DIY Beef Tallow Moisturizer

April  4, 2017
2 Ratings
Photo by Emily Farris
  • Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Author Notes

This beef tallow moisturizer is great for really dry skin. And if you have sensitivities to any of the ingredients, just leave them out, or try swapping something like avocado oil for the coconut oil. The essential oils are purely optional, and while some people don’t do well with topical lavender, I use it because I know it doesn’t irritate my skin—and it smells nice, too!

I store this in 7-ounce Weck tulip jars (this recipe will fill two), and though I should probably seal them, once I’ve “opened” a jar, I don’t. It feels so luxurious every time I lift the little glass lid off the top and dip into my rich moisturizer. Small mason jars or reused face creams pots also work, and those orange plastic pill bottles are great for keeping a little in your purse or for traveling.

A little goes a long way, and you’ll want to warm it in your hands a before applying it to your face (or wherever else you choose to put it). —Emily Farris

What You'll Need
  • 7 ounces (1/2 jar) pure beef tallow
  • 1.5 ounces raw, unrefined cocoa butter
  • 1 ounce virgin, unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/2 ounce vitamin E oil (I use 32,000 IU)
  • 10 drops cedarwood essential oil (optional)
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
  • 5 drops frankincense essential oil (optional)
  • 5 drops helichrysum essential oil (optional)
  1. Melt the beef tallow, cocoa butter, and coconut oil in a small pan over very low heat.
  2. When the first three ingredients are liquified, turn off the heat and stir in the vitamin E oil. Transfer the contents to a large measuring cup, preferably with a spout, to cool.
  3. Let the mixture cool for at least 15 minutes, the stir in the essential oils, if using.
  4. Pour the moisturizer into sterilized containers and put them in the freezer for five minutes to solidify.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Laura415
  • Betty Magraw Martinez
    Betty Magraw Martinez
  • Emily Farris
    Emily Farris
  • J. Dewey
    J. Dewey
Emily is a writer, recipe developer, prop stylist, social media manager, potty mouth, and blogger. She lives in Kansas City, MO, with her husband, toddler son, and two rowdy dogs.

