Taking a Closer Look at Tallow: How Animal Fat Can Benefit Your Skin and Health
Have you considered using tallow as part of your skincare routine? Tallow has been used for centuries by many cultures as a versatile and nourishing skincare ingredient, with healing properties attributed to its richness of vitamins and essential fatty acids.
Dating back to ancient Egypt and Rome, tallow was valued for its moisturizing properties. In the Middle Ages, tallow was a common ingredient in cold creams and balms, often used as a remedy for chapped skin, minor abrasions, and burns. In the 19th and 20th centuries, tallow continued to be a popular ingredient in skincare products. However, with the advent of modern cosmetic ingredients and the development of plant-based oils and waxes, tallow fell out of fashion in the skincare industry. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in tallow as a skincare ingredient, particularly among those seeking natural, organic, and sustainable skincare products.
When sourced responsibly, tallow is a sustainable ingredient that doesn’t generate additional waste. It is biodegradable and won’t harm the environment. We only source tallow from 100% grass-fed, pasture raised cattle raised on farms that prioritize soil health.
What is Tallow and Why is it Good for Skin?
Tallow is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat that has been purified and processed to remove impurities and moisture. It is a rich source of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that can benefit your skin in several ways. Here are some of the most notable skincare benefits of tallow:
Tallow is an excellent moisturizer that can penetrate deeply into the skin to provide long-lasting hydration and nourishment, leaving it feeling soft and supple. It contains high levels of oleic acid, which is a fatty acid that is similar in structure to the sebum (oil) produced by our skin. In fact, the two are so similar that sebum is the Latin word for tallow. This means that tallow can help balance the skin's natural oil production and prevent dryness, flakiness, and irritation.
Skin Barrier Repair
Tallow contains many of the same lipids found in our skin's natural barrier. Using tallow-based products can help repair and strengthen this barrier, which helps skin to better retain moisture and protect against environmental stressors. Moreover, tallow contains essential fatty acids such as oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid which promote healthy skin cell growth and repair damaged cells.
Tallow contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and palmitoleic acid, which can reduce redness, swelling, irritation, and other signs of inflammation. These compounds also soothe skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. The vitamin E found in tallow is a fat-soluble antioxidant, doing double-duty by reducing inflammation while shielding the skin from environmental stressors. As a non-irritating, soothing topical, tallow is an ideal skincare ingredient for those with sensitive or reactive skin. Because tallow is highly compatible with the structure of human skin, it is hypoallergenic and unlikely to cause irritation or allergic reactions.
Tallow is rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are essential for maintaining healthy skin and reducing the signs of aging. These vitamins promote collagen production, improve skin elasticity, texture, and tone, and protect against environmental damage, such as UV radiation and pollution. Antioxidants found in Tallow help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals, which can accelerate aging. These antioxidants help slow the aging process and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Unlike many commercial skincare products that can clog pores and cause breakouts, tallow has non-comedogenic properties. This means that it won't clog pores or cause acne, making it an ideal ingredient for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin. Because tallow’s chemical composition is so similar to skin’s natural sebum, topical application of tallow can help control excess oil production.
The skincare benefits of tallow are undeniable – it's a natural, nourishing, and sustainable ingredient that has been used for centuries. Its sebum-like properties and essential fatty acids make it an excellent choice for those struggling with acne, dryness, or hypersensitivity.
Despite a dip in skincare usage in modern times, tallow has been used for thousands of years by our ancestors to nourish, heal, and protect their skin. Ancient Egyptians used tallow as a perfume base, the Romans heavily relied on tallow for their soap-making, and the Celts used tallow to protect their skin from the elements. Even during World War II, soldiers used tallow as a skin protectant due to its water-resistant properties. Tallow has a long, diverse history and continues to help us maintain healthy, glowing skin.
We make small batches of topical, tallow-based skincare products for those interested in giving tallow a try. For daily facial care, try our unscented tallow face balm, or this balm featuring tallow intermixed with blue tansy and sea buckthorn oil. For head-to-toe, we use our whipped tallow butter and tallow beauty whip!
Share your thoughts with us on tallow usage for skincare, cooking, soap-making, etc. in the comments below. We’d also love to hear from purveyors of ethically raised, grass-fed tallow local to the Pacific Northwest!