Shortly after switching my diet to a diet of whole, unrefined foods free of nasty additives and chemicals, I realized that even though I was avoiding chemical junk in my food, there was still all sorts of chemical crap in the products I was using on my body. The skin is the largest organ and what you put on your skin enters your body just as the things you eat do. Except that what you absorb through your skin doesn’t go through the digestive system where toxins can be filtered out before entering the blood stream. For this reason it is just as important, if not more so, to avoid toxic skin care products.
Because of this I don’t enjoy all the nasty chemicals found in conventional beauty products and even in the “all natural” products. I like to know what I am putting on my body just as much as I like to know what I am putting in my body and I don’t put anything on my body that I wouldn’t also put in my body. I don’t know about you but I don’t really want to eat propylene glycol or sodium lauryl sulfate so I’d rather not put on my skin either.
Don’t be fooled by products claiming to be “all natural” either. The regulations for labeling skin care products are not as strict as those for labeling foods (not that those are overly strict either) so companies can get away with labeling things as natural that contain chemicals that aren’t exactly natural or even safe. For example, propylene glycol which is present in many “natural” products such as deodorant, shampoo and lotion, is classified as a skin irritant according to the Environmental Working Group. It also enhances skin absorption which means it increases the skin’s ability to absorb all the other toxins that are present in conjunction with the propylene glycol. It is also the main ingredient in antifreeze. I’ll pass, thanks! (For a list of other ingredients to avoid see here.)
Despite the mislabeling (IMHO) of skin care products, there are a handful of companies doing things the right way. However, these can sometimes be expensive and even if they aren’t prohibitively expensive I’m just a fan of simplicity and a good DIY project. I currently make my own lotion, lip balm, deodorant, toothpaste, and this tallow balm. (Ya, I do realize I am a dirty hippie, but hey that’s just how I roll!)
Wtf is tallow, you ask? Tallow is beef fat that has been rendered. Why tallow? Tallow’s fatty acid composition is very similar to that of human skin (around 50 to 55% saturated fat) so it is very compatible with our skin. Tallow is high in vitamins A, D, K, and E all of which are necessary for skin health and only found in animal products. Tallow is also high in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) known for its anti-inflammatory properties (source). Traditional cultures understood the benefits of using the entire animal including its fats, something that is missing in society today.
So, basically what I am trying to say is that you should get some good quality tallow from grass fed cows and make this recipe!
- ¼ cup tallow
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 16 drops lavender essential oil
- Melt tallow in a double boiler
- Remove from heat and add olive oil and essential oil
- Mix until incorporated with whisk or blend with immersion blender
- Makes one 4oz jar worth
I use this tallow balm on my body and I swear my skin has never been so soft. Because tallow is so compatible with the composition of our skin it is easily absorbed, although it does take a few minutes, and it doesn’t leave a greasy feeling on your skin. And I promise you won’t smell like a steak!
I buy my beef tallow from a local farm, Sand Creek Farm, but you can also order it online from U.S. Wellness Meats or Fatworks. In my experience, buying tallow from a local farm or at your local farmer’s market is typically the best and least expensive option.
If you’re interested in trying out a tallow based lotion but you aren’t a big fan of DIYing check out this body balm from Vintage Tradition which is pretty similar to my recipe, or this face cream from FATface Skincare that contains some other beneficial oils and essential oils in addition to tallow. And if rubbing beef fat on your face just doesn’t appeal to you, I have other lotion recipes made from plant based oils I’d be happy to share as well. Leave me a comment and let me know if you try this or if you’d prefer a plant based alternative!
In vibrant health,