Beef Tallow Skin Lotion

21 Jun

Since going paleo, I have gradually been “cleaning up” all sorts of products in my life as well as my food. I now wash my hair with baking soda rather than shampoo, and wash it far less often than I used to (I do now use small amounts of regular conditioner, as the apple cider vinegar rinses never really worked well with my hair and I got tired of the smell). I’ve switched to using physical sun protection instead of sunscreen as often as I can. I barely wear any makeup (unless I have a dance performance, in which case you gotta layer that shit on xP). But my pride and joy has been developing a skin care routine based on all-natural, homemade products.

About a month ago, a post on What Should We Call Paleo Life referenced my homemade beef-tallow lotion and many people expressed interest in the recipe, so I decided that this would be great material for one of my first posts on this new companion blog. I started making lotions after getting bored with plain coconut oil. It’s great for the skin, there’s no question about that, but it’s rather greasy and can leave a stale smell after awhile. I looked around online and saw recipes recommending mixing the coconut oil with things like cocoa and shea butter (for better absorption) and essential oils (for better scents.) I played around with these recipes for awhile and generally liked the results, but I didn’t think about beef tallow until one of the girls I dance with bought a small jar of Vintage Tradition tallow-based body balm.

Everyone was impressed with its quality, absorption, and effectiveness, and I was surprised that the ingredients were nothing more than tallow, olive oil, and essential oils. I knew with my new Paleo DIY Powers I could try and make a similar lotion myself. I still enjoyed my plant-oil based lotions, though, so I decided to try just adding beef tallow to my recipe. My results were amazing.

So without further ado, the recipe:

Lotion Ingredients


  • 1/2 Cup organic grass-fed beef tallow (loosely packed)
  • 1/4 Cup cocoa butter (loosely packed)
  • 1/4 Cup shea butter (loosely packed)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 Teaspoon vitamin E oil
  • 1 Teaspoon jojoba oil
  • 1 Teaspoon pure organic vanilla extract

Now, the thing is that besides the beef tallow (which, of course, would be integral to making a beef tallow lotion) all the rest of these ingredients are pretty much optional. Cocoa butter and shea butter can get kind of expensive, so if you wanted to leave them out that would be fine. Also note that all of these oils absorb slightly differently into the skin, and some might work better for some people’s skin than others. For example, tallow and cocoa butter are fairly “hard” oils, meaning that they are densely packed saturated fats, and—partly because of this—I find they absorb really well without much of a greasy residue. Shea butter is softer but also absorbs well, and coconut oil is very soft but (on me) does not absorb well. So feel free to play around with figuring out proportions you like.

Make sure to get the highest quality beef tallow you can find, since a lot of the toxins and bad fats found in grain-fed meat concentrate in the fats. You can even try and render it yourself; I did at first, but I wound up cooking it too long and the tallow had a “beefy” smell. I tried making lotion out of it anyway, hoping the other scents would cover up the smell, but that plan didn’t work and I didn’t like the smell (even though dogs looooooved it). So instead I bought some clean tallow from my butcher, and since that entire container you see there cost $3.50 I think it was worth the investment.

In my recipe, the vanilla extract is for scent. Feel free to substitute other essential oils that you might like better.


  • Double boiler or a small clean pot
  • Bowl
  • Hand mixer
  • Jar to store the lotion in
  • Clean spatula

You could simply throw all of the oils in a small saucepan and melt them down, but double boilers are a good way to melt the oils over an even, low temp (since heating them too hot might cause some of the oils to oxidize). For awhile I simply jury-rigged a double boiler by putting a glass bowl inside a pot of water, but when I realized I was making lotions regularly I decided to invest in the small double boiler I have linked above.

For a jar, I found a lidded ceramic sugar bowl at the thrift store. Also, since of course I don’t bake anymore, I had to get a hand mixer specifically for this task, so I ended up getting the cheapest I could find (though I now also use it to mix mashed sweet potatoes and the batter for almond bread).



