolin for yourself? How do you apply?

A.K.: I have been paying good attention to Dixie for a long time, I have been using moisturising creams since my “wool sorting days”. I use lanolin face cream daily and in the inclement winter months I use lanolin lip balm as protection. My wife tells me that I have the softest hands in the family!

Z.G: What is the most unusual use of lanolin you have experienced so far?

A.K.: There are different forms of lanolin and lanolin derivatives, for example anhydrous lanolin, lanolin wax, lanolin oil, lanolin alcohol, lanolin fatty acids to cholesterol. Lanolin and its derivatives are used in a very wide range of products and is incredibly versatile and truly unique amongst ingredients. Did you know that lanolin was used in the chewing gum base?

Apart from the previous applications mentioned earlier, lanolin and its derivatives are used for example for rustproof coatings and lubricants. Anti-barnacle repellent on propellers of ships, Baseball players use it to soften and break in their baseball gloves. Men use it for beard and moustache styling. It is used to make vitamin D3 for people who cannot absorb enough of it from sunlight. And the lanolin derivative cholesterol is used to feed shrimps as shrimps cannot produce the cholesterol needed to trigger the moulting process in order for them to be able to grow in size, which wild shrimp obtain as a natural part of their diet.

Z.G.: Considering planet-saving movements and social pressure to stop extracting fossil fuels (including petroleum received from oil fields), do you think consumers will rediscover lanolin as a sustainable, harmless hair and skin solution?

A.K.: Lanolin is a natural product that is a sustainable resource. It is renewable and biodegradable, sheep live in partnership with people, often living on land that is unsuitable for other forms of farming or use. As a raw material it is truly environmental-friendly, and if people learn to start caring and looking after our planet and ecology, then sheep will continue to be around and in partnership with us for many, many more years to come. 

Andrew Kawalec
Managing Director LanEsters GmbH and also consultant to wool top making specialists Bremer Wollhandelskontor GmbH in Bremen, educated as a textile technologist in Bradford, England. He is now spending his second period of time living in Germany since 2002. He started his sheep adventure when he was 17 year old in 1978. Travelling the world for the next 30 years as a wool, speciality fibre specialist (such as Cashmere, Silk, Angora, Mohair, Alpaca and Camelhair, and more recently Lanolin. He has learnt the importance of purity, supply chain partnerships and ethics in the wool industry and and the importance of animal welfare. His vision is to re-invent lanolin by making it as pure as possible and derived in the most ethical way, therefore documented his processing of lanolin with AllergyCertified toxicologists from Denmark and approved by Vegetarian Society. Contact: andrew.kawalec@lanesters.com

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