Beef tallow has been going viral on TikTok as a moisturizing ingredient for cosmetics. Some users proclaim that it's a cheap and effective moisturizer that is free of the unhealthy additives in some commercial moisturizers.
But has beef tallow been shown in clinical studies to improve skin quality? Are there any risks to using beef tallow on the face or body? How do real beef tallow moisturizer users rate and describe its effects? And which brand makes the best beef tallow moisturizer?
In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze clinical studies on beef tallow in skincare to give our take on whether or not it's likely to have a moisturizing effect.
We'll discuss potential risks and side effects, and feature unsponsored user reviews.
Does Beef Tallow Moisturize Skin?
Most of the arguments for beef tallow in skincare relate to the component qualities of beef tallow, such as fatty acids, triglycerides, vitamin E and cholesterol.
Essential fatty acids were shown to improve skin hydration and skin elasticity in individuals with a poor diet, in a 1997 clinical trial.
Vitamin E is clinically shown to protect the skin from sun damage, as we documented in our Fiera Cosmetics review article.
Vitamin E was also shown to have a skin-hydrating effect in a clinical trial published in a German journal.
Cholesterol was shown to maintain skin hydration when applied topically, in a clinical trial published in the Experimental Dermatology journal.
While some of the component nutrients in beef tallow are clinically shown to be hydrating and to improve skin quality, we can't find studies showing beef tallow in isolation to have a hydrating effect.
A 2017 clinical trial found that tallow combined with walnut oil had skin-moisturizing properties, but this doesn't necessarily prove that tallow in isolation does.
Overall, we consider beef tallow likely effective for moisturizing the skin given the research backing for some of its component nutrients.
We didn't come across any evidence of safety risks in regard to topical beef tallow use in our review of existing clinical studies.
Dermatologist on Beef Tallow
A dermatologist and YouTube creator named "Dr Dray" has a video that explores the trend of beef tallow for skincare:
What Type of Tallow to Select
For consumers planning to purchase a beef tallow, skincare product, we recommend choosing one with its tallow derived from pastured animals.
Grass-fed beef is more nutrient-dense than grain-fed beef according to a medical review published in the Nutrition Journal. It logically follows that beef tallow sourced from grass-fed animals should be more nutrient-dense as well.
This is especially important in regard to skincare products, because as we outlined in the initial section of this article, it's the individual nutrients which have more research backing for moisturizing effect than beef tallow as a whole product.
When choosing a beef tallow brand, look for the wording "grass-fed" or "pastured." Both are regulated terms indicating that the animal has access to pasture which is its natural environment.
If a cosmetics brand fails to indicate whether or not their animal products are derived from pastured or conventionally-raised animals, we generally assume the latter.
Real People Try Tallow on Skin
A YouTube creator named "Wild Mother" claims to have experienced cosmetic benefits from using skincare with tallow:
A TikTok creator named Meagan claims that beef tallow improved her skin quality, and includes before-and-after images:
@selfcareessential i will use beef tallow on my face until i die #skintransformation #acneproneskincare #beeftallow #beeftallowskincare #allnaturalskincare #clearskin #glassskin ♬ Only You X Playdate - ded4$$
Our Clean Tallow Skincare Pick
Kushi Whipped Tallow Cream is our top tallow skincare pick.
The main ingredient in this moisturizer is beef tallow sourced from grass-fed and grass-finished cows.
Organic lavender essential oil is the only other ingredient, and was shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on skin in a 2020 clinical trial.
Interested consumers can check out Kushi Whipped Tallow Cream at this link to the product page on the brand's official website.