Category Archives: DIY Beauty Recipes

Adventures in Making Tallow Moisturizer

This is a blog about my adventure making tallow moisturizer (the best moisturizer I’ve ever used). Tallow is rendered beef fat, which is a little scary, so it took something serious for me to even try it. You can buy similar moisturizer already done for you for ~$30, or you can make your own. Feeling frugal and looking at it as a potential learning opportunity, I went for the diy option. Oh boy, it was an adventure…but an oh-so-worth-it one. Here’s what happened…

Why I ventured down the tallow road in the first place…

I hear your skin freaks out when you’re pregnant. For the most part, (and I’m totally bragging here) my skin was amazing. Better than it’s ever been….ever. No zits. I’m 32 and still get zits so this was a welcome 9-month reprieve. You’d brag too.

Then baby came out and the magic wore off. Pretty soon I developed dry patches on my cheeks. No big deal, I thought. I just have to change my moisturizer. So, I bought stuff with names called “deep repair” which had no effect. I even tried oil that comes from sharks. Knowing that our skin is a reflection of our internal health, I made sure I was hydrated and getting healthy oils….BUT NOTHING WAS WORKING!

In fact, the patches were getting worse and spreading and I was getting desperate. I was literally growing a force field on my face. I reached out to my smarter-than-me holistic FB friends and one gal recommended coconut oil (of which I’d heard a lot) and an alternative I’d never heard of, tallow.

Ok, duh. Why didn’t I think to turn to natural products instead of expensive BS deep repair creams? That’s what I’m all about after all. I’m blaming my baby brain. That night I started slathering coconut oil on my face because I honestly I had no idea what tallow even was.

Um, well my face didn’t like that too much. Not only did my force field get bigger but I developed a red bumpy rash all over my neck. Good lord, I was really good looking at that point. A quick google search confirmed that coconut oil can actually be drying on the face. Great. Not to diss coconut oil. My body loves it as a moisturizer. Not sure what happened there.

Ok, no more messing around, I decided…It was time to pull out the big guns. That night I started using the Oil Cleansing Method that we wrote about a few months ago. I really love it. Vanessa was so right about that … but even that wasn’t enough. It was time to try tallow. But now I’m a total OCM convert. Try it, you’ll love it.

How to Make Tallow Moisturizer…

Tallow, as I learned, is rendered cow fat so you can see why it took me a while to get to this point, right? I got a big chunk of cow fat from a farmer. It was good timing because the hubby and I were picking up our hog that same day so I just happened to ask if they had tallow and they did – I even got it for free.

This is how pretty it is…


I couldn’t believe I was going to put this on my face either. Another google search revealed how darn good it is for our skin. Basically, your skin recognizes it because it’s so close to our biology and absorbs it – plus it’s full of great vitamins that the skin loves. Google it, you’ll see.

Next step is to cut it into chunks and put it in your food processor like so…


When you’re done processing, it looks like this. I guess if you don’t have one, you can just chop small. It’s easier if it’s cold.


Then you put it in your crockpot on low and wait for it to melt.

Note: All of the articles on tallow making talk about being extra careful not to burn it so I was scared to mess it up. I didn’t do anything extra careful and mine didn’t burn. I stirred it some and worried about it. That should work for you too.


It melts pretty quick but I let it go a few hours. Next, I let the mixture cool down a little and strained it through cheesecloth into a bowl. Throw away the chunkies.


Then I added some dried herbs like lavender and calendula both of which have soothing properties for the skin and put it all in a big jar. I should have just started with the jar instead of messing with the bowl. Live and learn. The herbs are easily found at a natural herb store.



I thought I would have longer to let the herbs infuse but the fat solidified on me with the herbs still inside. I wanted them to diffuse longer so I heated it back up. This is where I hit a major bump in the road. I don’t recommend this approach.

I filled the crockpot with water. Placed my solid jar of fat inside, and set it to low. I checked on it a little while later and it was all melted…yay. BUT there was some oil floating in the water. Must have boiled over, I told myself.

