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The Truth About Beef Tallow For Skin: Everything You Need To Know

What..? Use beef tallow for skin?

I know, crazy right?

Well, maybe not… beef tallow for skin has got some limelight recently in such places as TikTok and Insta – so it may not be new to you.

Not quite mainstream yet but I reckon it’s only a matter of time before Kourtney Kardashian’s using it. Oh hang on she’s vegan so perhaps not… or is she? I struggle to keep up!

Anyway, let’s find out about tallow-based skincare products and whether there’s any truth to the hype and promise of glowing, youthful skin. Even if using an animal fat may sound initially off-putting.

The thing is, this animal-derived ingredient contains fatty acids that provide real moisturizing and protective benefits when applied topically.

And, as we’ll discover, animal fat was used to make soap long before plant-based fats – it’s just been somewhat forgotten in our present world of coconut body wash.

In this comprehensive guide, you will discover:

  • What exactly beef tallow is and where it comes from
  • The science behind how tallow nourishes skin
  • The pros and cons of using tallow on your face and body
  • Concerns about ethics and the environment
  • Tips for choosing quality tallow and making DIY products
  • My personal experience using tallow balms and creams
  • Answers to common questions about beef tallow for skincare

If you want to deeply moisturize your skin with an all-natural yet controversial ingredient, read on to learn everything you need to know about using beef tallow for skin health and beauty.


Beef tallow is rendered beef fat that has been used for centuries in skincare. It contains essential fatty acids like CLA, oleic, palmitic, and stearic acid that mimic skin’s natural oils to deeply moisturize.

Tallow reinforces the moisture barrier without clogging pores. Today, small brands offer tallow balms, soaps, and creams. Look for grass-fed tallow from ethical sources.

While not vegan-friendly, tallow can improve hydration and calm skin when used sparingly. Make your own or buy from artisans. Despite being an animal product, quality tallow nourishes skin incredibly well.

What is Beef Tallow?

Beef tallow is a rendered form of beef suet that turns the white fat trim and suet from cattle into a creamy, shelf-stable product. This animal-derived fat has been used for centuries to make soap, candles, moisturizers, and cooking oil.

Tallow is produced by slowly cooking beef fat to separate and purify the fats from the protein solids and water. It results in a smooth, off-white fat that remains solid at room temperature. The highest quality tallow comes from grass-fed cows.

If you want to find out more about tallow, see my article called Miracle Tallow.

Can You Use Beef Tallow On Your Skin?

Yes, beef tallow can absolutely be used on human skin. It contains vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids that provide real benefits when applied topically. Tallow has traditionally been used as a moisturizer and skin protectant long before modern cosmetic chemistry.

Today, many artisanal companies are bringing back tallow-based skincare products like creams, balms, and soaps that leverage the oils’ nourishing properties.

Using rendered beef fat may sound unappealing at first, but tallow is non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores. When sourced properly, tallow can be an effective moisturizer for dry skin and skin food.

Types Of Tallow Skincare Products

As the benefits of beef tallow become more widely known, we are seeing more natural skincare products emerge that use tallow as a key ingredient:

Tallow Balms

These thick, waxy balms are an easy way to try tallow. They’re made by blending tallow with beeswax and oils. Simply rub a small amount onto dry skin as needed.

Tallow Lotions & Creams

Lightweight lotions and richer creams made with tallow provide everyday hydration. Look for grass-fed tallow in the first few ingredients.

Tallow Soaps

Many artisanal soap makers now use tallow to create nourishing bars that don’t strip skin like commercial soap.

Tallow Facial Oils

Luxurious facial oils combine tallow with gentle plant oils like jojoba and calendula to rejuvenate mature or damaged skin.

Tallow Salves

These thick ointments use tallow’s anti-inflammatory properties to soothe cuts, burns, rashes, and severely dry patches.

Tallow Lip Balms

Replace petroleum-based balms with tallow lip balms that protect and heal dry, chapped lips while adding a glossy shine.

With so many options now available, it’s easy to find a properly formulated tallow skincare product that fits your preferences and needs. Just be sure to vet the source and quality first.

How Tallow Moisturises Your Skin

The key to tallow’s moisturizing powers lies in its unique composition of essential fatty acids. These are types of fats that are necessary for the human body but cannot be synthesized internally.

We must obtain essential fatty acids from dietary sources. Tallow contains several essential fatty acids that provide benefits when applied topically to the skin.

CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)

CLA is an essential fatty acid found almost exclusively in ruminant animal fats like beef tallow. Regular intake of CLA may have anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

When applied to the skin, CLA has been shown to help mitigate UV damage from the sun. Early research indicates it may help stabilize collagen production as we age as well.

Oleic Acid

Oleic acid is an incredibly nourishing omega-9 essential fatty acid for the skin. It makes up around 40% of the fatty acids in beef tallow.

Oleic acid is also abundant in “dry” oils like olive oil and almond oil which are prized in skin care. This monounsaturated fat helps maintain supple, flexible skin by reinforcing the protective moisture barrier. It also promotes soft, smooth skin texture.

Palmitic Acid

Palmitic acid makes up 20-30% of the fatty acids in beef tallow. This saturated fat gets a bad rap, but it’s actually quite beneficial for the skin.

Palmitic acid is one of the main building blocks of skin cell membranes. When applied topically, palmitic acid helps reinforce the skin barrier and locks in moisture. It forms a protective film on the surface of the skin to guard against dryness and irritation.

Stearic Acid

Stearic acid is another saturated fat that comprises 14-25% of tallow. Like palmitic acid, stearic acid helps reinforce the skin’s natural moisture barrier to prevent water loss.

It acts as a lubricant on the skin’s surface to leave it feeling incredibly soft and smooth. Stearic acid easily penetrates deep into skin to provide lasting hydration.

It’s naturally found in shea butter and cocoa butter as well.

Pros of Using Beef Tallow For Skin

  • Deeply moisturizes without clogging pores
  • Mimics skin’s natural oils more closely than plant oils
  • Contains skin-nourishing vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Reinforces and repairs moisture barrier
  • Anti-inflammatory properties help soothe skin
  • Imparts smooth, supple texture and flexibility
  • Provides lasting hydration that plant oils can’t
  • Affordable and easy to make at home
  • Long shelf life of properly rendered tallow
  • Non-allergenic for most skin types

Cons of Using Beef Tallow For Skin

  • Animal-derived so not vegan/vegetarian friendly
  • Some don’t like the idea of using animal fats
  • Can have a distinct meaty/tallow smell when homemade
  • Not as trendy or marketable as plant oils currently
  • Risk of contamination if using low-quality source
  • Can feel too heavy for some acne-prone skin or oily skin types
  • Requires finding a trusted local or online source
  • Needs to be combined with beeswax to make a balm
  • Won’t whip into fluffy body butter texture

Is Using Tallow Cruelty To Animals?

There are valid concerns about whether using an animal byproduct like tallow is ethical or cruel. On one hand, tallow makes use of a waste product from the beef industry that would otherwise be discarded.

No additional animals are slaughtered exclusively to render tallow. However, some take issue with using any animal ingredients at all. There are arguments on both sides.

Opting for tallow from grass-fed, pasture-raised cattle may alleviate some concerns about inhumane practices. Using beef tallow could be a personal decision based on your comfort level with animal products and byproducts.

Aren’t Animal Products Bad For the Environment?

It’s said that industrial cattle farming takes a major toll on the environment. However, this impact can be mitigated by choosing grass-fed tallow from regenerative ranches.

Grass-fed operations sequester carbon in the soil, reuse waste, protect biodiversity, and keep animals on pasture. When sourced mindfully, tallow can be a low-waste way to make use of the whole animal.

Rendering tallow at home locally also reduces fossil fuels needed for transport and packaging. While not perfect, environmentally-friendly tallow is possible.

My Thoughts About Using Tallow on My Skin

I’ve been using tallow soap for many years now. Tallow soap is the O.G. It was used a long time before plant-based soaps were a twinkle in Procter and Gamble’s eye.

This was news to me – I always wondered why soaps say ‘vegan-friendly’ – thinking to myself “Why would it not be vegan-friendly?’.

The thing I love most about tallow soap is that it’s made with tallow, lye, water, and essential oils if you want to make it smell pretty – that’s it. Just 3-4 ingredients.

If you haven’t already, check out the ingredients in your plant-based soap. You’ll find many more and most you won’t know or even know how to pronounce.

Now, I like to make an effort to groom – I like to think I’m a modern guy. To be honest, if I were to let myself go, I’d be pretty hairy so I may need to shave the tops of my arms and shoulders from time to time.

After doing so, I’m left with dry skin, so I use tallow balm making the most of its moisturizing benefits. My wife spends small fortunes on potions and lotions for her skincare routine but I use this simple animal fat-based balm and it works great.

I used to use coconut oil before I discovered tallow balm but it was far too greasy for me. Coconut oil is stuffed full of saturated fats with the highest levels of any known product – yes, more than any animal fat… much more.

