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Tallow Balm Products - Frequently Asked Questions

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Vintage Tradition Tallow Balm. Photo courtesy of Mommypotamus (

What is tallow?

Tallow is gently rendered animal oil, usually from cows or sheep. Our ancestors overwhelmingly used tallow to care for their skin until animal products fell out of fashion and were replaced with chemicals, petroleum products, rancid vegetable oils, chemically fractionated plant products, and synthetic vitamins.

Why do you use tallow?

We use tallow because it is nature's original skin care product and works better than the man-made products that began to replace it in the 20th century. Modern-day research has confirmed the traditional wisdom of our ancestors. Tallow contains abundant natural fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and fat-soluble activators, which are found only in animal fats and which all promote skin health. Tallow also contains fats like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, and palmitoleic acid, which has natural antimicrobial properties. No plant-based skincare ingredient or product can remotely compare to tallow in its power to nourish and heal the skin. This fact is not surprising since we are animals and not plants.

Princess Beef Ranch, Colorado

Where do you obtain your tallow?

We render all of the tallow ourselves from beef suet (interior fat), and not scrap fat, using our own special process, with the lowest heat possible and no water (i.e., not the "wet" method), ensuring that the tallow will not undergo oxidation or rancidity. Furthermore, we are very selective about what material from the suet actually goes into the rendering. We don't obtain tallow rendered by others because we want it done our own special way as described for the sake of quality, stability, and maximum therapeutic benefit to the skin. We cannot know or rely on how others might produce their tallow, and we want full control over the process and the quality.

We obtain the suet from James Ranch in Colorado and other ranches where the cows are 100% grass-fed, which is important for the superior therapeutic value of our Tallow Balm. Tallow from cows that are only fed grass has a better mineral and micronutrient profile, including higher levels of vitamins. For example, one study found that grass-fed cows have four times the vitamin E of grain-fed cows. Also important to the nutritional value of the tallow, as well as important to us personally, is that "our" cows are happy and healthy, humanely raised without cruel feed lots or cruel slaughterhouses and without pesticides, drugs, hormones, or chemicals of any kind.

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Why do you include olive oil?

We add a little olive oil to the tallow because of its therapeutic qualities. Since ancient times, olive oil has been considered a healing salve for the skin due to its soothing, cleansing, moisturizing, and anti-cancer properties. We now know that these properties are, in part, a result of olive oil's high levels of antioxidants, like vitamin E, carotenoids, and oleuropein.

Olea Estates Olive Oil

Where do you obtain your olive oil?

We obtain it from Olea Estates, whose certified organic olives and certified organic olive oil have been produced by the Chronis family since 1856 in their own orchards in the valley of Sparta, Greece from a single variety of olive. The olive oil is extra virgin from a first cold press exclusively from one harvest without blending. Olea Estates does the pressing themselves and ships it directly to their relatives in the USA who market it. Olea Estates says, "We cultivate. We harvest. We press. We import. Nobody else interferes. You enjoy."

Why do you include fermented cod liver oil, fermented skate liver oil, and concentrated butter oil in Epic Glow and Oh Aches! (instead of olive oil)?

Since ancient times, these animal oils have been considered healing salves for the skin and also for muscles and joints due to their soothing, cleansing, moisturizing, and deep-penetrating properties. We now know that these properties are, in part, a result of their high levels of antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin E, squalene, and their other fat-soluble nutrients.

Green Pasture® Products

Where do you obtain your cod liver oil, skate liver oil, and butter oil?

We obtain them from Green Pasture® because theirs are the purest, highest quality available. Their Fermented Cod and Skate Liver Oils are produced from fish that are wild-caught in the Bering Sea, and made in small batches with traditional methods and extraordinary care. Their Concentrated Butter Oil is from cows grazing on 100% rapidly growing green grass. The speed of grass growth, the timing of the grazing, the species of grass, the climate, and the extraction method are all important factors that make it the best available.

Why do you include essential oils?

The essential oils used in our products are specifically selected because of their long-standing tradition of promoting optimal skin health, and they are expertly blended to give our Tallow Balms a fresh, pleasant scent. We only use the most pure essential oils available, therapeutic-grade and produced to the highest standards in the industry, steam-distilled from plants grown at the highest standards and not adulterated, extended, synthesized, or distilled using chemicals or high temperatures and pressure, with no middlemen, eliminating the possibility of adulteration. People who have had problems with other essential oils have found that they don't have problems with the ones that we use.

Does lavender essential oil, which is found in some of your products, cause hormonal issues?

