09 Feb HOW CAN TALLOW HELP YOUR SKIN?
If any skincare ingredient deserves a redemption arc, tallow is it. Over the last 50 years, tallow has become widely misunderstood, displaced by the rise in petrochemicals in skincare. And yet, it has been used in skincare for millennia across cultures, with a proven track record of protecting and regenerating the skin. Beef tallow specifically contains naturally occurring fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and B12, plus conjugated linoleic acid and niacin. Importantly, tallow contains fat-soluble vitamins and their activators which work together harmoniously to improve cell regeneration, fine lines, skin tone, and the appearance of UV-damaged skin. Naturally packed with a dense concentration of fatty acids, beef tallow increases hydration by bringing natural oil production back into balance. Today, modern science is starting to tell the story of what ancient healers already knew. Tallow can heal, nurture and protect the skin. It has earned its spot in modern day skincare. Read on for why tallow benefits so many different skin types.
Is tallow good for your skin?
Closely mimicking the fatty acids, vitamins, micronutrients and minerals found in human skin, tallow is good for your skin. It’s balanced and ‘skin-identical’ composition makes tallow incredibly compatible with different skin types. It has the ability to mimic your skin and improve skin health due to containing healthy fats which so closely match our own natural sebum. It’s especially beneficial for sensitive or dry skin. It keeps skin supple and can help speed up the regeneration of dry and cracked skin.
Traditional uses for beef tallow on skin
So, where did it all begin with tallow on your skin? In the scheme of history, for centuries, before the introduction of petrochemicals, First Peoples took a holistic approach to natural resources. Think beef tallow on your skin is a new thing? Despite tallow’s rising status, tallow in fact has a longstanding history across cultures and domains. Dating back to Roman times, tallow for skin care was a common practice, with the ingredient often used as a sustainable, regenerating skin protectant. From Ancient Egypt to Ancient Rome, the Inuits in the north, and Indigenous Australians in the south, our wise ancestors would respectfully harness animal fats for skincare, nutrition and cosmetics.
The lowdown on beef tallow for skin
As a rendered animal fat, beef tallow has a unique ability to mimic the skin. Applying tallow on your skin has the potential to reach deeper at a cellular level compared to many plant-based oils. It is a biomimetic ancient ingredient with a naturally balanced composition of antioxidants, fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. Tallow also contains an abundance of stratum corneum lipids, which are the ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids contained in the extracellular skin matrix. Tallow from grass fed cows is a nutrient dense fat with high concentrations of naturally occurring non-synthetic compounds. With a molecular structure so similar to skin, ‘tallow’ even translates to sebum in Latin. Your skin has met its match.
Is tallow safe for skin?
As a semi-occlusive skincare ingredient with emollient properties, tallow can be used as a balm, salve, or face and body moisturiser to hydrate, heal and protect the skin. As a balm or salve, tallow can be used to soften skin, help wound healing, and shield against environmental damage. With softening and hydrating properties, you can even use tallow products as lip balm. Absorbed quickly as a moisturizer, tallow functions like a barrier cream, best used as the last step in a skincare routine or left overnight. As a barrier cream on the skin’s surface, tallow may serve the purpose of a makeup primer, as no product applied afterwards will be able to penetrate the skin. Wondering if tallow is right for your skin? Let’s dive deeper into the benefits of grass fed tallow for skin.
Is tallow good for wrinkles?
Grass fed beef tallow contains Vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as their activators, to help with fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin E in particular plays an important role in delivering anti-ageing benefits. Vitamin E, among other fat-soluble nutrients, is found in much higher concentrations in grass fed and grass finished tallow, as opposed to grain fed tallow. Tallow from grass fed cows has four times the amount of Vitamin E as grain fed tallow, which helps to repair and reverse free radical damage. Damage from free radicals may cause collagen levels to deplete, resulting in wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots on aging skin. Adding just a touch of tallow can help reverse this. Essentially, reducing free radical exposure (or applying Vitamin E to reverses free radical damage) can be your ticket to younger, healthier looking skin.
Will tallow clog pores?
Purified tallow won’t clog pores for most people and has a low comedogenic score. It’s a common misconception that tallow will clog pores. In reality, tallow is unique compared to other skincare products, as an emollient with semi-occlusive properties. While tallow helps to create a protective barrier on your skin that locks in hydration, it doesn’t clog pores because of its innate ability to mimic your skin’s lipid barrier. With a rich fatty acid composition, bioavailability of niacin, and naturally occurring vitamins A and E, tallow is effective at working with your sebaceous glands to regulate oil production, support skin barrier function, and influence an anti-inflammatory response.
What are the benefits of tallow for skin?
1. Tallow protects against damage from free radicals due to fat soluble vitamins
Containing Vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as their activators, tallow can help with a range of skin issues, including preventing ageing. On its own, tallow also contains trace minerals such as selenium, which is used to treat skin conditions and provide protection from free radicals. Antioxidants help limit oxidative damage caused by free radicals which are linked to accelerated ageing. Free radicals are caused by environmental factors including air pollution, UVA and UVB rays, and exposure to toxins from every day inflammatory influences such as smoking, alcohol and sugar. They’re impossible to avoid. Vitamin D, when applied topically, has also been found to protect against phototoxicity and therefore slow signs of ageing in the skin. While further research is required into the benefits of using Vitamin D for skin health, it has a unique relationship with dermatology.
