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Healthy Fats for your Skin: Soothing tallow body balm

The cosmetic industry is confusing- and this is no coincidence. With the greedy drive to patent this and brand that, we have somehow wound up with over 10,500 unique chemicals currently being used in personal care products. Nowadays, one trip down the skin care aisle is enough to leave you cross-eyed from trying to read impossibly long ingredient lists. How many times have you just sighed and picked up the most attractive looking bottle on the shelves, in hope that it is somewhat decent? If you’ve been considering changing up your skin care routine, but can’t sort through the jumble of gimmicks, mishmash of health claims and clamor of promises about “wrinkle-reducing,” and “glow-revitalizing,” it might be time to head back to the basics...

beef tallow for skin

The Sad Truths about Organic Skin Care

I know, I know- we’ve talked about skin care before, but the more I look around at the industry, the more I find tidbits of information that I can’t help but share. A lot of skin products out there are just not what they seem. A blend of synthetic, factory-processed ingredients squeezed into a matte-finished bottle decorated with tiny green leaves and labeled with an enchanting name, does NOT mean it is natural. In fact, it turns out that “organic” and “natural” are largely unregulated terms when it comes to personal care products, and they can be liberally slapped onto just about any ole’ container of lotion lying around. According to the research of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), products with the word “organic” on the label often contain no certified organic ingredients at all...zero, zip, nada. Under current labeling laws, even certified organic skin care products can contain as little as 10% organic ingredients by weight volume, with the other 90% comprised of petrochemicals, artificial stabilizers, cheap herbal extracts, unfiltered water and other laboratory-made goodies. What’s more, the American government currently does not require health studies or pre-market testing for chemicals used in personal care. Representatives from the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors themselves have stated “...a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without approval from the FDA.” Wonderful. With the thousands of questionable chemicals out there- many with documented carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting potential- this is none too reassuring

Whole Food for the Skin

beef tallow for skin

Caring for skin shouldn’t be confusing- your skin deserves the basic, deep nourishing care of whole foods, just like the rest of your body. Our ancestors certainly realized this. While many people in tropical climates traditionally used highly beneficial coconut oil to nourish and protect the skin, peoples from other areas of the world where such oils were not readily available often used tallow. Tallow is gently rendered animal fat, generally from cows and sheep. Tallow is extracted by slowly heating the fat tissue or “suet,” causing the pure oil to melt away. 

What?! Beef fat for the skin? Initially, this may sound gross to those of us living in a plastic-wrapped world where we are highly disconnected from our food. Yet, in the sustainable and sacred tradition of appreciating all of our resources, tallow is a actually a beautiful golden oil that has many uses. Actually, although you may not have ever noticed, tallow is still used as a base in some commercial cosmetic products. It has become increasing less popular with the reign of big business though, as it is both time consuming to produce and not patentable. 

Why Tallow?

Traditionally, tallow was applied as a soothing and regenerating balm for weathered and irritated skin. Modern science has provided further insight into the specific mechanics of this healing reaction. Tallow is:

  • Stable: Like coconut oil, tallow has a very beneficial fatty acid profile, with 50-55% stable saturated fats. This means that it is stable and does not readily go rancid, such that the beneficial nutrients can easily be preserved without refrigeration for extended periods of time.
  • Nourishing: Properly treated tallow from grass-fed cows is especially nutrient dense, rich with nutrients that plant-based oils simply do not poses. Tallow contains a harmonious balance of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, in a balanced combination with their activators. It also has an abundance of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which as been shown to have anti-inflammatory effect and palmitoleic acid which has antimicrobial characteristics.
  • Easily Absorbed: When you apply tallow you will notice that it leaves your skin feeling smooth without leaving a greasy residue as with some body butters. Some experts hypothesize that this is due to the similarities in the fatty acid profiles of tallow to human cell membranes and sebum (the waxy substance naturally secreted by your sebaceous glands to lubricate,waterproof and protect the skin). In Latin “sebum” actually translates to tallow or lard. 
  • Safe: Tallow has long been consumed as a cooking oil that is especially useful for high temperature cooking and frying due to a high smoke-point. It is safe to eat, delicious and safe to put on the body. It received the best possible safety ranking in the EWG database. It is important that tallow is derived from pastured, 100% grass-fed cows however, to avoid contamination with pesticides and other nasty chemicals.
  • It feels amazing! Not very formal, but it's true.

Homemade Tallow Body Balm

Unlike complex clinical lotions, high quality tallow body balm is not extremely expensive. You can make a tallow body balm at home by either rendering your own tallow or finding tallow from your local farmer. For a great video on how to render your own beef tallow, visit Weston A. Price Chapter Leader Sarah Pope at The Healthy Home Economist. Once you have tallow, mix one part unfiltered olive oil with 8-9 parts pastured tallow. This will help to increase the spreadability of the tallow and also adds an antioxidant benefit. If you want, you can mix in some essential oils of your liking and you will have a brilliantly soothing lotion that lasts for months.

Vintage Traditions

 

If DIY isn’t your thing, Radiant Life is proud to include Vintage Tradition Body Balm in our collection of pure skin care products. These handmade balms are made from tallow from 100% grass-fed cows, organic olive oil and therapeutic blends of organic essential oils. They are very carefully blended following high standards of purity and never come into contact with plastic or aluminum during creation.

