What Is Beef Tallow? (What It Is + Why You're Going to Love Tallow for Skin)
Over the last few decades, fat has become a dirty word.
It’s been shunned and removed from foods that need it. As Americans, we’ve been advised to eliminate it from our diets at all costs. We’ve been told that fat is bad, that we should be terrified and stay far away it if we want to live a long healthy life. So, it’s no surprise that most people probably haven’t heard of beef tallow or using tallow for skin.
But did you know our bodies are not meant to function without fats? Our bodies are meant to contain somewhere between 18.5 and 24.9% fat.1 Healthy fats are actually beneficial AND essential to your overall health at a cellular level.
Thankfully, the narrative around fat is turning around. It’s not quite as taboo as it used to be. Many functional doctors, nutritionists, and health activists have restored fat to its rightful place: as an important staple in a healthy, balanced diet.
But beyond diet, fat is returning (and regaining its reputation) for our entire body function – even our skin! So what is tallow?
It’s a form of fat, as you’ve probably gathered by now. But let’s dive deeper so you can understand why we love tallow for skin health.
The truth about fat is out. And there’s no turning back – but in the best way. ;)
What Is Tallow?
Beef tallow is a form of rendered fat that comes from gently extracting extra fat deposits after processing cow meat. The fat is slowly melted to preserve nutrients and separate it from the interior fat tissue, called suet.
It’s solid at room temperature, usually sold in a jar like coconut oil or as a solid beef tallow block. Its melting point is between 100-118°F.2
History of Tallow
If you’ve never heard of beef tallow, it has a long and rich history. For staters, tallow was one of the original oils used for cooking.
Traditional Uses for Beef Tallow
Beef tallow has a variety of uses, from cooking to moisturizing to candle and soap-making.
In cooking, beef tallow is rich in flavor, high in beneficial fats, and has a high temp smoking point, making it versatile for a variety of dishes.
When used for cooking, beef tallow provides fatty acids and cholesterol that:
Fuel your brain function + brain health
Produce hormones that regulate appetite, body weight, mood, and more
Help your body function optimally – on a cellular level
And for us? We believe tallow for skin is a game changer.
Tallow for Skin
But first: here’s something essential to know if you’re going to use tallow for skin purposes: the most beneficial type of beef tallow is from grass-fed cows.
Why? Simply put, using this type of tallow for skin provides the densest concentration of nutrients. Just like eating an organic and clean diet is exponentially more nutritious than genetically modified foods filled with seed oils.
Grass-fed tallow is what will change your skin for the better.
Grass-fed cows produce tallow full of vitamins and minerals your skin needs to thrive.
Similar to cooking, beef tallow was the original moisturizer, nutrient-rich cream, and skincare product. Before the influx of man-made chemicals, toxins, and unnatural substances in skincare, tallow played a prominent role. It was in almost every skincare product developed and used by our ancestors.
A book of “recipes” for all facets of life, written by Dr. A.W. Chase, MD, in 1866, lists ten formulations of salve, eight of which contain tallow.5
We can talk all day about its benefits, but we’re backing it up with proof. Let’s look at the actual nutrient and vitamin breakdown so you can see why tallow for skin is our favorite.
Nutrient Content You Gain From Using Tallow for Skin
Tallow contains high concentrations of fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, and K in a balanced combination with their activators. This is a big reason why beef tallow has such a profound impact on your skin + overall health.
Grass-fed tallow also contains Vitamin E (four times as much as grain-fed cows). It even has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties thanks to high concentrations of essential fatty acids your skin needs, like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and palmitoleic acid.
Here’s how each of these vitamins helps your skin:
- Vitamin A – Encourages the production of collagen, elastin, and healthy skin cells. This helps strengthens tissue to keep skin firm, smooth and youthful. On top of that, it has the ability to heal a variety of skin issues, like acne. It can also help slow down the effects of aging on your skin. (You might recognize Vitamin A from products like Retin-A.)
- Vitamin D – Contributes to skin cell development, repair, metabolism, and immune function. It’s able to protect and rejuvenate your skin by protecting against free radicals that cause premature aging.
- Vitamin K – Plays an important role in skin tone, texture, and overall health. It can soothe skin inflammation and irritation while helping speed up your healing.
- Vitamin E – Repairs and reverses free radical damage. This powerful antioxidant can deeply hydrate and promote healing in your skin’s physical appearance.
Pretty impressive, right?
Here’s some of the science behind why using tallow for skin works so well:
→ Beef tallow is incredibly effective in improving skin cell health due to the similar makeup it has to our skin. Our cell membranes are mostly fatty acids, with at least 50% being saturated fats. Tallow is also made up of about 50% saturated fats – with the remaining being monounsaturated fats.
Having such a similar makeup means that beef tallow is incredibly compatible with our cell biology. This translates to a powerful experience that nourishes and boosts our cell health.
And as you know, skin health starts at a cellular level.
→ Another indication of its positive impact on our skin is its similarity to sebum. Sebum is the oily, waxy substance that moisturizes, lubricates, and protects your skin. Both sebum and tallow are mainly comprised of triglycerides (which have effective emollient + skin-replenishing properties).
Fun fact: Sebum even translates to “tallow” in Latin!
There's little to do on your end to include tallow in your skincare, especially if it's in your products. But whether beef tallow is an ingredient in one of your skincare products or an added part of your skincare, let’s cover the best ways to use tallow for skin + what to know.
Application Tips for Tallow
Now that we’ve covered the details let’s zoom back a bit to be sure you can get the most out of this nutrient-dense fat. Here are some of our best application tips for using tallow for skin.
- A little bit goes a long way, as it’s super pure and concentrated (unlike watered-down lotions).
- Tallow is safe + effective for every area of the body (even for babies!).
- Spritz before and after for a radiant glow instead of an oily complexion some rich moisturizers can give your skin.
- Stay away from tallow from conventionally-raised cows. Toxins from poorly raised cattle can settle in their fat tissue – gross! (Only choose tallow from grass-fed cows.)
Ready to dive in?
You’ll find tallow in our:
They all contain a beautifying blend of responsibly sourced animal fats + organic plant oils. Though they come from different sources, they work together to deeply moisturize and nourish the skin. Our skin needs these nutrients and fats together in order to stay healthy, elastic, and balanced.
Taking a Page From Historical Beauty Standards
Using tallow for skin (and more) has been a long-standing tradition and powerful healing ingredient for centuries. This is why many of our Primally Pure products contain this precious element.
With everything we know about tallow, we love to see this incredibly nourishing, vitamin-rich form of pure, rendered animal fat making a big comeback in skincare.
Beef tallow for beautiful skin doesn’t seem so strange anymore, does it?
Try it out – your skin will thank you!
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