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Is Beef Tallow Really an Effective Treatment for Acne?

April 24, 2023 by Adam.lueken

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TikTok has become synonymous with creating viral trends, whether the latest dance craze or health and beauty hacks. Recently, TikTok beauty influencers have been ditching their skincare products for beef tallow, smearing it on their faces to clear up acne and rejuvenate their skin.

Tallow, otherwise known as beef fat, is typically used for making soap and candles. It’s also a common cooking ingredient. At room temperature, it’s solid, although when it’s carefully purified and when it has undergone the cosmetic manufacturing processes it gets more of an oily consistency. To have the benefits its praised for, tallow must come from grazing animals like cows, bison or sheep. Various online skincare vendors also feature tallow products and claim that they can treat a variety of skin issues.

This TikTok trend has become very popular, with the #beeftallowskincare tag receiving over 11 million views and the general “tallow skincare” search seeing over 180 billion views. However, dermatologists and experts are not sold on this miracle treatment.

In an article by the NY Post, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Muneeb Shah stated, “There are so many great skincare products out there now that are affordable and widely available that it just wouldn’t make sense to me to take a chance on an ingredient that we don’t know works or not. Tallow, because it’s high in oleic acid just like olive oil is, it’s been shown to disrupt the skin barrier and actually cause more irritation versus plant oils that are high in linoleic acid. Dermatologists typically look for products that are high in linoleic acid and low in oleic acid, and the reverse can irritate the skin.” Dr. Shah also said that he wouldn’t recommend it at all.

Known as the “Derm Doctor” on TikTok, Dr. Shah has nearly 18 million followers on the platform. He also mentioned that beef tallow use for skin care directly opposes the idea of using clean and cruelty-free products, which the skin care industry aims to follow.

In addition, tallow use is not FDA-approved for skin care due to the possibility of contracting bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. Beef tallow is largely unregulated and you could end up with some pretty nasty added preservatives as well as questions about how the beef tallow was sourced and whether or not it’s very good quality.

While possessing some of the qualities of effective skin care products, there are also many red flags to using tallow for skin care. So if you are looking for the right skin care product, we recommend skipping the beef.

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