 

 

 

 

This post can be found on My Cultured Palate, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways

Resources

Nourishing Traditions

The Skinny on Fats by Mary G. Enig PhD and Sally Fallon

Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database

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Comments

lets leave the animals out of it!! enough with the animals!!!!
Posted @ Tuesday, January 15, 2013 3:30 PM by mary papini
There are many plant-based healthy fats and oils that are great for this skin including flax oil, olive oil and coconut oil. If this is your personal preference, visit our blog on Whipped Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for a great vegetarian DIY project.
Posted @ Thursday, January 17, 2013 6:14 AM by Kayla Grossmann
Would rendered lard have the same properties?
Posted @ Friday, January 18, 2013 7:38 PM by Linda
Hello Linda, 
Lard is also used as an effective moisturizer for the skin although it has a slightly different composition than tallow. Tallow is preferable because it has a higher concentration of saturated fatty acids, is more easily absorbed and is a fantastic source of anti-inflammatory conjugated linoleic acid.
Posted @ Monday, January 21, 2013 9:51 AM by Kayla Grossmann
I will be ordering this product. Coconut based skin products do nothing for my skin. I have a feeling this might do the trick.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 23, 2013 2:50 PM by Suhenna
Is the tallow from pasture raised and finished animals?
Posted @ Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:53 AM by marty martinolich
The tallow used in the Vintage Traditions Balms is mainly from three ranches: Larga Vista Ranch, Maytag Mountain Ranch, and Music Meadows Ranch where the cows are beyond organic and 100% grass-fed. This is important for the therapeutic value of the balm as tallow from grass-fed cows has been shown to have a significantly higher mineral and micronutrient profile as compared to that from grain-fed animals.
Posted @ Thursday, January 24, 2013 6:59 AM by Kayla Grossmann
I love that you give me the option to make and to buy. 
 
Keep up the good work folks!!!
Posted @ Thursday, January 24, 2013 7:43 PM by Corina Sleep
I love using plain grassfed tallow on my skin but would also like to make my own just to be able to add some essential oils. I cannot use anything containing olive oil since it clogs my pores and causes acne, so is there anything else that you would recommend that has the same effect of increasing the spreadability? If not, I'm fine with rubbing in a small bit of firm tallow, as I do now, since it readily melts and absorbs beautifully.
Posted @ Sunday, February 03, 2013 8:57 PM by Beth
Hi Beth, 
I have never tried this before, and it might be a stretch, but I wonder if you could whip tallow in a similar way to coconut oil? It might be worth a try. Check out the whipped coconut oil method here: 
 
http://blog.radiantlifecatalog.com/bid/62498/Video-Homemade-Whipped-Extra-Virgin-Coconut-Oil-Lotion 
 
If not, maybe you could try adding in a different oil like avocado oil or almond oil that your skin might tolerate better.
Posted @ Thursday, February 07, 2013 7:52 AM by Kayla Grossmann
Wonderful product
Posted @ Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:19 AM by Brooke
I bought some Tallow Balm at a Farmer's market scented with lavender oil. In the jar it smells ok but on my skin it smells like a raw piece of meat, it is awful. Is it what's expected or has the tallow not been prepared correctly ? 
Posted @ Sunday, June 02, 2013 8:37 PM by Bernadette Brown
Hi Bernadette, 
When rendered correctly, tallow does have a distinct, although not always unpleasant scent. However, if essential oils are added in the proper proportions, this scent is easily neutralized. You could try adding several different essential oils to the tallow blend, as this can also enhance the soothing capacity of the lotion.
Posted @ Monday, June 03, 2013 10:18 PM by Kayla Grossmann
This is some kind of new thing for me because i don't know about this balm, And i read full blog and after reading all the details i think this quite good and i can go for this.
Posted @ Saturday, July 06, 2013 12:14 AM by Organic Acne Product
This may sound crazy, but when I make and clean up (high quality, natural) bacon, I notice that rubbing the bacon fat into my arms and elbows seems very soothing to the skin. Would there be a compelling reason not to use this kind of lard? Note, we bake it in the oven, in a baking pan, rather than frying, and end up with a layer of fat in the pan, when it cools at the end. Rendered or no?
Posted @ Tuesday, July 30, 2013 4:14 PM by Carey
How is tallow balm compared to the Blue ICe beauty balm? Which is more moisturizing for dry skin (body)? Can they be used on the face without clogging pores? 
 
Thanks!
Posted @ Wednesday, August 07, 2013 2:46 PM by f
In the above post you have mentioned that around 10,500 unique chemicals are used in personal care products, I request you to list some of them.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 22, 2013 8:16 AM by Beauty
Hello! There is a lengthy list of chemicals used in cosmetics- some of which are considered safe, and others that are potentially dangerous or completely untested. Some of these chemicals include formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, isopropyl alcohol, dyes, propylene glycol and many others. If you are interested in more, the Environmental Working Group maintains a comprehensive database of products, ingredients, and research. It can be found at Skin Deep Database
Posted @ Wednesday, October 23, 2013 1:49 PM by Kayla Grossmann
Good post, Tallow is safe to put on the body and It feels amazing.
Posted @ Friday, July 11, 2014 9:55 PM by SkinCareQC
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