Certain sources claim that lavender essential oil affects hormones or is hormone-disrupting. However, there are no studies showing that unadulterated lavender essential oil has these effects. We have read the studies that are cited when that claim is made. Chemically synthesized fragrances are hormone disruptors, and lavender is the essential oil most often adulterated with chemical fragrances, which is proven by the fact that there is more lavender essential oil sold in the world than is possible given the number of lavender plants grown in the world. In ALL of the studies on the hormonal effects of lavender, the scientists NEVER tested the products to determine if they were pure or if they contained chemically synthesized fragrances (known hormone-disruptors). Moreover, the commercial personal care products that they tested almost certainly contained hormone-disrupting chemical fragrances even besides adulterated or fake lavender oil. At Vintage Tradition, we use only therapeutic-grade, pure, unadulterated, better-than-organic lavender essential oil in our products. We know the farm where the lavender is grown, and it is distilled right at the farm with no opportunity for adulteration with chemical fragrances. Finally, lavender essential oil has been used for centuries with no noted side effects.

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Where can I apply Tallow Balm?

Tallow Balm can be applied anywhere on the body, including feet, hands, and face, even eyelids and lips, so there is no need for multiple skin care products, not even a separate lip balm, since Tallow Balm is perfect for every skin care need. It can also be applied sparingly to the hair with great results. It is interesting that, with modern skin care, a separate product is marketed for the face, presumably because it is gentler, making one wonder if this is an admission to the harshness of the not-so-natural ingredients in the body lotions. A separate product is not necessary when it is truly from nature as Tallow Balm is.

What is the consistency of your Tallow Balm?

Our Tallow Balm is thick and stiff because it's a balm and not a lotion or cream, but it's also spreadable and easy to use. It contains no water, and a little goes a very long way! We have a secret method for making our Tallow Balm spreadable, achieving the best possible consistency without whipping air into it or using any chemicals. It is good that Tallow Balm is thick, indicating that the fat we use is highly saturated and therefore of maximum nutritional and therapeutic value to your skin. Air whipped into the product would promote rancidity and would merely make it a little easier to remove from the jar, which is why we don't do that and charge you for air!

Is your Tallow Balm greasy?

Our Tallow Balm is readily absorbed by the skin. Therefore, applying the Tallow Balm does not result in a greasy look or feel. It is taken up by the skin as nourishment and softens the skin quickly. If your skin doesn't absorb what you apply, then you are applying too much. Remember that a little goes a long way.

Tallow Balm, Windswept, by Vintage Tradition

Is your Tallow Balm organic?

Our Tallow Balm is not certified organic. Organic standards aren't good enough for us or for you. For example, did you know that organically raised cows can still spend months in crowded, unsanitary feed lots eating grain and soy? Instead, all of our suppliers use the best methods in production, which include a 100% grass-fed and pasture-raised, non-toxic, chemical-free approach to farming with healthy soil and an overall healthy ecosystem without pesticides, pharmaceuticals, or any other chemicals. It is costly and time-consuming for a farm to be certified organic, so many excellent producers choose not to be, especially since the large ongoing expense of certification has to be passed on to the consumer. Many consumers choose to "certify" the products they purchase by buying directly from suppliers that they trust, and we do that in your place when obtaining the ingredients for our Tallow Balm.

What is the shelf life of your Tallow Balm?

Our Tallow Balm is most fresh when used before the "best by" date found on the bottom of the product. All of the ingredients of our Tallow Balm are very shelf-stable. The essential oils in many of our varieties tend to keep the balm fresh much longer than the "best by" date. Of course, we do not use toxic preservatives or any other chemicals. Simply keep the jar tightly capped and away from heat. For long-term storage, keep any jars you aren't currently using in the refrigerator, in which case you can expect them to stay fresh for years.

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Why does your Tallow Balm vary in color, consistency, and scent?

Our Tallow Balm is not chemically engineered to be always the same, which is a good thing and part of the reason it works so well! The ingredients come directly from nature and not from a laboratory. Therefore, our Tallow Balm can vary from batch to batch in color, consistency, and scent, which doesn't alter its effectiveness. It is a characteristic of a truly natural product to vary because of many different factors. The principal ingredient of our Tallow Balm is tallow, which varies according to the season, the animal, and other conditions, as do the fermented cod liver oil, the fermented skate liver oil, and the concentrated butter oil in our Green Pasture® products. In addition, the Tallow Balm is hand-made, not machine-made. Finally, tallow is more solid at lower temperatures and softer at higher temperatures. If you let your Tallow Balm get so hot that it melts, it may be more firm when it re-solidifies, but it will still be perfectly usable and won't lose any of its effectiveness. Please note that the Totally Unscented variety tends to be a little less soft since it contains no essential oils.

My Tallow Balm is not as smooth as I expected. Why?

