DIY Organic Beauty Recipes {Review} & Recipe for Homemade Tallow Balm

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How to Make Homemade Tallow Balm, a natural lotion from Heather Dessinger's DIY Organic Beauty Recipes eBook :: via Kitchen Stewardship

I have never made homemade lotion, nor have I ever even had the desire to, until this week.

I did not relish the mess, the finding of ingredients, and the probability of failure (if you’ve read KS very long, you’ve seen some of my epic fails, yes?).

About the only homemade personal product I’d ever made and enjoyed was my homemade deodorant, and I even let that go when my deo container played out and wouldn’t twist anymore.

I do a lot in the kitchen, but even my kids will  joke that “Mom’s not crafty!”


I was looking through Heather Dessigner’s DIY Organic Beauty Recipes, expecting to find nothing that I would actually bother with, when a few recipes suddenly caught my eye.

Two ingredients. Three ingredients. Things that I already had in my home. I thought, “I could actually maybe do this!”

I’ve since made the Tallow Balm and the Lemon Salve for Even Skin Tone (designed to help fade brown spots), and it didn’t take very long at all (sigh of relief).

The lemon salve is going to take weeks or months to work, but it’s so easy that I’m okay with that.

Do you have weird brown spots on your face? I am NOT old here, people, don’t even think about telling me those are “age spots.” They’re just weird brown spots. And they’re going to go away now that I have my secret witch doctor formula, ha ha! Just kidding about the witch doctor thing. Sometimes my husband thinks anything DIY is a little kooky, but I’m wearing him down bit by bit… ;)

I love Heather’s books for a few reasons: First, they’re very well-researched (in the case of Nourished Baby) and extremely thorough. Second, the recipes are well tested, and not super complicated!

DIY Organic Beauty Recipes by Heather Dessinger

As Heather states on her DIY Organic Beauty Recipes page:

There are some great recipes out there that work really well . . . and some that don’t! Unfortunately it’s impossible to know which it will be ahead of time and it’s always a bummer to have to throw out failed attempts made with fantastic ingredients. Each recipe in this book has been tested over and over to ensure consistent results.

Also, I’ve worked hard to formulate products that will allow you to keep your refrigerator free from the clutter of ultra-perishable beauty products. Though these recipes are not infused with toxic preservatives that will make them last for years on end like those three year-old fast food burgers we’ve seen, most will stay fresh for months at a time. Not only does this cut down on time spent preparing each item since you don’t have to make small batches every week, it also saves you money and cuts down on waste.

I know your fridges look like mine – bursting at the seams, especially now that my “garage fridge” is a thing of the past with the change of seasons. I do not have space for five little jars of such-and-such, thankyouverymuch.

What Recipes are in DIY Organic Beauty Recipes?

DIY Organic Beauty Recipes by Heather Dessinger

Photo by Heather Dessinger

There were a few more that I had hoped to try and didn’t get around to, including a natural microdermabrasion process, a toothpaste powder (above), and a pretty-looking cinnamon and vanilla salt scrub (that I probably wouldn’t have time to use, let’s be honest here, but it tempted me like a recipe on Pinterest with a drool-worthy photo…the ingredients sounded like it would smell good enough to eat!).

Here’s a sample of the Table of Contents for you:

  • Peppermint face and body wash
  • Eye makeup remover
  • a few different soaps
  • Refreshing Neroli and Vanilla Toner
  • 3 different shampoos
  • Fenugreek deep conditioner + 4 more
  • 4 color rinses for different hair colors
  • a hair spray and a pomade
  • Mint chocolate body butter
  • For new mamas: Belly balm, belly butter, and stretch mark diminisher
  • For new babies: Gentle baby wash, butt balm and baby powder
  • Variations on body sprays and solid perfume
  • 4 toothpastes/tooth soaps
  • 3 deodorants, including Man Stink Killer Deodorant
  • Makeup: cheek and lip tint, bronzer, and 3 lip balms
  • 2 sunscreens and a sun relief spray
  • 2 bug repellents

If you have any questions about ingredients, I can try to help in the comments by referring to my review copy. Many of the recipes include exclusive video demonstrations as well, which is a pretty nice bonus (especially for some recipes that might not be quite as simplistic as the ones I chose!).

Recipe: Homemade Tallow Lotion

DIY Tallow Balm - natural lotion from DIY Organic Beauty Recipes by Heather Dessinger

I’m so proud of myself for making this!

Recipe for Homemade Tallow Balm
Prep time
Total time
  • ½ c. beef tallow
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • a few drops essential oils
  1. Simply heat the tallow over very low heat until it liquifies. Optimally at about 120F (you may need to melt, then cool it a little), stir in EVOO and essential oils. Start with a small amount of aromatics and add more if necessary. You don't want the lotion so strong you can't use it.
  2. Mix together and put in a container in the fridge to harden, then store at room temperature.
* Use caution with essential oils, particularly if young children might use the lotion. Please read my 2014 post on the potential dangers of essential oils.

* I was dehydrating something anyway and simply put one of those little muffin cup shapes of tallow (about ¼ cup) in a glass bowl on a shelf of the dehydrator. Without any babysitting, it was melted when I was ready for it. Love that! The bowl just went into the dishwasher, so no messy clean up, either.

* Hugs to my mom for rendering tallow for us! That's love right there, sharing your local, grassfed beef tallow with your crazy daughter and her family. I'll have to make her a batch of unscented tallow balm, just the way she'd like it.

