My favorite skincare ingredient is animal fat. Yeah, us homesteaders are an odd bunch…
As homesteaders, we brave the elements to pursue our passion and at times those conditions can be a bit unforgiving on our bodies.
We care for animals in the dead of winter and tend our gardens under the scorching summer sun. In time, these things can take a toll on the body, and they can leave us with dry skin and cracked, callused hardworking hands.
The good news is that these minor skin irritations caused by tough homesteading conditions and weather can be fixed with a little self-care and animal fat (that’s right I said animal fat). Rendered animal fat (especially tallow) has been used for generations in different household items including skincare products.
So let’s take a deep dive into the DIY world so you can learn how to use tallow to create your own body butter to help with that cracked dry skin that the homesteading life has left you with (which I firmly believe is a small price to pay while pursuing our homesteading passions).
What is Tallow?
Tallow is most commonly rendered beef fat, but it can also be made from other ruminant animals. Tallow can also be made from goat fat, sheep fat, and even deer fat.
Rendering animal fat is a natural process that causes the oils to melt away from the tissue when heated. Tallow is the liquid oil left behind; as it cools it becomes solid and appears as a hard oil block.
If you are interested in rendering your own fat rather than buying the finished product, you can learn How to Render Tallow right here.
Using Tallow Throughout History
Our ancestors traditionally let nothing go to waste, including animal fat that was rendered into tallow. Throughout history, tallow has been used for cooking and also for making many household products. As time went on, tallow and other animal fats were deemed bad for cooking, and so they disappeared from both our kitchen and our other household items.
Learn more about the history of animal fats in my Old-Fashioned on Purpose podcast episode here.
Tallow was used for:
- Cooking Oil
- Candles ( Learn How to Make Tallow Candles)
- Soap (my Tallow Soap Recipe is simple and a great DIY project)
- Skincare Products
Using tallow to create these natural DIY products is another step you can take toward self-sustainability and independence. Plus, it’s both fun to make your own household products and empowering to learn how to use all the parts of an animal so that there’s no waste.
Using Tallow for Skincare
Tallow is animal fat that has been used in cooking for generations, but perhaps it came as a surprise to you to learn that it can also be used as a skincare product.
Allow me to assure you here that you are not moisturizing with cooking oil and you won’t smell like beef fat if you use natural tallow skincare products. Tallow is a great moisturizer that naturally rebuilds your skin with many extra benefits.
Tallow Skincare Product Benefits:
- Does not clog your pores
- Is a natural moisturizer
- Rich in vitamins and omegas
- Has a similar molecular makeup to skin cells
- Is completely natural
- Has a long shelf life
If you are interested in learning more about using animal fat for skincare, you will love listening to this episode from The Old Fashioned on Purpose Podcast: How to Opt-Out of Toxic Mainstream Skincare.
By the way, if you are not interested in making your own tallow body butter, you can always buy some tallow balm from my friend Emily’s store (see podcast episode link above to listen to me and Emily talk about skincare). Check out Toups & Co. Organics Tallow Balms here.
One skincare product that can easily be made in your kitchen is tallow body butter. Tallow body butter a simple DIY project that takes a few ingredients and very little time.
How to Make Tallow Body Butter
Ingredients Needed to Make Tallow Body Butter:
- 16 oz of Tallow – Grass-Fed Sourced or Bought Tallow is fine or you can render your fat (learn how to render tallow here)
- 4 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (other liquid oils will also work; avocado oil is also a great choice)
Note: It must be liquid oil that does not harden at cool temps.
- Essential Oil (Optional) Adding essential oil isn’t necessary but it can help make your tallow body butter smell nice. Start with just a few drops of essential oils and add a few more drops at a time until you like the scent. Make sure you are using a good-quality essential oil company. I personally prefer using doTERRA essential oils.
- Arrowroot Powder (Optional) – Tallow body butter can sometimes feel slightly greasy, and adding arrowroot powder can help reduce the greasy texture and the skin absorb the butter. Add the arrowroot powder 1 tsp at a time until you like the texture.
Equipment Needed to Make Tallow Body Butter:
- Sauce Pan
- Medium Mixing Bowl
- Wooden Spoon
- Hand-Held Mixer (any mixer will work, but a hand-held one is best)
- Glass Jar(s)
Making Tallow Body Butter Instructions:
Step 1: If you are using stored or bought tallow, you will need to heat it in a saucepan until it is all in liquid form. Stir the tallow as you heat to help melt down large clumps. Once in liquid form, pour it into your mixing bowl.
If you are using freshly rendered tallow that is already in liquid form, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve (it helps remove any random bits) into your mixing bowl.
Step 2: Allow the liquid tallow to cool to room temperature, but not to the point it has started to harden again. Once cool, add your olive oil (or other liquid oil).
Step 3: Stir with a wooden spoon to combine the tallow and oil mixture. After a few stirs, place the mixture into the refrigerator until solid.
Step 4: Remove the solid tallow mixture from the fridge, and let it warm up a bit at room temperature; this will make it easier to whip.
