Lana (wool) + oleum (oil) Lanolin is a wax that comes from the wool of animals. Usually, wool from sheep is used to extract lanolin. This is a naturally forming yellowish waxy substance. Lanolin is also called 'wool wax'. A regular ingredient in many cosmetic products, although loosing favour to vegetable products these days, it is mostly used as a moisturiser. Lanolin is an excellent emollient, better than petrolatum or glycerin. There is also a chemical similarity between human skin and lanolin. Pure lanolin will be yellowish-brown in colour.