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© 1993 Society of Cosmetic Chemists
Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, Vol. 44, No. 4, 181-195

Investigations into biomechanisms of the moisturizing function of lanolin
E. W. Clark , I. Steel



A study of the lanolin\/human stratum corneum system has been made, both in vitro and in vivo , to investigate where lanolin absorbed by skin lies within the tissues, and to determine possible mechanisms of the moisturizing action. Skin treated with lanolin rendered electron-opaque by lipophilic doping with either lead lanolate or lead oleate was examined by freeze-fracture and transmission electron microscopy of tissue specimens in order to identify the location and state of lanolin within the stratum corneum. Evidence was found that most of the electron-opaque material, presumed to be doped lanolin, occupied intercellular spaces down as far as the stratum granulosum, replacing natural lipid structures lost during sample preparation. In some cases applied material had penetrated into corneocytes and also appeared to have been taken up into the lipid strata of some trilaminar cell envelopes, some of which remained intact. Lanolin appeared to have a special affinity for regions of cell junction. Although this could possibly have been lead marker which had migrated, there appears to be no clear reason why the marker should have greater affinity for natural skin lipids than for lanolin. There was further evidence that lanolin within intercellular spaces had spontaneously emulsified epidermal water as a w\/o emulsion with a droplet size of approximately 40 nm, thus providing a possible moisture reservoir.

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© 1993 Society of Cosmetic Chemists
Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists