We use lotion bars all the time at our house. The concept is great- a bar that looks like soap but that you use on dry skin like lotion. I’ve even customized them to make sunscreen lotion bars, bug off lotion bars, and pain relief lotion bars.
All of those recipes are natural and safe even for sensitive skin and babies (though I wouldn’t use the pain relief on on small children), but I’ve had several readers ask about what to do if they couldn’t use coconut oil due to an allergy. After some experimentation I figured out another lotion bar recipe that is our new favorite and that is excellent for any skin issues.
It uses a surprising ingredient… tallow!
From the WAPF:
“As we have already seen, our ancestors overwhelmingly used tallow for skin care. For example, a book of “recipes” for all facets of life, written by Dr. A.W. Chase, MD in 1866, lists ten formulations of salve, eight of which contain tallow, in addition to other natural ingredients.17 This same medical doctor quotes the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal of his day on using pure tallow for a “very common and very painful affliction,” an ingrown toenail. Even though this use is a very specific one, it is included here as being a strong testimonial on the healing power of tallow:”
“From biology, we know that the cell membrane is made up primarily of fatty acids, a double layer, to be exact. Saturated fats constitute at least 50 percent of the cell membrane. Since saturated fats tend to be more solid than unsaturated fats at a given temperature, they help give the cell membrane its necessary stiffness and integrity for proper function.20 The monounsaturated fats, while not as “solid” as the saturated fats, are more so than the polyunsaturated fats which are also present in the cell membrane in their own proper proportion, although the modern diet leads to a disproportionate amount of the polyunsaturates. Healthy, “toned” skin cells with sufficient saturated and monounsaturated fats would undoubtedly make for healthy, toned skin. Interestingly, tallow fat is typically 50 to 55 percent saturated, just like our cell membranes, with almost all of the rest being monounsaturated,21 so it makes sense that it would be helpful for skin health and compatible with our cell biology.
In regard to this compatibility of tallow with the biology of our skin, we should note that we are animals rather than plants, so the modern taboo against animal products in skin care products would seem unfounded and even illogical. In addition to containing very little saturated fats, plant products do not have the same levels of other nutrients needed for healthy skin. Tallow contains the abundant natural fat-soluble activators, vitamins A, D, and K, as well as vitamin E, which are found only in animal fats and which are all necessary for general health and for skin health.
Tallow (especially tallow from grass-fed animals) also contains fats like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has anti-cancer24 and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as palmitoleic acid, which has natural antimicrobial properties.25 Dr. Mary Enig cites a 2006 study on fats showing that CLA, which is found in high concentrations in tallow, has significant anti-cancer effects, and that supplying tallow increased those effects due its palmitic acid, another fatty acid.26″
What We Noticed:
I admit that I was a little apprehensive about using tallow on my skin at first, but after trying it, it is now a regular part of my skin care routine. It is amazing how silky it makes skin and it is really effective at soothing skin irritation.
I’ve also found (probably due to the natural SPF in the shea butter and the fat soluble vitamins in the tallow) that these lotion bars are an excellent mild skin protector for short term sun exposure and they seem to help the skin tan without any redness (this coming from an Irish girl).
Tallow lotion bars also seem to really help skin healing as they have worked wonders on my son’s eczema scars and a scratch on one child’s face (a gift from a sibling).
- ⅓ cup beef tallow from a healthy source (I get mine here)
- ⅓ cup shea butter, cocoa butter or mango butter
- 2 Tablespoons beeswax (can add an extra ounce or two if you want a thicker consistency, which leaves less lotion on the skin when used)
- 20+ drops of essential oils of choice (note: some, like citrus oils, will increase skin sensitivity)- these are optional.
- Combine all ingredients except essential oils in a quart size glass mason jar and carefully place this jar in a small saucepan of water on the stove.
- Turn the burner on and bring water to a low simmer. Stir ingredients constantly until they are melted and smooth.
- Remove from heat and stir in the essential oils.
How To Use Lotion Bars
Store in a cool or dry place for up to six months (I’ve even had some last as long as a year).
To apply to skin: hold bar in hand and carefully rub on dry skin. The heat of the skin will transfer some of the lotion bar to the skin. I store my lotion bars on a small plate on my dresser and bathroom counter.
Carefully pour into molds or whatever you will be allowing the lotion bars to harden in. I used these silicon loaf molds, though any mold would work.
Allow the lotion bars to cool completely before attempting to pop out of molds. These could be made in different shaped molds or made in a square baking pan and then cut into actual bars.
Don’t Want To Make Them?
If you want to use lotion bars but don’t have the time/ingredients to make them yourself, I found a great small business, Made On, that makes all kinds of lotion bars, soaps, natural baby products and hair products that are up to my standards. Their website is HardLotion.com and they have agreed to give Wellness Mama readers a 15% discount on all orders with the code “wellnessmama” at this link. (Note: Affiliate link… the price is discounted for you and I get a small commission to support my blog!)
Do you make lotion bars or purchase from the store? Ever used tallow as an ingredient in your skin care? Share below!