Beef Tallow Skin Care Is Blowing Up on TikTok — but Is It Safe?

If you're on SkinTok, you may have seen a few beauty influencers raving about the benefits of using beef tallow on the skin. If you haven't, and you're not even quite sure what beef tallow is, let us assure you, you aren't alone. However, the trend has been blowing up on social media over the last few months and it's certainly piqued our interest. Is this just another TikTok claim that we should ignore or are there actual benefits to using beef tallow on your skin?

Do a little Googling and you'll find a handful of different companies selling skin-care products made with beef tallow — everything from 100 percent grass-fed beef tallow skin cream to tallow eye cream. But just because it's worked for a few people on the internet doesn't mean it will work for your skin — or that it's even safe.

To answer all of our burning questions about the trend, we tapped an expert. Ahead, they break down what beef tallow is, whether or not it's safe for use on the skin, and what the potential risks of using it are.

What Is Beef Tallow?

Let's get the biggest question out of the way: what exactly is beef tallow? "Beef tallow is rendered fat from cattle," Peter Lee, MD, at Wave Plastic Surgery, tells POPSUGAR. "It's beef fat that has had all the non-fatty components and all of the moisture removed."

Beef tallow is most commonly used to make candles and soap, but users on social media have recently claimed that applying it to the skin can provide dermatologic benefits, like improving acne, soothing rashes, treating eczema, and reducing wrinkles. Sounds like a miracle product, right? Unfortunately, Dr. Lee says it isn't all it's cracked up to be. "To date, there are no accepted clinical studies that confirm the efficacy of application of beef tallow to human skin in achieving any of these benefits," he says.

Is Beef Tallow Safe For Skin?

While beef tallow does technically have moisturizing properties and it also contains antioxidants, there are some downsides. The biggest one? "Beef tallow is not approved for topical application on the skin by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)," Dr. Lee says. This likely means that whatever products you're purchasing are homemade, and the regulations surrounding them are nonexistent.

Although it's ultra-moisturizing due to its emollient consistency, if you have sensitive skin, the thickness of beef tallow could cause acne and breakouts when applied directly to the skin. And that's not all — there are more serious health risks to consider. "There is a theoretical possibility that people who do so may put themselves at risk for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as mad cow disease), although we are not aware of any patients who have suffered this complication at this time."

OK, so, maybe skip the beef tallow for now. If your goal is to reduce wrinkles, Dr. Lee suggests embarking on a regimen using retinol under the supervision of a physician. Tretinoin is one of our favorite prescription-only retin-A products, but you can also find a variety of great products formulated with the antiaging hero ingredient in the aisles of your local drugstore.

"If patients suffer from dry skin and wish to improve their skin's appearance and texture, I recommend using a pharmaceutical-grade moisturizer," Dr. Lee says. You can also add a hyaluronic acid serum into your routine or try a skin-care technique specifically meant to moisturize, like skin slugging. Just please put down the beef tallow.