The secret ingredient
If you have been perusing the ultra-crunchy blog scene for a while, the surprise ingredient in this whipped body butter may not be news to you. If you are not familiar with this natural skincare ingredient, then it may sound weird. Really weird. Are you ready? The secret ingredient is… tallow!
That’s right, beef fat. Why would I slather my body with beef fat, you ask? First and foremost, because I don’t like to put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t eat. After all, 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into the bloodstream. Pastured beef fat is nourishing to eat and nourishing to the skin.
Next, tallow is compatible with the molecular structure of our skin cells. It is 50-55% saturated fat, the same percentage that makes up our cell membranes. Additionally, tallow is very similar to the protective sebum naturally produced by our skin. In my experience, tallow does not clog my pores (although I do not use it as a facial moisturizer) and I believe it is because of its similarity to sebum (source).
Finally, tallow is a time-honored skincare ingredient. And while I am sure that animal fats have been used as protective skin balms since the beginning of humanity, I don’t think we have proof of that. We do, however, have records that show tallow was a main ingredients in skin balms during the 1800’s (here are some examples).
“But doesn’t it smell?” That’s what my sister asked when I told her I was making beef fat body moisturizer. Well, it does just a little bit, but it isn’t unpleasant. I mix in grapefruit essential oils for a sweeter fragrance (you can customize it with essential oils of your choice). It doesn’t smell at all like beef once it is on your skin, it only has that distinctive fragrance when it is in the jar.
Where do I get tallow?
So, where do we find this unconventional skincare ingredient? I get containers of already rendered (ready-to-use) beef tallow from my local farmer and grassfed beef producer. Try asking for tallow at the beef stalls at your farmers market. You may be able to purchase ready-to-use tallow like me or you may need to purchase a hunk of beef fat and render it yourself. It is very simple to render it at home and Jill at The Prairie Homestead has a great tallow rendering tutorial.
This balm is ultra-moisturizing and long lasting as all-purpose moisturizer. I slather it on my hands before bed and I also massage it on my body after I bathe. In contrast to store-bought whipped body butters, this doesn’t immediately melt into the skin. Instead, you will need to warm it up a bit between your palms and then massage it onto the skin.
- 1½ cups rendered beef tallow
- 4 Tbs. jojoba or sweet almond oil
- 4 - 10 drops essential oils, if desired (I used lavender)
- Gently melt the tallow in a saucepan over low heat until liquid but not hot. In a bowl, stir in the jojoba oil and essential oil. Let sit until solidified but not firm, about a few hours (it depends on your room temperature). There's no need to be exact.
- Then, whip the living daylights out of it with an electric mixer. It will turn light and fluffy and look like buttercream frosting. You will want to eat it. Do not eat it. It doesn't taste good. Trust me... I tried it.
- Scoop into jars and store at room temperature for a while (as in, quite a few months).
Have you used tallow for skincare before? Do you make your own skincare products on a regular basis?
Just wondered if this would work with the fat I get on my beef broth? I use some of it in cooking but each (large) pot of broth produces easily 3 cups of thick creamy coloured fat. Would this render down, or could I use it as is, do you think?
Gail P Holt
I have done that and it worked great as long as you strain all beef particals out with cheese cloth before it solidifies
Curiouser and curiouser
I started off by making tallow hot process soap last week and then I made tallow balm. And now, this morning, I wanted to make this whipped body butter, but couldn’t find the electric handmixer. So I used a bowl and a stainless steel spoon. It worked perfectly 😉
I am coloured and live in South Africa so my skin is dark. I made some body butter and my body loves it, but my face fries when I am in the sun. What to do? I’ve never had this issue before with my regular body butters and creams.
Hmm wonder if you could add natural sunscreen powders?
Which ones maybe? Please advise, I’m interested to get some
It is not wise to put fats at sunny days. They give good results as night fix. South African, East London
Use carrot seed oil instead of Jojoba. Carrot seed oil has a very high natural SPF.
Do you have any experience in using beeswax with tallow?
LOVE this. Just whipped it up and am about to rub down my little one when he gets out of the shower. So glad I can stop spending 60 dollars a jar! Thank you!
I have made the tallow lotion, but no one can get past the smell!. Have tried adding coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, tried infusing chamomile flowers, added my favorite patchouli oil and it just doesn’t pick up the other odors, still has a scent of the tallow. I love the way it feels and how it has helped my severely dry skin. Any ideas?
The first time I rendered the tallow using the dry method in the oven. It had a very strong scent and no one wanted to use it. The next time I tried the wet method and boiled it in a stockpot of purified water. Then I strained the chunky out and let the remaining tallow and water cool down. I refrigerated it and had a brick of round tallow the next day, it separated from the water by itself. I shaved the impurities off the bottom of the brick where they had settled and returned it to the pot and filled with clean water and set it to boil again. So overall, I boiled, strained, cooled, and cleaned the tallow three times. After that it had a very mild scent. The reason I did it that way is because I saw that a company who makes tallow soap renders their tallow three times. It worked well for me. I rendered a large amount at once and froze most of it for later. Then I used a small amount to make my body butter.
Yes, that is the way to get clean, unscented tallow!
I made the recipe several times, and there seems to be a recurring issue. All the pictures I’ve seen of the whipped tallow is very fluffy, like the whipped cream from a can. When I make it, while it is smooth, it’s very heavy and won’t hold its own weight and stay fluffed up.
Any ideas on what to adjust or how to fix this issue?
Hi, my first go at tallow lotion. Have a question so I left it on the mixer for what seemed like a while didn’t time it, it turned white but never became fluffy, just liquidy. Have any ideas what I did wrong?
I think I can officially say after making this that I will never need to buy lotion from the store again! I noticed a few things making it…
1. coconut oil helps it to spread easier (I mixed about a tablespoon of it with about 3/4 cup of tallow)
2. the smell really isn’t bad once it’s finished, and once it was on my skin I couldn’t smell the tallow but could only smell the essential oils I used (lavender, tea tree, and orange essential oils)
3. THIS IS AMAZING STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂
I have had eczema for as long as I can remember and I hope this helps. Switching to AIP has cleared up most of it, but I do still have some trouble areas. Also, I have Dermatomyositis and hope that this will give me relief from some inflammation on some of my skin.
Karen E Urbanski
Followed recipe exactly and it still tirned out a little on the runny side did not whip up like in pic. Not sure what went wrong.