Currently, no clinical studies have examined beef tallow specifically, but some have shown that parts of it may reduce skin inflammation.

Someone's with eczema holding a dish of tallow for a DIY balm.Share on Pinterest
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According to the National Eczema Foundation, roughly 31.6 million people in the United States live with eczema, a chronic, inflammatory skin condition. Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions in children. It affects around 10% of the U.S. population.

Eczema treatment typically involves using moisturizers, emollients, and other topical treatments to help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of flare-ups. Tallow is an ingredient with emollient properties that may help ease eczema symptoms when used topically.

Explore what the research says about the risks and benefits of using tallow for eczema, including how to make your own tallow body butter at home.

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes discolored, dry, itchy, or scaly skin. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, but several conditions fall under the “eczema umbrella.”

While there are various over-the-counter and prescription treatment options for eczema, one of the most important at-home treatments is moisturizing the skin ― and here’s why.

Moisture is an essential component of a strong, healthy skin barrier. However, people with eczema can have difficulty retaining skin moisture because of a weakened skin barrier. Over time, a cycle involving dry, itchy skin and eczema flare-ups can develop.

Emollients are one type of skin care product that can help lock moisture into the skin, which makes them especially beneficial for eczema. Some of the emollients include:

  • cream
  • lotion
  • ointment
  • gel
  • body butter
  • body oil

Tallow, or rendered beef or mutton fat, is an ingredient people have used in skin care for centuries. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, tallow has properties that may help reduce the symptoms of dry, itchy, and inflamed skin in people with eczema.

One of the reasons why tallow may help with eczema is because it contains fatty acids, an essential component of the skin’s barrier.

In a 2020 research review, experts explored the effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids for preventing and treating inflammatory skin conditions. According to the research, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids ― which beef tallow contains ― may help improve dermatitis symptoms.

As an ingredient with emollient properties, tallow can also help lock moisture into the skin, which may reduce dryness and improve hydration.

One small 2022 study examined the effectiveness of different emollient creams on skin barrier health in adults living with atopic dermatitis. Results showed that emollients containing glycerol, one of the fatty components in tallow, significantly improved skin moisture in study participants.

That said, even though research suggests that some components in tallow may be beneficial for eczema, there’s no research exploring the use of tallow specifically for treating eczema symptoms in humans.

Emollients are among the most effective treatment options for atopic dermatitis and other eczema conditions. Not only can they improve skin hydration, but they may reduce flare-up severity and frequency in these conditions.

However, some of the ingredients in emollient formulations, like urea and glycerin, may cause sensitivity and lead to side effects like:

  • sensations of burning or stinging
  • itchiness
  • dryness
  • irritation
  • skin discoloration

When using tallow products that contain these ingredients, some people may find them irritating to their skin. People who use homemade tallow may also expose themselves to other impurities within the tallow that can cause skin irritation.

Another disadvantage of using tallow as a skin care ingredient is that it’s extremely oily, which isn’t necessarily great for everyday use. Plus, in some cases, tallow can have an odor ― which can be off-putting to some people.

Check in with your doctor

Before using a tallow balm or any other skin care treatment, talk with your primary doctor or dermatologist. They can advise you on how well it may work for you and what side effects to look out for.

Also, test tallow products on your wrist or inner elbow before a more sensitive location like your face or neck.

Learn more about how to test new skin care products when you have eczema.

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Making a small batch of homemade cream or balm at home is relatively easy if you want to try natural remedies for your eczema.

Here are the two main ingredients you’ll need to have on hand for tallow butter balm:

  • Tallow: You can make your own tallow at home from suet, but it’s much easier to purchase a batch of high quality, grass-fed tallow from a butcher for the base of your balm.
  • Carrier oil: Carrier oils are essential to many skin care products, but choose an eczema-safe oil like sunflower seed oil or jojoba oil. There are usually no strict skin care product regulations, so choosing high quality food-grade oils is often a good choice.

Some people also use essential oils in their body butters and balms. But these oils can irritate the skin ― so some experts may not recommend them if you have eczema.

It can also be helpful to add an antioxidant like vitamin E. This can help keep oil-based products from going rancid. However, making any homemade product like this in small batches is also a good idea to ensure you can use it quickly, reducing the chance of bacterial growth.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup grass-fed beef tallow
  • 1/8 cup carrier oil of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin E (optional)
  • 2–3 drops essential oil (if desired)

Instructions

  1. Add your beef tallow to a small pot and melt into a liquid over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the carrier oil and stir after the tallow becomes a liquid consistency.
  3. Optional: Once slightly cooled, add the mixture to a mixing bowl and whip until it becomes fluffy, like whipped butter.
  4. Add the mixture to a glass jar and allow it to set in the fridge until it hardens.
  5. Store the mixture at room temperature and use it after bathing, showering, or when your skin gets wet. Having an applicator (like a small spoon or spatula) may be helpful to keep water out of the balm ― this can help avoid bacterial growth.

Research on the use of tallow for eczema is extremely limited, with virtually no studies exploring this treatment option’s effectiveness. However, several studies on emollients and other ingredients in tallow show that these ingredients may help manage eczema symptoms in some people.

If you want to try new treatment approaches for your eczema, contact your doctor or dermatologist to discuss your options. Together, you can find the right approach to help you manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of flare-ups.