Why would you want to use tallow-based skincare?

Why would you want to use tallow-based skincare?

Tallow is often considered the original skincare ingredient. Throughout history the use of tallow to nourish, restore, and protect skin from even some of the harshest conditions dates back thousands of years. It has been used as the base for soaps, balms, lipsticks, and everything in between. 

But what is it and why should you use it?

Let's break it down:

What is tallow?

Tallow is melted animal fat - mostly coming from beef (beef tallow) or sheep (mutton tallow). Animal fat trimmings (or suet) are rendered and strained to get the vitamin-packed goodness we call tallow, which is then able to be used for cooking and in skincare products. 

History of Tallow

The earliest recorded use for tallow in cosmetics can be dated back to the Babylonians almost 5000 years ago, who utilized it for soapmaking. Its dependency and effectiveness meant it would continue to be a popular ingredient in cosmetics, only falling out of favor as the Industrial Revolution hit and companies valued mass production at a lower cost. Additionally, by the 1950s “fat free” was en vogue in American culture, casting a dark shadow on all fat products as the misconception grew that consuming fat of any kind would lead to negative health outcomes. These circumstances set the stage for a drift from raw, whole ingredients such as tallow to processed petroleum and water-based fillers for commercial skincare companies.

Benefits of Tallow for Human Skin

While our ancestors may not have known all the benefits of tallow for the human body, they must have known that when they used tallow products, good things happened. Modern science has confirmed that tallow shares similar oils with our skin, so it is an easily absorbed and highly beneficial moisturizer.

  1. Essential Vitamins

Vitamins A, B12, D, E, and K are a unique mix you can only find in animal products. Tallow has all of them and that helps to nourish our skin. Vitamin A plays a role in gene regulation, immunity, and vision. Vitamin B12 is required in the development, myelination, and function of the central nervous system as well as healthy red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, normal cellular growth and function maintains healthy immune function, and prevents excessive inflammation, which leads to many chronic illnesses. Vitamin E reduces the effects of aging, protects red blood cells, improves vitamin A absorption, and reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Vitamin K which is crucial in blood clotting. 

  1. Moisturizing

Tallow contains stearic and oleic acids that are also found in the outer layer of our skin. Stearic acid helps to improve skin flexibility and repairs it. Oleic acid helps important nutrients penetrate deep into our skin. 

  1. Anti-inflammatory

Tallow contains an ideal mix of alpha-linoleic (omega 3) & linoleic acids (omega 6) that have an anti-inflammatory effect on our skin and help with immune response. This is why our tallow honey balm is so effective on eczema. 

  1. Natural Anti-Aging

Tallow makes your skin look younger. Vitamin E in tallow helps protect the skin from UV light and is a potent antioxidant that also prevents collagen breakdown.

  1. Smooth, Healthy Skin

Palmatic acid helps improve the smoothness of skin while palmitoleic acid is an important skin antimicrobial, which can help prevent and treat infections. 

  1. Protects Skin From Damage

Vitamin D in tallow induces the expression of antimicrobial peptide genes in our skin. This helps to prevent infections that cause skin damage. 

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) found in grass-fed tallow, like what we use here at Cattle Driver Apothecary, has anti-cancer properties and is found in studies to have the possibility to prevent or cure breast cancer. 

That's why your tallow should always come from 100% grass-fed pasture-raised animals.

  1. You can eat it!

Your skin is a mouth. It has the ability to absorb anything applied to it intentionally or unintentionally into the bloodstream. If you are applying something to your skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth, you should seriously consider if you should apply it to your skin in the first place, especially if that product has a warning label and a phone number for poison control. 

But why did we stop using tallow?

Similar to many other natural remedies and ingredients tallow has been widely used until the start of the 20th century.

The rise of modern industry introduced seed oils into our diet which slowly replaced tallow, lard, and other natural fats with artificial products like Crisco.

Literal machine lubricants (seed oils or vegetable oils such as canola or sunflower oil) were added to common household products as well as our food. This didn’t have anything to do with health benefits, but rather to companies' bottom dollar.

Tallow is a natural product and every batch made is slightly different. Its structure, color, smell & appearance depends on the type of animal it’s coming from, its breed, the part of the body where fat is taken, diet, geographical location, and many other things.

This inability to fully regulate is why it is much easier and cheaper to produce with chemical products like vegetable seed oils. The product is consistent, but not beneficial. 

People are catching on!

More and more people are becoming aware of the lack of benefits in commercially produced foods and products and beginning to explore more useful options.

If you're looking for a place to start, don’t buy food or skincare products with seed oils and ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Always look for natural products with real ingredients. Tallow as the base for balms, soaps, and even deodorants is a sign that you’re getting the highest quality in the product.

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