Put all of your ingredients in the double boiler. Place the double boiler in a small sauce pan filled about halfway full of water. Heat the water over medium-low heat and gently stir the oils with the spatula. Some of the oils will melt right away, some of them (like the tallow) will take a little longer. Keep the water heating slowly and stir until all the clumps have melted and you’re left with a lovely golden, clear liquid. Turn off the stove and pour the melted oils into the bowl.



Let the oil cool, ideally on the counter-top, but if you’re impatient like me you can also put it straight in the fridge. Note, though, that a small pool of hot oil will heat up your fridge as it cools down, so don’t do this if you’re working with a lot of oil or you have things in the fridge you’re worried about spoiling (i.e., don’t put it next to your meat!) If you let it cool on the counter first, then put it in the fridge once it starts to approach room temperature.



If you let it cool all the way at once, what you’ll get is a hard-packed lump of solid oils. This is fine, but its a little hard to scoop out and spread on your skin. So what I like to do is whip it periodically while it is cooling. This will emulsify some air bubbles into the mixture and make it soft enough so that even when the oils have cooled completely, they’ll still be able to move around.

WARNING: If you have followed my recipe, then it will smell and look like you are making frosting, because of the vanilla and the cocoa. 😉 (In fact, in all likelihood, frostings were probably made with tallow once upon a time, before it was replaced with oh-so-healthy vegetable shortenings and trans fats). Go ahead and taste it if you’d like to remind you it’s not actually frosting; everything in this recipe is technically edible except the jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is a type of lipid called a wax ester, which we cannot really digest properly, and it can make people sick in large enough amounts. This is such a small amount through that if you just taste it you will be fine.



Store at room temperature away from heat and light. Tallow is pretty stable, but some of these other oils might eventually go rancid. Frankly, though, I go through mine fast enough that I’ve never really worried about it (this jar will last me 2-3 months). It might settle a little bit over time, but it should still be soft and scoopable.

So there you have it! If you decide to give it a try, please let me know if you come up with any other interesting combinations or added scents!


8 Responses to “Beef Tallow Skin Lotion”

  1. Kristen O September 29, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    i love this recipe. I make a similar tallow balm for my product line, Where’s The Beef? Skincare.
    I want to also thank you for this website! I’e been slowly following a Paleo diet, and TPL has become a great resource 🙂

  2. Mrs. O October 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    How do you prevent the tallow ‘clumps’ from happening? How long do you have to whip it in the mixer before it is completely smooth? My cream is still has bits of tallow clumps in it that i can’t get out completely.did I do something wrong?

    • Colleen October 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

      Hmm, I’ve never had it clump. Make sure that when melting the tallow and oil mixture down that it is completely melted to a clear, golden color. Thus when it starts to set, all the oils will set evenly. If its still forming clumps, it could possibly be from impurities in the tallow itself. I only ever need to whip it for a minute or two, but usually in stages. Let it cool in the fridge for awhile so its just starting to set, whip so that small air bubbles for. Let cool longer, whip for a few minutes again again. Let cool longer, repeat until it holds the consistency I want.

  3. janet October 8, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    where is the best place to get rendered tallow?

    • Corvidae October 9, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      I get mine from my local butcher. If you can’t find a butcher in your area who makes it, you might check online; tallow is fairly shelf-stable so there may be some companies that make it for shipment.

  4. janet November 5, 2014 at 6:42 am #

    I made your recipe and found it very effective with helping dry skin. However, it whipped beautifully, but once it totally cooled it was pretty hard in the container. Any suggestions to make it a creamier consistency?

    • Colleen November 5, 2014 at 8:47 am #

      Without chemical additive emulsifiers, it will settle a bit. I usually whipe it two or three times during the cooling process to get as much air in there as possible before it sets. Are you keeping it at room temperature? If the temperature of the room is cooler that might make it firmer.


  1. Tasty Treats | Oh, Twinkle. - November 8, 2013

    […] to do with… and interestingly enough, you can turn it into a beauty balm! This Paleo Life has an excellent DIY recipe for beef tallow skin lotion. Admittedly, I haven’t tried it myself but I am a sucker for all-natural beauty products and […]

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