Many of us are now turning to ‘paleo’ and ‘caveman’ style diets in a bid to get back in touch with our healthier, more natural selves – so it’s unsurprising that all-natural, ancestrally-influenced beauty products are also seeing a rise in popularity.
Our ancestors certainly knew a thing or two about staying well inside and out – but now modern science proves that many of their theories, medicines and treatments are highly effective – in some cases even more so than modern alternatives. In addition, it goes further to explain how they work.
Although when we opt for ‘natural’ products they tend to be plant-based, evidence has shown that, in actual fact, animal products are better for moisturising and toning the skin.
It’s because by-products from the meat industry, especially tallow (rendered fat - the rendering process simultaneously dries the material and separates the fat from the bone and protein), are biologically compatible with our skin - meaning that they work in perfect harmony with skin cells to keep them healthy, supple and strong.
To understand exactly how tallow works to promote healthier skin, it’s necessary to take a closer look at the skin itself, and the cells contained within it.
What is skin?
Your skin is a very important, but often overlooked, part of the body.
It protects your muscles, bones and organs, as well as helping regulate temperature and allowing us to feel and touch the environment around us. It’s our largest organ - absorbing and keeping harmful substances at bay in perfect balance.
The skin is made up of layers – the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis.
The epidermis is your skin’s external ‘top’ layer – the layer which first comes into contact with any topical hydration.
The dermis and the hypodermis sit beneath.
These layers all contain cells.
Cell membranes are mainly comprised of fatty acids.
Two layers of these are present and 50% of the cell membrane is made from saturated fats.
You may only have heard of these fats in relation to the food we eat – but in actual fact they are an essential component of skin cell membranes performing a crucial role in the health and beauty of our skin.
These give the cell membrane its strong infrastructure and integrity – like the ‘scaffolding’ supporting the architecture of your skin - it’s crucial that it is firm, but it also needs to be flexible enough to let nutrients in and toxins out, and without enough of the right fats the cells will harden and malfunction.
People are just beginning to realise that they can actually be beneficial when applied topically, too.
How (and why) does beef tallow work so harmoniously with our skin?
Beef tallow contains essential components which are identical to those found in our own healthy skin, which means that it moisturises skin more effectively than plant-based or synthetic ingredients.
The concentration of saturated fats in tallow (around 50-55%) mirrors the concentration in our skin making it a biologically compatible ingredient – so it’s no surprise that lotions and creams developed with beef tallow as a main component offer incredible results when it comes to skin vitality.
Tallow is also incredibly similar to sebum – the oily substance which effectively ‘waterproofs’ our skin.
You’ll probably already be familiar with sebum as the culprit for spots and greasy hair when the skin over-produces it - but its function is incredibly important as when maintained at the right levels it keeps skin soft, moisturised and glowing.
Sebum is made up of lipids – a scientific term for fats.
Just under half of these lipids are in the form of triglycerides.
Astonishingly, the lipids found in tallow are mostly in the form of triglycerides – meaning that the application of tallow can replenish any fats your skin is lacking, to rejuvenate, tone and lead to improved elasticity and overall appearance.
Although throughout history we have used animal products and consumed animals for food, the use of animal-derived ingredients on our skin and hair for beautifying purposes is a practice which has been mostly left in ancient times.
Increasingly we are turning away from products containing petrochemicals, but we’re still a little shy when it comes to using animal products on our skin.
However the compatibility between animal substances and our own skin function simply can’t be emulated by plant-based or synthetic materials, as we are animals, not plants.
Overall, products which incorporate tallow have the ‘edge’ over their botanical counterparts.
In addition to containing very little saturated fat, plant products do not have the same levels of other nutrients needed for healthy skin.
Tallow also contains essential vitamins A, D, and K, as well as vitamin E, which are found predominantly in animal fats and which are all necessary for general health as well as skin health.
The tallow used in Absolutely Pure Skin Food is ethically produced and comes from grass-fed cows.
This is extremely important, as it results in a superior quality product which simply wouldn’t perform in the same way if it were to come from a mass-produced, non-organic source.
Responsible farming is very important and as the tallow is a by-product it also means that the whole animal is being used, reducing waste and resulting in a better outcome overall for the environment – and for your skin.