Not so. I carefully removed the jar and to my great dismay only the top half of the broken jar came out. Oil in water mystery – solved. Darnit! I was left with a big crockpot full of water, oil, herbs, and broken glass. Now I’m thinking to myself that I’m a real genius and how much I freaking hate tallow.  What was I thinking trying to make moisturizer out of fat anyway???

I cooled off and decided that there had to be a way to finish this project after all the time I’d spent on it. Now my crockpot looked like this….a giant herby fat cookie floating in a bath. Image

I dislodged it. Poured out the water. Threw away the glass and remelted the herby fat cookie. I restrained the herbs out – let it cool a little and sighed with relief. By george, I think I’ve got it!

Next I grabbed an old empty moisturizer tub and filled it up 1/4 of the way with olive oil. This helps keep the consistency workable. Otherwise it would be too hard to use. I also added Citrus Bliss™ doTerra essential oil and OMG it is amazing stuff. For all that work, and learning the hard way, it was worth it. Look how pretty now…


Two days is all it took for the force field on my face to go away. And that was after weeks of trying other things. I swear my skin looks younger and I can hardly see my fine lines. I LOVE this stuff. I still have more fat sitting in the fridge and it’s going to make several more containers.

I might just start a tallow rendering business….ha ha, got ya.

In the end, I think it’s worth it to make your own but only if you learn from my mishaps. It’s better than spending $30 for someone else to do it, in my opinion. I’ll have enough to make moisturizer to last me a couple years now I bet. Think about how much that saves you in moisturizers that don’t really work. No brainer.

Try it out and enjoy your soft beautiful skin. Then let me know what you think.


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Filed under Clean Living Tips, DIY Beauty Recipes, Essential Oils

Adult Acne, Dry Skin…Have you Tried the Oil Cleansing Method?


By: Vanessa Richardson (guest post)

Does this sound familiar…

I was one of the lucky few in high school who had perfect skin.  I wish I’d known just how lucky I was.  Alas, my blessed skin only lasted until about 22 when I was hit with adult acne.  At 33 it has shown no signs of releasing me.  I’ve tried everything… the washes, meds from the dermatologist, creams, facials, fasts and cleanses, everything. Sometimes I would get zit free, dried out irritated skin, but how is a red flaky face an improvement over zits?

After years of trying everything, I gave up and decided to just concentrate on keeping my face clean and moisturized.  That helped the most.  However, the soap still dries, the moisturizers are full of who knows what, and I still have the same acne issues that I’ve had for 11 years now.  *sigh*

A woman on a mission…

I’m always on the lookout for ways to EASILY eliminate chemicals from my life.  A year ago I switched to baking soda instead of shampoo. Three weeks ago, I switched out my face wash for olive oil.  Yup, I started washing my face with OIL.  It’s called the Oil Cleaning Method (OCM) and is based on the basic idea in chemistry that “like dissolves like.”  Therefore a gentle, effective way to dissolve the dirty oil on my face is to use clean oil.  It’s been fantastic. My skin isn’t all dry and itchy, it’s a little less broken out, and I feel good about using something natural on my face.

How you can get in on it…

The most common instructions for OCM call for using various mixtures of oils such as castor, jojoba, grape seed, olive, and almond based on your skin type. You rub the oil in for 4-5 minutes, place a washcloth soaked with hot water on your face for another 2-3 minutes, and then gently scrub off until the oil is gone.   I’ll be honest, I’m lazy AND I’m cheap so as this wasn’t going to work for me.  7 to 10 minutes to get my face clean? Nope, this had to be modified to work for my lazy butt. Here’s what I do:

  • I pour a quarter size dollop of olive oil into my hand and rub it into my dry dirty skin for about one minute.
  • Next I put a clean washcloth, soaked in hot water, on my face for about 30 seconds.
  • I gently use the same hot washcloth to scrub the oil off my face using a circular motion until all the oil is gone. It takes about a minute.
  • Then I look at the previously clean washcloth with shock and a little disgust.  All the crap that was on my face is now a brown Rorschach splotch on the cloth.

