In recent decades, the food industry has given fat a run for its money. From “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” to low-fat everything, fat has lost the favor of many.

But in more recent years, many folks have set out to change that. I don’t have to tell you about the rise in popularity of things like the keto diet and butter coffee.

When it comes to fat in your diet, type and quality matter. “Good” (aka unsaturated) fats—which are in things like avocados and olive oil—are important for a balanced healthy diet. It’s the trans fats that are the real “bad guys.”

Have you ever thought about using fat for skincare? Even if you’ve never realized it, you’ve probably experienced the skincare benefits of fat in the past. If you’ve ever used moisturizer with shea butter in it or lotion that contains coconut oil, then you’ve experienced the skin-nourishing benefits of fat!

Those two ingredients are extremely common in personal care products, but what’s less common is animal fat. Have you ever tried putting animal fats on your face?!

Although beef tallow may not feel intuitive to put on your skin, there are many skincare benefits to using animal parts in this nature-derived skincare. So today I’m covering why animal fat for skin is a game-changer.

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn commission if you decide to make a purchase. Featured image credit: Primally Pure.

Quick Note: Obviously, tallow skincare is not suitable for vegans. If you prefer to skip the animal-derived products in your skincare products, that’s awesome. This piece is simply to provide info for the tallow-curious!

What is Tallow? 

Beef tallow is a form of rendered beef fat that’s extracted from the fat deposits of cow meat. It’s melted down at a low heat to preserve all of the valuable nutrients and separated from the interior fat tissue (also called suet). Similarly to coconut oil, tallow is solid at room temperature. This is because tallow is rich in both palmitic acid and stearic acid, contributing to its high viscosity (melting point).

The consistency of tallow makes for great skincare products (it feels similar to shea butter). Tallow has a long shelf life and doesn’t have to be refrigerated, as long as it’s tightly sealed shut and stored away from direct sunlight.

Tallow has a long track record—it’s been around for centuries. In addition to skincare, it can be used as a cooking oil or even made into candles or soaps. In cooking, tallow has many benefits and provides a rich flavor profile. Tallow is composed of monounsaturated fats and saturated fats, making it a heart-healthy cooking oil option that supports brain function and overall health.

Tallow is also high in conjugated linoleic acids (CLA). Research suggests that consuming CLA is anti-inflammatory and could potentially fight the growth of tumors. Additionally, this study suggests that CLA can even lead to increased fat burning.

Tallow also makes a great cooking oil due to its high smoke point of 420-480 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that it can be cooked at higher temperatures than some other common cooking oils without changing its chemical makeup. Cooking oils at a temperature that’s too high can make them more apt to oxidize and potentially cause issues, such as free radical damage.

What Can Tallow Be Used For?

Tallow is a multipurpose ingredient that can be used in various ways. Its extremely hydrating and gentle properties make it a safe bet for a natural moisturizer even for the most sensitive skin, but the benefits of tallow don’t end there. Tallow has many functions and is a great addition to any beauty routine.

Tallow makes amazing butters, lip balms, and face creams, and can even be used in products like deodorant to add a boost of hydration.

The nourishing properties of tallow balm help to protect and hydrate the skin barrier, making it perfect for dry skin. The intense moisture provided by tallow is beneficial for aging skin as well. Although this product is extra hydrating, the anti-inflammatory properties of fatty acids in beef tallow can benefit oily skin as well.

Does Tallow Have a Scent?

A common question that many people ask about beef tallow for skin is whether or not it smells like… Well, beef tallow.

The answer depends on where you’re getting your beef tallow from. If you’re buying straight-up beef tallow from the store and turning it into your own skincare product, then there’s a solid chance you’ll be able to detect a beefy scent.

However, most tallow skincare companies process their products specifically to have a faint odor that’s not noticeable. If you prefer scented products, many beef tallow skincare brands add in essential oils for a subtle fragrance.

Mutton Tallow vs. Beef Tallow for Skin

Mutton tallow is made from the rendered fat of sheep rather than cows. Although both fats have hydrating properties, beef tallow is a bit more saturated than mutton tallow. This makes it ideal for moisturizing products and is why beef tallow is more frequently seen in tallow for skin.

Is Beef Tallow Good for Skin?

Modern-day skincare often includes toxic chemicals that can put your health at risk when exposed at chronic low doses over long periods of time.

Beef tallow, on the other hand, is a natural option that’s great for human skin. It’s a safe, nourishing, bare-bones ingredient that’s packed with benefits when put to use in your skincare routine. Here are some of the ways that using tallow can level up your beauty regimen:

1. It’s rich in vitamins

Beef tallow has high concentrations of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

  • Vitamin A can stimulate collagen production and combat acne, fine lines, and wrinkles.
  • Vitamin D can also help combat skin aging.
  • Vitamin E is anti-inflammatory and can help reduce swelling, inflammation, and scarring.
  • Vitamin E and Vitamin K can both aid in healing wounds.

