About a year ago we ventured into the world of Nourishing Traditions and the wonderful high fat diet they propose. I’ve lost weight, my energy is up, and we feel fantastic. I’ve played around with lots of different fats to cook with: Grass fed butter, duck fat, ghee, beef tallow.
But when a friend recently asked if I had gotten into beef tallow as a skin care product I was a little surprised. I mean I’ll eat it, but not sure I wanted to put it on my skin. But it does make sense. Technically all the skincare products I make are edible.
So when our family was hit with a terrible bout of dry skin (thanks to the Pinellas County water system for the delicious chemicals they recently dumped in our water), I turned to something different when Shea butter was no longer doing the trick.
I hit the lab to formulate a Tallow balm that would be good for our whole family (and yours too!). This stuff is fantastic for any skin ailment you can think of, from dry skin and eczema, diaper rash, acne, aging facial skin, scars, sunburn, psoriasis, dermatitis, or even stretch marks (which is quite appealing since I am 7 months pregnant with baby number 3 as I type.) You name it, this stuff is for it!
Tallow is actually a very old fashioned skin care ingredient. Animal fats used to be as much a part of skin care regimens as they were a part of old fashioned diets. But the move away from animal fats in cooking, in exchange for vegetable oils, also included its exclusion from use in skin products. In fact, up until it’s recent resurgence in popularity you would have been hard pressed to find any skin care products with animal fats at all. But thankfully organizations like the Weston A. Price foundation are doing a fantastic job of educating the public on the benefits of animal fats consumed both internally and externally.
I’m here to say that FAT IS BACK!
I began researching Tallow balm and its benefits and I was so very pleasantly surprised to find this amazing ingredient to add to my products!
“Modern-day research confirms the traditional wisdom of our ancestors. From biology, we know that the cell membrane is made up primarily of fatty acids, a double layer, to be exact. Saturated fats constitute at least 50 percent of the cell membrane. Since saturated fats tend to be more solid than unsaturated fats at a given temperature, they help give the cell membrane its necessary stiffness and integrity for proper function. The monounsaturated fats, while not as “solid” as the saturated fats, are more so than the polyunsaturated fats which are also present in the cell membrane in their own proper proportion, although the modern diet leads to a disproportionate amount of the polyunsaturates. Healthy, “toned” skin cells with sufficient saturated and monounsaturated fats would undoubtedly make for healthy, toned skin. Interestingly, tallow fat is typically 50 to 55 percent saturated, just like our cell membranes, with almost all of the rest being monounsaturated, so it makes sense that it would be helpful for skin health and compatible with our cell biology.”
Now its important to talk a little about what exactly Tallow is, how its made, and the best sources for it.
When it comes to our skin we want to be wise about what we’re absorbing. We know that its our largest organ, so we wouldn’t want to put anything on our skin that we wouldn’t want to consume internally. Our skin is literally drinking every cream, lotion, or balm we put on it. So avoiding toxins and chemicals in skin care products is just as important as avoiding toxins in our foods.
So when we look at the fat of an animal, especially for the purposes of putting on our skin, it is important to look at what kind of toxins may or may not be stored in that fat.
So only the fat from cows raised on organic farms, and fed grass fed diets will be appropriate for use on the skin. Studies show that the fats and milk from grass fed cows have four times the vitamin E of grain-fed cows. Extra vitamin E for my skin? Yes please!
The process of making tallow can be grueling. It involves finding reputable beef fat (called suet), chopping said suet (and no not in a System of a Down sort of way), then cooking down or rendering the fat until all the liquid fat has separated from the fried fat pieces, also called “cracklins” if you’re in the south (which I am). That liquid fat is then strained and cooled and the remaining substance is a velvety smooth, ivory white, waxy sort of hard butter that is mild in scent, but slightly nutty. Its not exactly “beefy” but there is a subtle aroma that isn’t exactly sweet.
Since we’ve moved away from the farm days of preparing our own foods I think most modern homemakers would shy away from this process (current company included.) So I buy mine ready rendered.
And thus you have Tallow. It is a beautifully smooth substance.
So now that its in this lovely form how do we get the balm?
A couple of things to consider:
- Tallow is a bit firm on its own and can be difficult to spread.
- It does have a very light subtle aroma that may not be appealing to everyone.
So I decided to invite some of our plant friends to the party. Yes animal fats are awesome but let’s not forget our wonderful plant based buddies that have been a mainstay in skincare for just as long. I wanted to use something naturally very fragrant without having to add a TON of essential oils. Don’t get me wrong, EO’s are my jam, but they can sometimes irritate certain skin types, so I wanted to be careful. I added just 1-2 drops of Bergamot oil per jar. But I still wanted more scent (without going EO crazy).
Enter Orange Butter. Being a Florida girl I am partial to the wonderfully refreshing aroma of ripe, juicy, florida oranges so this ingredient makes me very happy. It smells fantastic! The one I use is derived from Orange Peel oil and Orange Peel Wax (blended with almond oil), specifically from the Florida area, and is made by cold pressing Orange peel to get the oil. Orange Peel Oil contains Limonene, which is a very effective free radical scavenger. It also has a cleansing and toning effect on skin that can improve oily skin and acne problems. Also contained in Orange Butter is Orange Peel Wax which contains a high level of Bioflavonoids (polyphenols). Bioflavonoids have anti-cellulite, anti-inflammatory, and many other protective benefits for skin.
So that solves the aroma issue, with the added benefit of tons of pro skin factors.
Now for the texture. Welcome to the stage Olive Oil. Olive oil has been used for millenia, with skincare usage going as far back as the Ancient Egyptians and Ancient Greeks. It has excellent skin benefits (including MORE polyphenols) and its liquid state adds a wonderful softness to the harder waxy tallow.
When melted down and blended together, these 3 all-star ingredients make a powerful skin moisturizing trio. I’m so excited for you to try it! As always if you love the idea of the DIY thing but just don’t have the time (or desire to render beef fat) you can buy this magical stuff ready made in my Etsy shop!
Special thanks to SKS Bottle for the fantastic glass jars. They seriously have every type of jar or bottle you can think up and these adorable dome jars were just perfect for this balm. A little goes a long way with this stuff so a giant jar wasn’t necessary, these 4oz jars were just right.