We're sorry your Tallow Balm is not perfectly smooth. As explained above, since it's a completely natural product, it varies from batch to batch. When we make the Tallow Balm, it is always smooth, but the consistency can sometimes change even after it leaves us, particularly if it gets very hot or cold. Please try rubbing the Tallow Balm vigorously between your palms to warm it up and smooth it out before applying it. If this is not a satisfactory solution for the particular jar you have, please contact us. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Why does my Tallow Balm have the scent of something other than essential oils?

We don't use synthetic, petrochemical-based fragrances to cover up the scent of the underlying ingredients like most skin care companies do. (Those chemical fragrances can be estrogenic and have many other toxic effects.) Naturally, in our Totally Unscented products that have no essential oils, you will detect the scent of tallow. If you have an acute sense of smell or are accustomed to chemical fragrances that are in almost everything, you may be able to detect the natural scent of the product's ingredients, like tallow or fish oils, even in the products that have essential oils. This is normal and should reassure you that this is a completely natural, chemical-free product. After just a little time, most of these customers become accustomed to the scent or consider it a small trade-off for the wonderful therapeutic effects of the product. You may prefer to use your Tallow Balm at night so that the scent disappears by morning.

How can I make my own custom scent?

To make your own custom scent, you can try stirring the essential oil(s) of your choice into our Totally Unscented Tallow Balm. You can also try adding extra essential oil to one of the scented varieties. Adding oil could be difficult since the Tallow Balm is solid although soft. Therefore, you could melt it down at around 150°F (65°C), stir in oil, and let it re-solidify in the refrigerator (for smoothness), and then let it warm up to room temperature. However, the Tallow Balm may be more firm than before melting it. Another alternative is to rub some Tallow Balm between your palms and then add a drop of an essential oil, which will also make the Tallow Balm even smoother to apply.

Vintage Tradition Tallow Balm. Photo courtesy of Sandrine Hahn Perez (

Which variety of Tallow Balm should I use for...?

Since the principal therapeutic ingredient of our Tallow Balm is the tallow, any variety will be great for your purpose. It is possible that the Tallow Balms with Green Pasture® oils will provide even better results because of the added therapeutic value of the fish and butter oils. All of the essential oils that we use in our balms are therapeutic to the skin as well, and we use only the very best (see above), so you can't go wrong in your choice. (See the following questions regarding children and pregnant women.) You may like to research which essential oils are best for you in order to choose among our varieties, and you can also apply additional essential oils along with the Tallow Balm. The balm also serves as an excellent carrier oil for applying essential oil. Simply apply essential oil immediately after applying balm.

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Which variety of Tallow Balm is best for babies or small children?

Except for the Citrus Shine variety and our Face Serums, the concentration of essential oils in all of our products meets the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy safety guidelines for infants, toddlers, and young children. Nevertheless, you may wish to use Totally Unscented, Almost Unscented, Lavender Fields, or Vanilla Bean. The essential oils in Almost Unscented (lavender and cedarwood) and Lavender Fields (lavender) are among those generally regarded as being more than gentle enough for use with babies and small children, and the Vanilla Bean only contains organic vanilla extract.

Which variety of Tallow Balm is best for pregnant and breastfeeding women?

You may wish to use Totally Unscented, Almost Unscented, or Lavender Fields. The essential oils in Almost Unscented (lavender and cedarwood) and Lavender Fields (lavender) are among those generally regarded as being fine to use in pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

What is the difference between your Gel Serums and the Tallow Balms with Green Pasture® Oils (that is, Epic Glow and Oh Aches!) since the ingredients are so similar?

The Gel Serums have a much higher concentration of the Green Pasture® oils and the therapeutic essential oils. Therefore, in comparison with the Tallow Balms, only a tiny amount of Gel Serum is used for each application.

Are your Tallow Balms gluten-free / wheat-free / soy-free / nut-free / peanut-free / egg-free / shellfish-free?

Yes, our Tallow Balms are free of all of these substances, containing only tallow, olive oil, and essential oils. (The Green Pasture® products contain butter oil, cod liver oil, and skate liver oil instead of olive oil.) Our production area and equipment are dedicated exclusively to making our Tallow Balm, so there is no chance of other substances being introduced into our products.

What if I get a reaction to the Tallow Balm?

Reactions to our Tallow Balm are rare, but if you get one, first be aware that our products are whole-food products with no chemicals whatsoever. Even the essential oils are completely pure, the best available, free from any foreign substances or adulterants. (See above.) If you have a serious reaction, discontinue use and contact us. If you think you may be sensitive to one of the essential oils in the product, you may like to try Totally Unscented instead. Whether your skin is reacting to the tallow or any of the other oils in the product, you may be experiencing a detoxification of the skin, which is a release of toxins that have become embedded in the skin from the environment or from other products. Some customers have reported temporary breakouts, dryness, and other reactions when first starting using our product. Many of our customers have found that their skin is better than ever once they work through the detoxification process.