These nutrients all work together to promote healthy, vibrant skin. To get the most benefit out of using tallow skincare, make sure it comes from pasture-raised cows that had nutritious diets in their lifetime. This will ensure that it’s full of the good stuff.

2. It has essential fatty acids

In addition to being loaded with valuable vitamins, beef tallow is high in essential fatty acids like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), palmitic, stearic, alpha-linoleic, and oleic acid. These ingredients have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties to boost and preserve your skin health.

As I mentioned above, conjugated linoleic acid is an anti-inflammatory omega-5 fatty acid with powerful antioxidant properties. It has even been shown to speed up the process of wound healing. Linoleic acid has also been shown to accelerate the repair and development of the skin barrier and improve skin hydration.

Palmitic acid and stearic acid are emollients that help keep the skin hydrated and smooth. Oleic acid is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, and helps with wound healing, skin inflammation, and skin barrier repair.

3. It doesn’t contain polyunsaturated fatty acids

While tallow is high in fat, it’s free of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Many people choose to avoid PUFAs because research supports that they are susceptible to oxidation and can lead to inflammatory injury of the cells.

4. It improves skin cells for healthy skin

Tallow is made up of about 50% saturated fats, which is similar to the makeup of human skin. The similarities in the composition of beef tallow to our cell membranes make this nourishing fat the perfect product to help keep skin hydrated.

Additionally, sebum (the oily substance that hydrates and protects our skin) and tallow are both primarily made of triglycerides, which soothe and replenish the skin.

Does Beef Tallow Clog Pores?

Unlike other natural moisturizers like coconut oil, many people pick beef tallow for skin solutions because of its low comedogenic profile. Although everyone’s skin type is different, low comedogenic products don’t clog pores, which makes them much more suitable for acne-prone skin.

For this reason, using tallow in skincare is a safe bet for acne-prone or sensitive skin types.

Tallow Skincare Application Tips 

Tallow is simple to incorporate into your skincare product lineup. However, there are some tips to help you get the most bang for your buck when using tallow:

1. A little goes a long way

When applying tallow to the skin, start with a small amount and build your way up if you need more. Tallow moisturizer is rich, thick, and very concentrated, so you don’t need as much as you may think.

2. Get your money’s worth!

Tallow can be used for all of your skin, from your head to your toes. It’s gentle and nourishing enough for your face, body, and even for babies. (Depending on the formula of course… Make sure to use tallow products that have safe, minimal ingredients.)

3. Avoid grain-fed cows

Using tallow that comes from grass-fed cows when possible is ideal. Additionally, be sure to purchase tallow from pasture-raised rather than factory-farmed cattle to ensure that it’s more humanely sourced. (I cover more on grass-fed vs. grain-fed animals in tallow below.)

Does Grass-Fed Tallow Matter? 

Although beef tallow in its pure form is edible and makes for a great cooking agent, you (hopefully?!) aren’t ingesting your skincare. Which begs the question: does grass-fed tallow matter when it comes to your personal care products? 

In short: yes. Basically, grass-fed cows tend to be healthier and therefore the the tallow is going to be of a higher quality.

Grass-fed tallow is also a more ethical option since cows that graze on soy and corn-based diets just don’t receive the same level of nutrients as grass-fed cows.

The diets of cows make an impact on the quality of the fat that is rendered into tallow. In grain-fed cows, the unhealthy ingredients that they consume settle into their fat tissue, impacting the quality of tallow skincare products.

Grass-fed beef tallow is leaps and bounds ahead of grain-fed in its nutritional profile. It contains much higher levels of fatty acids, carotenoids (vitamin A), vitamin E, and cancer-fighting antioxidants like superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione (GT). This translates not just to the ground beef on our plates, but to skincare that’s rich in the good stuff. 

Best Tallow Skincare Products 

If you’re hoping to find tallow products to add to your skincare rotation, here are some of the best products that use tallow for skin:

1. Toups & Co. Tallow Balms

Price: $45.00

Made with just 100% grass-fed tallow, organic virgin olive oil, and organic frankincense essential oil, this tallow face cream is non-toxic, healing, and hydrating. It helps to even the skin tone, restore firmness and skin health, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles without clogging pores.

Toups & Co. also offers a Hydrating Tallow Stick (which is much easier to apply!) and a Mini Balm Set (so you can try out all of their varieties!).