For the first week I just used olive oil.  I always have olive oil on hand and I didn’t feel like going out and buying something else (cheap and lazy remember.)  Also, I guess castor oil is drying so you only use it 2x/week.  I can use olive oil everyday, which is good because I need to wash my face every day. Now I use a mix rosewood essential oil and olive oil mostly because I like the smell, but rosewood is also good for the skin. The mix I use is an 1/8th of a cup of extra virgin olive oil and 4-5 drops of rosewood essential oil. I keep it in a glass jar on my bathroom counter.

Why I love it…

I’m done in about 3 minutes.  No moisturizer is needed afterward because my skin isn’t stripped of all its natural oils. The olive oil doesn’t hurt my eyes or taste bad if it goes somewhere it’s not supposed to, it’s gentle enough to use on my lips, and it gets eye makeup off better than makeup remover!

As I mentioned before I’ve only been doing this for about 3 weeks, so I can’t speak to the long term results, or say that it will work for everyone. All I can say with certainty is that my face is healthier and happier than it has been in awhile.  If you’re struggling with your skin, give OCM a try.  A good resource I found is


Vanessa Richardson (when she’s not having fun playing in the mud) is a newlywed living in Los Alamos with her husband Charlie and son Aiden. I’ve known Vanessa since we were kids and always looked up to her as the cooler, older, big sister of one of my best childhood friends. Thank you Vanessa for pulling this together for us. I’m looking forward to trying it out on my newly-developed dry skin.


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Why I’ll never use regular shampoo again

ImageI haven’t used shampoo in two months – well the traditional kind anyway. This blog is all about why I’ll never go back to expensive traditional products.

What have I been doing instead, you ask?

I’ve been washing my hair with a mixture of baking soda and water. More recently I tried a new recipe called Sweet Tangerine and I LOVE it.  Then for conditioner I use a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water to boost shine. I was surprised at how much I like this method. I never thought I could go 2 days between washings with my greasy hair, but alas it’s possible. Not to mention how much money I’m saving by not buying expensive products (recipes at the end).

I haven’t lost my mind

A recent blood test revealed that I have a sluggish thyroid. That wasn’t a huge surprise because I’ve struggled for years doing all the right things and lose weight like I imagine a sloth might. But it wasn’t only that, I was suffering from hormonal changes and severe PMS too.

I started reading anything I could about my issues. It seemed like I was doing everything right (diet, exercise, stress management) except for the one thing no one ever talks about – environmental toxinsespecially in our personal care products. My eyes were finally opened. My body was living proof that we can’t just stop our vigilance at food.

The products we put on our skin (our largest organ), under our arms, and on our head are absorbed into our bodies just like our food.  The American Journal of Health found that skin absorption contributed an average of 64% of the total dose of volatile chemicals in our bodies. Eeek.

In my pursuit of learning more about personal care products, I’ve learned that women typically put 515 chemicals on their skin before they even eat breakfast. Yikes! And men aren’t immune either – they often have multiple products too.


Think about your morning routine and all the products you use daily. Mine used to look something like this…shampoo (25 ingredients), conditioner (30 ingredients), body wash (27 ingredients), face wash (38 ingredients), body lotion (38 ingredients), face lotion (20 ingredients), deodorant (14 ingredients), makeup (~50), hair products (18 ingredients), and perfume (no clue). WHOA, I was floored when I actually started counting them and realized that’s a lot of ingredients to absorb on a daily basis especially since I had no idea what they were. Granted, not all ingredients are toxic but it was still enough to negatively affect my health.

How Toxins Affect Our Health

You know that “just-showered” smell that lingers in the air? That is the work of a chemical called phthalates. In personal care products, phthalates are a scent fixative. In other words, they make smells last longer. The problem is that phthalates are a synthetic estrogen or xenoestrogen and mimic estrogen in the body. That means that particular class of chemicals affects every system in the body that uses estrogen – which is a lot.

This chemical is linked to thyroid dysfunction, early breast development in girls, and an increased risk of breast cancer. It’s also in the category of obeseogen because it is so closely linked to abdominal fat, insulin resistance, and decreased testosterone. It has also been tied to behavioral problems in kids. Phthalates are usually hidden as “fragrance” in your products. It was in EVERY one of my daily routine products.

What else should you be looking for?

