What would you do if your Australian-based beauty brand's website got 50% of its traffic from the United States? You would start selling your products stateside, of course. That's exactly what Kirsten Carriol, the founder of cult-favorite brand Lano
, is doing — at Net-A-Porter, no less. On March 16, her collection of lanolin-based products, including multipurpose balms, creams, and lip treatments, will finally be available in the U.S.
So, what is lanolin anyway? The waxy substance is excreted sheep sebum found in wool. It's extracted from the sheep's fleece when they are sheared each year. (Obviously not recommended for vegans or those with wool allergies.) It might sound strange to some at first, but Carriol and her family swear by it. And to those in Australia, the natural product has always been the end-all, be-all for everybody's moisturizing needs.
"Lanolin is an iconic ingredient in Australia — it's part of our heritage of being a farming country," says Carriol. "We've got a term called 'off the sheep's back,' which means our culture was developed off the sheep's back — from wool and farming. So [lanolin] has a special place in our heart; it's an ingredient everyone knows."
Though lanolin can be found in some mainstream products, it's not as well-known in other places as it is in Australia. So, in 2009, Carriol — who says she's never come across an ingredient, nor a product, that has lived up to the wonders of lanolin — set out to bring it to the larger world. She first launched Lano in Australia, eventually moving over to the U.K.
While Lano's popularity has to do with its moisturizing effects, of course, it also has to do with the natural and cruelty-free ethos behind the brand. Some of the concerns about lanolin have been that the sheep are eating food that contains GMOs or that their fur is sprayed with pesticides, but Lano is completely all-natural — and that really
As Carriol explains, the guidelines for who can slap on an "all-natural" stamp on a product are much stricter Down Under than in the U.S. "You can't have certain claims, and if you have a natural percentage, it has to be true…We have all of our percentages on our product and we have to back that up with paperwork, with ingredient listings, with raw materials, proof, etc.," she explains. "You can't lie — I mean you can, but you'd get caught."
Though in America we might not be privy to the moisturizing power of lanolin just yet, Carriol doesn't think she'll have a problem convincing the masses. "It will take a little while to educate everybody on why I think it's the best ingredient in the world," she says. "But I've yet to find someone I can't convince, especially when they try it. The proof is in the product, to be honest with you."
Ahead, take a look at all of the products launching stateside and check back for what's coming down the Lano pipeline — we hear fruit-infused versions of the 101 Ointment and cleansing products are just around the corner.