The Vitamin E factor
While tallow’s range of vitamins from A through to K help hydrate and nourish the skin, Vitamin E plays a particularly important role. Vitamin E is found in much higher concentrations in pasture-raised beef fat, as opposed to grain fed. With tallow from grass fed cows estimated to have four times the amount of Vitamin E as grain fed tallow, it has a unique ability to protect against free radical damage. (Note: The study cited might even be understating the Vitamin E content of tallow as it doesn’t specify the type of grass fed tallow.)
2. Tallow calms dry skin with essential fatty acids
With conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and niacin occurring naturally in beef tallow, it has anti-inflammatory properties to help combat eczema, rosacea, psoriasis and dermatitis. It works for sensitive skin, even for our youngest as a baby lotion. The high concentration of CLA in beef tallow skincare may help with redness, irritated skin, cracked skin, and very dry skin. Tallow skincare doesn’t discriminate on skin type. In Australia, approximately 2.5 per cent of the population (about 450,000 people) are affected by psoriasis. Worldwide, it’s estimated that 1 in 10 individuals will develop eczema during their lifetime. When it comes to rosacea, it’s estimated that more than 5 per cent of the adult population globally is affected. These conditions are typically defined as chronic inflammation. These figures don’t account for acute inflammation and dermatitis, which many others experience worldwide, connected to skin allergies, sensitivities and breakouts. Niacin, the active form of Vitamin B3, is absorbed readily by topical application and has a number of anti-inflammatory benefits in combating skin conditions. It shows promise in treating a range of dermatological conditions, including rosacea, psoriasis, dermatitis, and acne. As well as having antimicrobial properties, niacin is a humectant that can stimulate skin cell growth, wound healing, and the production of collagen. Adding to this, a study from 2017 showed that CLA has anti-inflammatory properties and may help relieve itchy skin and treat skin disorders. An even more recent study from 2020 showed potential for CLA to aid with skin barrier dysfunction, showing potential to relieve eczema and other skin lesions.
Supercharged skincare with CLA
Outside of beef tallow, CLA is otherwise difficult to find in nature, at least not in stable ingredients. Vegetable oils – including safflower oil, hempseed, rosehip and black cumin seed oils – all have higher levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which can cause oxidative stress and irritate the skin. Plus, according to a study by USDA’s Agricultural Research Center, pasture-raised cows had 500 per cent greater CLA levels compared to grain fed cows, factory farmed cattle and even cows who foraged.
3. Tallow supports healthy skin barrier function with saturated fats
While research may be limited on the impact of tallow specifically on treating skin conditions, there is evidence that the saturated fatty acids found in high concentrations in tallow may be effective at regulating skin barrier function. Saturated fat can help keep skin hydrated. Tallow performs the function of a barrier cream, complete with essential fatty acids that restore the skin barrier to its healthiest state. As they are naturally found in the skin, EFAs are gentle, skin identical and biocompatible with your skin. Around 47 per cent of the fatty acid composition of tallow is oleic acid. Because of its higher concentration of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acid content, it has a unique ability to preserve the effectiveness of more delicate ingredients such as antioxidants by helping to protect them from light and oxygen degradation. Similarly, stearic acid, found across other cosmetics and skincare is naturally occurring in tallow. Tallow’s high stearic acid content helps to repair a damaged skin barrier, improving suppleness of skin. It’s chalk and cheese with stearic acid when it comes to vegetable fat versus tallow. The cheese wins. (Always.) Furthermore, around 26 per cent of the fatty acid composition contained in tallow is palmitic acid. This saturated fatty acid is widely used in skincare, often added into the skincare product after the fact. In tallow, palmitic acid occurs naturally. Palmitic acid retains moisture by forming an occlusive layer. A study from 2019 found that palmitic acid helps improve the protective barrier function of the skin. This prevents unwanted microbes and pollutants from entering. In nature, it’s present in butter, cheese, milk, and meat, as well as cocoa butter, olive oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil.
4. Tallow may help with acne and acne scarring
Tallow skincare products may be good for oily skin or acne-prone skin due to a high fatty acid composition, bioavailability of niacin, and naturally occurring fat soluble Vitamins A and E. Fatty acids not only support skin barrier function, but they may also have anti inflammatory properties. You can use beef tallow for acne scars for this reason. Tallow contains naturally high levels of fatty acids found to lighten skin pigmentation which may occur in acne-prone skin. A natural retinol preventing future breakouts? While studies of topical application in clinical settings are limited, several studies suggest that grass-based diets in animals can help kickstart Vitamin A and E production. Grass fed tallow may even take a more yellowish appearance from the elevated carotenoid content, which indicates Vitamin A, a precursor to retinol. Vitamin A is known for helping our skin cells to turn over faster, which reduces acne and skin irritation. Meanwhile, the niacin occurring naturally in grass fed tallow is a powerful antioxidant that can improves the skin’s texture and tone. When applied topically, a recent study found that niacin stood up against topical antibiotics for the treatment of moderate acne.
5. Tallow is naturally compatible with your skin’s lipid barrier
Based on its composition, tallow is proven to mimic your skin. Given the molecular structure of our skin and its synergies with tallow, it may be considered a skin identical, even bioidentical, natural skincare ingredient with so many beneficial nutrients. Tallow skincare performs the function of acting as natural sebum, working with your skin’s natural oils, offering just the right amount of skin hydration. It works with your sebaceous glands to lock in moisture in your skin without clogging your pores. As a semi-occlusive moisturizing cream, tallow helps maintain a healthy skin barrier, while doubling as an emollient to penetrate your skin. Essentially, tallow works with your skin, helping bring out the best in your skin. This is incredibly nourishing skincare.
CURATED BY OZZIE SMALL