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?