23 Reviews

J. D. July 21, 2023
This may be a dumb question but are measurements a liquid measurement (fl. oz) or weight measurement (oz.)?
Olivia April 26, 2023
Hi Emily, I saw this recipe and have made sample sizes to add to my Mother’s Day packs of soap I’m selling. I’m in love with it, although I did refrigerate to speed the process up, but when they came to room temp there was oil on top, so I remelted it all and let it set at room temp, which was way better. I do like the idea someone said about whipping it tho! I’d like to try that. I was given the oils by a friend for this recipe, but am going to need to buy my own, so in love with it! Thank you!
Rachel July 21, 2018
Do you happen to know the shelf life of this product and if it's better to refrigerate or leave at room temperature?
Emily F. July 21, 2018
I'm still working on the batch I made for this article (15 months ago) and I don't refrigerate it. I hope that helps!
Rachel July 21, 2018
That does! Thank you very much!
Laura415 July 8, 2018
I made this and love it. I saw multiple recipes and chose to make a 50/50 mix of avocado oil and tallow. To this I added 1.5 oz of shea butter instead of cocoa butter. I changed the recipe to reflect the ingredients I had instead of buying similar things I didn't have. Vitamin E is a great way to preserve the moisturizer, however, I also added a few drops of rosemary oil (also a preservative) After I melted it all together I added a couple tablespoons of grated beeswax as an emulsifier. After cooling the moisturizer until looked opaque but not hard. I used my hand blender to whip and emulsify the moisturizer. It came out soft but firm enough not to separate. I used a lot of rose absolute and rose geranium essential oil to cover the slight beefy smell. It looks greasy going on but mine soaks in within 30 minutes. I fill a regular moisturizer container for daily use and keep the rest in the refrigerator. Thanks for posting this.
Lucia June 28, 2017
Hi Emily, I recently made this and love it. Thank you! I've shared samples and most everyone agrees its fantastic. I did have one person ask if there is a way to make it a little less greasy? What are your thoughts? I was thinking of lowering the amount of coconut oil but wasn't sure if I was going to be messing with the texture of stability of the product. Thanks again.
Emily F. July 10, 2017
Apologies for the late reply, Lucia! I don't think it will mess with the product at all to cut back on the coconut oil (I mostly added it for the good things in it, I don't find it to be very moisturizing on its own). The beef fat is pretty much just grease so I don't know if there's a way to fix it. And perhaps the person who wants it to be less so maybe doesn't need it as much as those of us with extra dry skin? Just a thought! Thanks so much for trying it and I'm glad you love it.
Jo A. April 25, 2017
Hi Emily, I made this and I love it. The Epic brand tallow I bought has a tiny hint of beef smell in the jar, but I don't detect it on the skin. I gave one of the jars I made to my brother who has serious psoriasis. Unfortunately, it gave a burning sensation on the parts of his skin that are thin. I was wondering if you think it might be the Eucalyptus oil? Or maybe the vitamin E? My brother is disenchanted and won't try it again, but I was wondering what might make it burn. I use it all over and love it.
Emily F. April 25, 2017
Hm. It very well could have been the eucalyptus, though I can't say for sure. You never know what will irritate some people. That, said eucalyptus is a pretty hot oil, I don't know if I would have put it in (though I do love the smell, I usually just diffuse it). Maybe try another batch sans eucalyptus? Maybe even leave out the essential oils completely for him since he may have more sensitivities than us?
Jo A. April 25, 2017
Yikes, I meant I used cedar wood, not eucalyptus. Also, the helichrysum was a blend, I could not afford the pure one. I may leave all the oils out next time. You don't think it could have been the vitamin e, right?
And thank you for anwering!!
Emily F. April 25, 2017
Ah. Cedarwood is actually supposed to be very good for skin, but everyone has different sensitivities. I doubt it was the vitamin E, but I'm not a dermatologist (or any kind of medical professional!) so I really don't know. Has he had any issues with vitamin E before? It's in lots of skincare products. It could have been the blend? Sometimes blends include synthetic ingredients, depending on the brand. Sorry he had trouble, though. And I'm glad you're enjoying it! (And yes, I recommend making him one without the essential oils. If it still bothers him, it will be much easier to narrow down his sensitivity. I'm all about elimination. It's how I figured out I'm allergic to synthetic sunscreens and now can only use zinc or titanium dioxide-based products.)
Betty M. April 22, 2017
Again, have made the moisturizer and like it. there any oils I can
add to make it more spreadable..
Emily F. April 23, 2017
Hi, Betty. I've always made it this way and just warm it in my hands to soften it. But I bet if you put an ounce or two of a liquid oil in there (jojoba, olive, fractionated coconut, avocado, etc. — something you know won't irritate your skin) it would probably make it more spreadable? I hope!
Rose M. April 9, 2017
Sorry, I looked at the picture of the ingredients and saw the 32,000 IU bottle of Vitamin E oil. Did you buy it at Whole Foods as well? What is the brand name?
Emily F. April 9, 2017
Hm. I think I got it online. Maybe you could get it at Whole Foods, though? I use the Jason brand.
Rose M. April 9, 2017
Roe Thank you for this recipe; I definitely want to try it. How do you purchase your vitamin E oil? Do you buy the small capsules and squeeze the oil out?
Emily F. April 9, 2017
I buy it by the bottle online. You can search "32,000 IU Vitamin E" on Amazon and the one I use is the first result.
gabry April 9, 2017
Is there any substitute for Coconut oil?, I'm allergic to coconut.
Emily F. April 9, 2017
You could just cut it completely, or substitute more cocoa butter, or try avocado, jojoba or rosehip oil. The liquid oils might even make the moisturizer a little softer. (I've used rosehip in homemade face serums, and it's great for skin, too!).
mela April 10, 2017
I have been using straight EV olive oil on very itchy dry skin. I tried coconut oil but olive oil works better for me at least. I plan to try it with this recipe.
Autumn L. April 4, 2017
I'm intrigued! Do you keep the moisturizer in the fridge?
Emily F. April 4, 2017
I don't! I keep it in the medicine cabinet. I think the tallow works like a confit! I guess?