2. Primally Pure Everything Balm

is beef tallow good for skin Primarilly Pure

Price: $28.00

This tallow balm is made using tallow from grass-fed cows, along with other nourishing ingredients like extra virgin olive oil, pure Emu oil, and vitamin E. Made specifically to restore the skin barrier function, this rich formula melts into the skin for intense hydration and is a great moisturizer for your face and body.

3. Ela Skincare Co. Unscented Everything Butter

is beef tallow good for skin Ela Skincare Co. Unscented Everything Butter

Price: $29.00

This small business uses simple ingredients to create natural skincare products using tallow and other non-toxic ingredients.

The Everything Butter is multipurpose, hydrating, and extra thick for intense moisture. You can use this tallow butter for hand cream, face moisturizer, dry patches, lip balm, and everything in between. It’s made with just two ingredients: tallow from local Florida farms and jojoba oil.

My take: I use the Everything Butter all the time in my skincare regimen, and I love it. It’s incredibly rich, nourishing, and doesn’t break me out.

I also love that it doesn’t have any kind of odor and is truly unscented, so it meshes well with all of my other personal care products. When my skin is feeling extra thirsty, this butter brings it right back to life.

4. Buffalo Gal Grassfed Beauty Night Repair Balm

beef tallow for skincare Buffalo Gal Grassfed Beauty Night Repair Balm

Price: $89.00

Water buffalo tallow and pure beet fat are infused with a handful of anti-aging ingredients in this nourishing night cream to provide intense hydration and skin benefits. With ingredients like vitamin C, plantain, and CoQ10, this repair balm aids in reversing photodamage while supporting aging skin.  

5. Mayberry Farms Honey and Tallow Body Balm

is beef tallow good for skin Mayberry Farms Honey and Tallow Body Balm

Price: $12.00

This natural tallow balm is made with raw honey, goat milk, and shea butter and packed with intense nourishment.

Just a precaution: there is coconut oil in this formula. This is great for body hydration, but the high comedogenic profile means you may not want to use it on your face depending on your unique skin. For some folks, coconut oil can cause breakouts when applied to the face.

6. Primally Pure Lip Balm

is beef tallow good for skin Primally Pure Lip Balm

Price: $4.00

Made with nourishing ingredients like organic beeswax, coconut oil, tallow, and cocoa butter, these rich lip balms are ultra-hydrating to prevent chapped lips.

(See more of our lip balm picks here!)

7. Primally Pure Bergamot and Eucalyptus Deodorant

is beef tallow good for skin Primally Pure Bergamot and Eucalyptus Deodorant

Price: $16.00

Prioritizing non-toxic and nourishing ingredients doesn’t mean you need to smell bad. Deodorants are often filled with toxic endocrine disruptors.

Scented by essential oils, this natural and non-toxic deodorant is made with tallow and other beneficial ingredients that eliminate odors and minimize toxic buildup in the sweat glands.

8. Herbal Alchemy Dew Balm with Tallow

is beef tallow good for skin Herbal Alchemy Dew Balm with Tallow

Price: $30.00

This dew balm comes in stick form for convenient application and a glowy finish. This tallow balm stick is made with grass-fed tallow and natural ingredients for a hydrating, dewy effect. (They also sell pigmented tallow blush sticks for natural finishes of color!)

9. Nemah Renewal Nipple & Lip Balm

is beef tallow good for skin Nemah Renewal Nipple & Lip Balm

Price: $24.00

This renewing nipple, skin, and lip balm made from tallow is perfect for breastfeeding mamas or the chapped lips that accompany cold winter months. The naturally soothing ingredients are gentle and effective for extra irritated or dry skin.

10. Buffalo Gal Grassfed Beauty Cleansing Balm

beef tallow for skincare Buffalo Gal Grassfed Beauty Cleansing Balm

Price: $25.00

This tallow-based cleansing balm effortlessly melts away makeup without the use of any harmful toxins. The nourishing formula is infused with organic lavender flowers, rose buds, calendula flowers, lemon peel, and hydrogenated castor oil for an elevated self-care experience that removes makeup without drying.

The verdict is in: tallow-based products are the perfect skincare solution for even the most sensitive skin types. This natural and non-toxic skincare solution intensely nourishes dry or irritated skin and is suitable for everyday use if you’re looking for a new go-to moisturizer.

About Celia

Celia is a wellness copywriter with a background in marketing and business strategy. She helps non-toxic companies grow through SEO-optimized content and emotional language that speaks directly to the reader.

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  1. I have very dry itchy skin with a couple of patches of eczema. It got much worse after 4 1/2 years of cancer infusion treatments that were finally stopped because of side effects.
    All this time I’ve tried so many moisturizing creams but none are completely free of toxic ingredients. I need to use it all over everyday so I’m hoping to find a drugstore brand.
    Can you give me your opinion on what would be closest to what I’m looking for?
    Thank you, Bonnie