As you may have guessed phthalates aren’t the only chemical toxin that impacts our health that we need to watch out for in personal products. Others include: parabens, triclosan, sodium laurel or laureth sulfate, mineral oil, propylene glycol (PEG), DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine), just to name a few. I won’t go into each one of these here but as you can imagine each one comes with it’s own set of warnings.

If your eyes are glazed over – hang in there. I’m about to give you the short cut to getting these toxins out of your life without having to read the labels yourself.

Are you pissed off?

I know I was. But you can stop the toxic exposure for you and your family right now!

When I started down this road I was tempted to say, “everything is bad for me so I might as well just live and not worry about it.” This process seems daunting and overwhelming but I have a strategy for you. It’s the same one I used. It takes a little time (maybe 30 minutes) but it’s SO worth it.

5 Steps to reducing chemical toxin exposure in your personal care products:

Step 1 – Go to the bathroom and pull out all of the personal products you use on a regular basis. Set them in a pile next to your computer. This may include: shampoo, body wash, face soap, lotion, face creams, hair products, makeup, and deodorant.

Step 2 – Visit Now, one at a time, search for your products in the massive database. You can look up brand to get an idea of what kind of ingredients the company uses in general.  Each one will have a rating of 0-10 (0 is safest).  Tip: if you don’t find the exact brand, look up the ingredients separately to get an idea of safety.

If the score is:

  • 0-2 (green) – you’re good, carry on
  • 3-6 (yellow) – replace this one when you run out or sooner if you feel like it
  • 7-10 (red) – stop using and replace with a safer alternative using the EWG database asap

Step 3 – Repeat this process for other family member’s products especially kids. Men are also not immune and have just as many products these days.

Step 4 – Consider making your own products like I did with my shampoo (2 ingredients) and conditioner (2 ingredients). I also make my own deodorant (4 ingredients), body moisturizer (1 ingredient), and face moisturizer (2 ingredients).

Here are the DIY recipes I used…

The benefit of making your own products is that you have some serious peace of mind because you know exactly what’s in it – plus it ends up being a cheaper. Score!

Baking Soda Method: Add 2 Tbs of baking soda to filtered warm water. I use one of those plastic ketchup bottles because it’s easier to apply at the roots. A whole bottle lasts 2-3 washings. You’ll feel that your hair gets clean even though it doesn’t suds up. Then rinse. (2 ingredients – all edible)

Sweet Tangerine Shampoo: Mix ½ cup unscented castile soap, 1 cup raw honey, ~ 1 tsp tangerine essential oil (or other smell or choice). Blend all ingredients together and store in a clear container. I used one with a pointed tip so I can control the amount. You really only need a small amount as this one lathers like crazy. The honey isn’t sticky at all. You’ll be saying “yes, yes, yes” just like in the herbal essences commercials minus the icky toxins.

Conditioner: Add ¼ cup apple cider vinegar to warm filtered water. Again, I use one of those plastic ketchup bottles because it’s easier to apply where I want to. I leave for a minute and then rinse. (2 ingredients – all edible)

Body moisturizer: Technically I didn’t make this one but it’s still a great swap for lotion. While I’m still wet, I slather on pure almond oil and then dry off. It’s even good on your face. A big bottle is $10 and lasts a long time. (1 ingredient – edible)

Deodorant: Mix 1/3 cup coconut oil, 2 Tbs baking soda, 1/3 cup arrowroot powder, and 10-15 drops of essential oil of choice (I used lavender) together in a small glass container.  Swipe a small amount into armpits.  (4 ingredients – all edible)

Face Moisturizer: I started using a mixture of argan oil and apricot kernal oil on my face and I’m loving it. Yes, it’s ok to use oil on your face. It actually cleared mine up. I switch it up with a safe creamier product I found using the Skin Deep Database.  (2 ingredients – all edible)

Step 5 – Reach out to me. I’m super passionate about getting toxins out of our homes and our bodies without the added hassle or cost. As I mentioned earlier, this process can seem daunting and overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve already done the hard work and research for you including the most cost effective ways to go about it.


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Filed under DIY Beauty Recipes