For me, I’m a big fan and it’s all part of the nose-to-tail philosophy I subscribe to.

Grass-Fed Tallow: The Importance Of Quality

When sourcing beef tallow, quality is paramount. Look for tallow exclusively from grass-fed animals, not grain-fed animals. Grass-fed tallow has a more favorable fatty acid profile with higher omega-3s, CLA, vitamin E, and antioxidants.

It’s also free of antibiotics, hormones, and other drugs commonly used in industrial feedlots. Choose tallow from cows raised on open pasture, not CAFOs. Local and ethical sources will provide the highest quality tallow to nourish your skin, not just clog your pores.

How to Make Your Own Tallow Soap

Looking to go back to basics with a nourishing homemade tallow soap? Here’s a simple cold process recipe to try:


  • 12 oz beef tallow, grated
  • 4.9 oz lye (sodium hydroxide)
  • 11 oz filtered water
  • 2 tbsp raw honey (optional)
  • Essential oils for fragrance (optional)


  • Digital scale
  • Thermometer
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Rubber gloves and goggles
  • Soap molds


  1. Grate the beef tallow and set aside until needed.
  2. In a well-ventilated area, slowly add the lye to the water in your pot, stirring continuously. Allow to cool.
  3. Melt the grated tallow in a double boiler or crockpot until liquified. Allow to cool slightly.
  4. When both lye solution and oils are between 95-100F, carefully pour the lye water into the melted tallow. Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes until trace.
  5. Add honey and any essential oils if desired. Mix well.
  6. Pour evenly into silicone molds and allow to set 24-48 hours before unmolding.
  7. Allow bars to cure for 3-6 weeks, turning occasionally, before using.

Be sure to take all safety precautions when making lye soap. Your skin will thank you for the nourishing bars of homemade tallow soap!

How to Make Your Own Tallow Balm

Making your own tallow-based balm allows you to control the quality of ingredients. Here’s a simple recipe to try:

  • 1 cup grass-fed beef tallow
  • 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles
  • 5-10 drops essential oils (optional)
  1. Gently melt the tallow and beeswax together in a double boiler.
  2. Once melted, let cool slightly and stir in essential oil if using.
  3. Pour into small tins or jars and allow to fully set.
  4. Apply sparingly to dry areas like hands, heels, elbows, and knees.
  5. Store any extra in the fridge for up to a year.

Be sure to source high-quality tallow and beeswax when making your own nourishing balms and butters.

Where To Buy Beef Tallow Skincare Products

If the thought of making your own soap or balm seems too much of a faff, then there are many suppliers that have done the hard work for you.

Again, ensure they use high-quality tallow from grass-fed and finished animals. See below for some suggestions:

Final Thoughts About Beef Tallow For Skin

Obviously not ideal for anyone following a vegan lifestyle. That said – being someone who eats an animal-based diet – I actually agree with many of the vegan principles one of which is that animals should live a natural and happy life and not be mistreated.

So the source of my animal products is very important for both the animal welfare and the quality of the end product that I’m eating or applying to my skin. I’m guessing you would agree.

So if you eat meat, then there’s no reason why you can’t try tallow skincare products. They work really well for most due to the essential fatty acids content that complement our skin.

They’re made up of minimal ingredients with no nasties, which can’t be said for plant-based products.

And, it’s making the most of the whole beast – ensuring nothing goes to waste. If you’re interested in the nose-to-tail philosophy be sure to check out my articles on offal and organ meat.

So there you have it. I hope this encourages you give them a go. If you’re interested in finding out more about tallow, not just for skin but also as a food, then check out my article called Miracle Tallow.

FAQ: Beef Tallow For Skin

Q: Is beef tallow good for skin?

A: Yes, grass-fed beef tallow can be very good for skin health. It provides deep hydration thanks to its fatty acid content and vitamins A, D, E and K. Tallow moisturizes while reinforcing the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

Q: Do dermatologists recommend beef tallow?

A: Most dermatologists focus on newer, high-tech skincare ingredients. But many acknowledge the skin-soothing benefits of using pure, natural animal fats like tallow from reputable sources.

Q: Can you rub beef tallow on your face?

A: Yes, you can use tallow directly on your face. Make sure to start with a very small amount to see how your skin responds first. Many find tallow effectively hydrates and calms skin with regular use.

Q: Does beef tallow have collagen?

A: No, beef tallow itself does not contain collagen. But the vitamins and fatty acids in tallow help support healthy collagen production in the skin.

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