To be fair, this is not the first weird beauty thing. There's been urine, bee venom, "vampire" blood, placenta and even a highly toxic bacteria that could kill you (that's Botox, by the way), and those were just in the past couple of years. But beef fat, also known as tallow, is the most recent trend to jump from your plate to your face. And it might just be the grossest yet.
Now before you get all horrified, here are some facts: That stuff has actually been used as a natural emollient for eons. Back in the days when nothing was wasted, our ancient foremothers used tallow to make candles, soap, cleaners and, yes, lotions and even lip balms. All natural, you say? Indeed. There are no harsh chemicals like sulfates and phthalates, and using cow parts does sound a lot more wholesome than oil-based petroleum products (that's what Vaseline is!).
And while you could, I suppose, just buy a nice steak and smoosh it around — dinner and a spa treatment! — most people render the fat first, a process which clarifies it, and then use it as a base for other ingredients, like herbs, scents and other emollients. Proponents say you must use only the fat of grass-fed and pastured cows, as their higher nutrient profile will enhance your skin, and the fat, factory-farmed animal is full of harmful hormones and antibiotics. They say the end result is a smooth, non-beef-scented, light face cream. (And hey, if you start with a milk facial and follow it with a whipped cream body butter, then you'll get the full bovine experience!)
That said, a lot of the claims on breathless blogs and beauty sites may not be true. While beef fat is definitely moisturizing, any other sells — like saying it's anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial or anti-aging — don't have any science and very little experience to back them up, LA-based dermatologist Karen Stolman told Racked.
"Tallow is made up of fatty acids, so it would only fit in the emollient category," Stolman says. Because of its molecular structure, the antioxidants that exist in tallow sit on the surface of the skin and are unable to penetrate to where they can do the most good.
Still, when it comes to smearing something on my face — a necessity for cold winter weather — this sounds intriguing. Black smelly goo, or Sunday dinner? It's a hard choice!
Would you try this?
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