One customer said, "If I put it on my face more than once every few days, my skin breaks out.... [One week later...] It's now been exactly a week since I started using the balm on my face every day.... The breakouts started by the second day, as was usual. This time I stuck it out. My face started clearing up around the end of the weekend, and today my skin is fantastic. It's smooth, soft, and almost glowing! I'm so glad I stuck it out. My skin was definitely detoxing!" Another customer seconded that, saying, "It happened to me too! But now I'm glowing!"

Yet another customer said, "Oh, my goodness, my skin is like brand new! I decided to ride out the detox process and just trusted that it would pass. I'm on week 5 of a full skin-cell turnover. So many scars are gone, and there is probably just a week or two more to go. I cannot believe the difference! I'm absolutely shocked! All the blackheads on my cheeks and nose and forehead have almost all come out, and only the really deep ones are still making their way out. All the dry patches are gone. My skin is more even. I cannot thank you enough. I almost threw in the towel until you sent me the information on the detox. Since I had tried so many others things and since I was already in deep, I decided to stick it out. I'm so thankful!"

What if the Tallow Balm doesn't seem to be working?

If a condition for which you are using the Tallow Balm isn't getting better or is even worsening, please consider whether it could be a detoxification as described in the previous FAQ. For example, we've had some customers report that when using our products for the first time, their skin actually seemed drier at first and then became soft and wonderfully moisturized.


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How is your Tallow Balm packaged?

Our Tallow Balm is packaged in glass jars and paperboard tubes.

The recyclable glass jars have a recyclable BPA-free plastic lid which doesn't come in contact with the Tallow Balm.

The paperboard tubes are sturdy and environmentally friendly and are made from recycled paper, except for the inner paper lining, which is virgin paper (so the Tallow Balm does not come into contact with recycled paper).

How do your paperboard tubes work?

To open the tube, twist the cap at the dotted line to break the seal in order to remove the cap. The balm is already pushed up a little for your convenience and is ready to use. To continue dispensing, push up slowly and carefully with your finger or an object such as a pen. If you have difficulty pushing it up, you can warm it up a little, such as in a pocket. If you push the Tallow Balm up too far, retract it by tapping the bottom of the tube firmly on a hard surface. If the cap of your tube becomes loose, press your fingernail or a similar object into the bottom edge of the cap in two or more places, and that will tighten up the fit of the cap. Your balm will melt if it gets hot, so do not leave it in a hot place such as in your car.

Why don't you make a tallow balm sunscreen?

There are many reasons which you can read about in our newsletter, Why You Shouldn't Use Any Sunscreens (which also describes what you can do instead). Chemical sunscreens are highly toxic, and even "non-nano" zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are extremely damaging to health. Furthermore, selective blocking of particular wavelengths of excessive sunlight to avoid the redness and pain does not prevent skin damage. Research and statistics indicate that sunscreen use actually promotes skin cancer.

Why don't you make a tallow balm with magnesium?

Upon research, we discovered that it's impossible to get much magnesium into our Tallow Balm. Magnesium does not dissolve in oil but only in water, and our Tallow Balm has no water in it. Therefore, calling an oil-based balm a magnesium balm is just a gimmick. A water-based lotion could contain some magnesium, but then it would also contain problematic ingredients. We would recommend simply using a magnesium oil spray to provide a meaningful amount of magnesium to the body. It's called "oil" because it feels slick, but there is no oil in it. It is simply magnesium chloride and water, and it should contain no other ingredients.

I have read that tallow balm is not approved by the FDA and that it even carries risks, including that of mad cow disease. Is this true?

These statements are misinformation! On the FDA's website under Prohibited Cattle Materials, it says that tallow is specifically approved for use in cosmetics (which is what they call all skin preparations). Even if tallow could be tainted with mad cow disease, every authority agrees that the disease cannot be contracted topically.

Beside all that, we are very stringent about the quality of the ingredients in our products. We only obtain beef suet from USDA-inspected meat processors, and the USDA inspectors conduct surveillance for mad cow disease. In other words, our tallow comes only from animals that have been certified to be safe for human consumption and free of BSE (mad cow disease). We only accept suet that has this USDA inspection certification, which information we retain as part of our strict product documentation for each batch that we make. Furthermore, cows contract mad cow disease by eating feed contaminated with parts that came from another cow that had mad cow disease. Unlike most cows in this country, all of the cows that we get our suet from never eat feed. They only eat grass their whole lives. Therefore, there is no possibility for them to contract mad cow disease. We only obtain the suet used to make our tallow from ranches that we have personal relationships with and whose practices are the best of the best and much better than organic standards. In other words, the tallow in our balm comes from the healthiest cows anywhere!

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