My friend L. wrote to me the other day, and told me she was boiling beef tallow to use on her newborn’s dry patches, and that her husband, “as usual, thinks I’m insane.” While L. did have a natural birth and encapsulated her plancenta, she also lives in Manhattan and wears high heels and is actually a sorority sister of mine (yup, I was in one). So it appears that tallow is no longer just for the babes named Twig or Rainbow that my friends in Vermont are popping out. Tallow has made it to New York City!
I’ve been selling tallow soaps in our online store for a few years now, and they have a very devoted following. Here’s some of what makes tallow the Good Stuff:
- Tallow typically has a much smaller carbon footprint than do vegetable oils (palm oil in particular is implicated in massive deforestation). In the case of Tandi’s naturals (the tallow soaps we sell), the company is committed to using as many local ingredients as possible, and in Lancaster, PA, animal fats are the only suitable soap-making oils that “grow” locally.
- Tallow soap bars last longer than all-veggie ones, and have a fluffier, creamier lather.
- Those with sensitive skin love tallow soaps, as they are gentle and conditioning. In the words of Tandi herself (who makes soaps both with and without tallow): “Tallow lends a special quality to soap that can’t be obtained with only vegetable oils.”
- Tallow is more moisturizing than other oils. Our skin is made of mostly saturated fat, and tallow is made of mostly saturated fat. The lipids in tallow are the same as those in sebum, so tallow is super skin-friendly.
- Tallow contains a host of vitamins and other good stuff (much of which is missing from veggie oils). These include vitamins A, D, K, and E, plus conjugated linoleic acid and palmitoleic acid (anti-inflammatories and anti-microbials, respectively).
So, all that said, as a sorta vegetarian, the idea that there is beef in my soap DOES kind of give me the icks. (I’ve actually never even tried beef–it’s always grossed me out–but I do eat chicken and fish.) I’ll often use tallow soap on the boys–both of whom love red meat, just like their dad–but use a nice bar of rainwater soap by Farmasthetics for myself. When I have used the tallow bar soaps, I have to admit that they are really fluffy, leave skin soft, and don’t smell even slightly of beef jerky (all of the Tandi’s soaps smelly incredible, actually.)
Some readers swear by rubbing tallow directly on their skin as an anti-aging night cream. I haven’t tried this yet, because like I said, I am still just slightly squeamish thinking about where it comes from. But if you want to go that route, here’s more.
Tandi does offer vegetarian soaps, and we sell a range of vegan bar soaps. But if you want to give tallow a try, here are some of my favorites:
Gentle Herb Soap is excellent for babies and those with sensitive skin. This mild soap is made with the soothing goodness of herbs, which vary by season and are gathered in the wild or grown by the soapmaker herself.
If you love the scent of the forest, this Siberian Fir Soap is for you. There is a touch of sweetness to its sumptuous, balsamic aroma, and sea clay, which is very rich in trace minerals, gives this soap a gorgeous green color. Cocoa butter adds extra nourishment for the skin. Great for all skin types.
People who are leery of patchouli generally like this lighter version of Patchouli Citrus Soap. This soap blends the earthiness of patchouli with the zest of citrus essential oils. Mineral-rich rhassoul and Moroccan red clay feed your skin while mango butter gives it a nourishing boost.
Lavender & Shea Dream Soap is our best-selling bar soap. Enriched with castor oil and unrefined shea butter, this soap is great for dry skin.