Step 5: Using your hand-held mixer, whip the tallow and oil mixture until it appears fluffy. It will resemble whipped cake frosting.
NOTE: This is when you can add the (optional) arrowroot powder, which helps reduce the possible greasy feeling/texture of your tallow balm. If you’re adding it, add the arrowroot powder 1 tsp. at a time. After adding 1 tsp. of it, whip the mixture again until the powder is fully incorporated and then test the texture of the product on your skin. Add up to another 1 tsp. of powder if so desired, and make sure you whip the mixture again until everything is fully mixed.
NOTE: This is also when you can add the (optional) essential oils. Start with just a few drops of your favorite essential oils, then whip it until fully incorporated, and then test the scent of your tallow body butter to see if it needs more.
Step 6: Scoop the tallow body butter into glass jars for storage. You can store your body butter for up to 5-6 months in a dark, cool place. Be sure to label your jars.
When you are ready to try your tallow body butter out, keep in mind that a little goes a long way.
Nourish Your Skin with Tallow Body Butter
Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your animals and garden. Homesteading is hard work and it can be hard on one’s body. Remember a little self-care can go a long way and you can use all-natural homemade products to help.
Do you have any other self-care tips or DIY natural products recommendations for the hardworking homesteader?
Also, don’t forget to check out Emily Toup’s skincare products! Toups & Co. Organics: http://toupsandco.com/ Make sure you check out her Tallow Balms section! I love her products SO much.
More DIY Skincare Ideas:
Can you use pig fat?
Kayla- Prairie Homestead Assistant says
I’ve seen recipes for lard lotion and moisturizer, so I don’t see why you couldn’t use lard here.
She recommends beef tallow, lard is made with pork fat. I’ve made her body care recipes as the recipe are written and I’ve not been disappointed. Personally, I wouldn’t substitute. Amazon has good prices if I can’t find beef tallow in our stores.
I LOVE making tallow balm and have been doing it for 3-4 years now. with home rendering tallow. I’m looking forward to trying your ratios as well as the addition of the arrowroot power, as I do find it a little greasy for my everyday use. I love it on my hands and face before bed. Also, did I miss the print recipe option on this blog post? Thanks so much!
Hi! Does adding too much arrowroot dry the skin? I may have been not measuring everything so I may have gotten the ratio wrong. The first week of using my tallow my hands were fine, but the second week they got really dry. The only thing I could think that would cause it would be the arrowroot perhaps.
Cris - Prairie Homestead Team says
Hmmm…maybe? Everything I’m reading says that arrowroot won’t dry out the skin, but if you think you added WAY too much of it, that might be reason.
I can’t wait to try this!!! Spring time is when I get super inspired to make all the skin care things for healthy summer skin!! Thank you!!
Any ideas on where to buy tallow if you don’t own a cow? We’ve tried to buy it from the farm where we buy all of our beef but were told that it’s illegal for them to sell it.
I don’t know if anyone would disagree but I don’t have access to tallow but I bought some on Amazon and it made an AMAZING body butter. I love it.
Most butchers are happy to give you their beef fat scraps to render it into tallow. Just did it ourselves today. I wouldn’t recommend giving Amazon business, they are extremely unethical.
Just ask your butcher at the grocery store (one that sells good meat, not a Safeway or Kroger type place) if they have any leftover beef fat you can come pick up (or that they can set aside for you). My husband is a butcher and always sets some aside for us and any customer who asks, as beef fat never gets used in the meat dept (pork fat goes into sausage making) so this is one less thing for them to dispose of!
What happens if it’s older than 6 months on the shelf?
Made some today and despite adding a lot of the essential oils, it still smells very beefy/tallow-y…. hoping the lingering beef smell dissipates as it cools as this was for a gift. Is it normal for there to be a strong odor to this? I might have to just rummage up more shea butter for my gift..darn.
Cris - Prairie Homestead Team says
It is not normal for properly rendered tallow to smell beefy at all. Did you purchase tallow somewhere or make it yourself? Either way, my hunch is that the tallow was not rendered correctly.
Kristin Hoskins says
16 ounces in weight correct? Not 2 cups?
Cris - Prairie Homestead Team says
No, it means cups. 2 cups.
Mackenzie Conway says
Hello! I loved this episode!! I have a question about vegetable glycerin. I was planning to make Jill’s dish soap and want something more gel-like. But I’m concerned about whether this ingredient fits into non-toxic/Weston A Price. It seems closely related to seed oils. I’m having a hard time finding more information about this ingredient and would love your insight.
I see the comment about pig lard above, but I’m curious if anyone tried this recipe using pig lard? I raise pigs . . .
I used it to make Dr Shook’s Pneumonia salve and it did not smell at all, has a good texture and doesn’t separate. I would try it for a regular butter too.
Regina Giles says
Do you sell your tallow balm online?
Cris - Prairie Homestead Team says
Jill does not sell her tallow balm, but you can buy it from her fave company: http://theprairiehomestead.com/makeup