* Renee of MadeOn swears by the addition of beeswax to any lotion, which would make it a bit harder, but it really seals in the moisturizing oils. I have little doubt that beeswax would be an improvement upon this recipe as well, but it would also increase the mess. For those wanting something a little stronger, the MadeOn DIY kit recipes could be made with tallow instead of coconut oil, for example.

DIY Tallow Balm - natural lotion from DIY Organic Beauty Recipes by Heather Dessinger

The resulting lotion is fairly soft, easy to dip out a bit and rub it into your hands. My baby food jar is holding a half batch, simply because that’s the size my tallow wedges from my mom ended up being once it melted. I can imagine quite a number of different containers that would work great, as long as the opening is big enough for your fingers to reach all the way to the bottom to scrape the last little bit out.

The tallow is supposed to be just about the “perfect food” for the skin, according to Heather’s book. It has a very similar saturated fat profile as our skin cells themselves, and it actually tones the skin due to the fat-soluble vitamins contained within. Color me impressed! I need to try this as a facial moisturizer and see if I notice any difference.

Also, how awesome is it that you could make both a delicious snack or a soothing moisturizer from the same ingredient?

DIY Tallow Balm - food for and out! ;)

Tallow makes the best homemade French fries. :)

And on a side note, now that it’s garage sale season again, I got a “new” table runner to use in my photos. Isn’t that floral print just the dose of springtime you need after about 47 days of rain?

Have you ever tried a DIY beauty recipe? What holds you back? What successes have you had?

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to the ebook, Mountain Rose Herbs, and to MadeOn from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.

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21 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Nicole says

    I tried to use the discount code KS20 when buying the book and it said the code has expired… :(

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    So sorry about that! Some weird glitch; it was set to May 2nd, but Heather did fix it now and we’ve both tested it. Our apologies for the inconvenience; I know how frustrating it is when things don’t go right on the computer. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. says

    Based on Heather’s blog comment and after using my mom’s Vintage Traditions lotion (which she bought on my recommendation based on heather’s blog comment), I used the heat left in the oven after dinner to melt tallow, coconut oil, beeswax and olive oil together (start the wax first since it needs the highest heat), then added a little essential oil as it cooled. It needs to be stirred a few times as the temp drops, but it ROCKS!

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. says

    I make homemade products all the time! I almost never use anything store bought anymore. I do still buy plain castile soap but hope to get into making my own later this year.

    I have several recipes on my blog as well…including a special “sun lotion” intended to increase vit D absorption I’ll be posting next week. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. Heather says

    I’d love to try this, but how/where do I get beef tallow?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Good question! I should have posted a “how to render tallow” tutorial before this recipe, huh? If you have access to a beef farmer, you’ll want to buy suet, which is beef fat, then render it (basically just melt it) into tallow, which is fairly stable even at room temp, although I store mine in the freezer for long term. You can buy tallow from places like US Wellness Meats ( and possibly a local butcher. Good luck! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  5. Jill says

    What ingredients are good for a baby who has very sensitive, dry, and eczema skin from head to toe? My daughter has such skin troubles, and instead of lathering her up with a store lotion, I want to make my own whipped lotion for her, but I don’t know which oils & butters to use/combine: coconut, jojoba, sweet almond, mango butter, cocoa butter, shea butter??? I have no idea what’s appropriate for her, and for using on her skin long term.

    And, for rendering beef tallow, is it ANY beef fat? For example I have rib steaks that are fatty. Can I cut the fat off and use that to render?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Poor little one! :(

    You are definitely right that you don’t want a store lotion; even a mainstream doctor will probably tell you that b/c of the drying properties of alcohol in the ingredients. “Best” oil option, I don’t know though. A ton of people have great luck with the MadeOn lotion and eczema – it’s made of coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax. Use less beeswax by just a little for a more spreadable lotion.

    In the long term, though, you want to troubleshoot the source of the eczema. My son’s has all but disappeared with a low-gluten diet, and we’re still working on my daughter’s, which is probably candida related. Here’s a really good guest post on healing baby eczema:

    For the tallow, my answer is: I’m 95% certain you could do that. You’d want to strain it really well to get any meat out though. Good luck!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  6. Teresa says

    I make a lot of beauty products, but I am not crafty. I usually either consider it cooking or chemistry, my brain can handle that, if I think of it as crafts then my brain seizes up. I have found though that for making most of the body care products especially those using beeswax or other not easily washable products a used tin can works well. If you use a small can then you can use a chop stick for stirring, in a larger can a
    regular spoon works well.

    Jill- I do not know off hand but I know there are several recipes online for hard lotion bars that are excellent for eczema and can be used for babies. But you might just want to try a little oil first. I would try a bit of organic coconut oil for a few days then a bit of olive oil etc.

    [Reply to this comment]

  7. says

    I have been making tallow balm for a while now (since I saw a recipe for it in the Wise Traditions journal) and I love it so much! Mine is pretty much the same as this one except I use coconut oil, too. I am hoping some of my brown spots go away, too… and I am (getting) old. :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  8. Angelique says

    I don’t readily have access to tallow, but I do to ghee. I wonder if I can substitute ghee for tallow?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Good question – ghee is considerably softer than tallow, so I don’t know if it would be a great sub. Lard would be better, and many lotions call for coconut oil and beeswax to seal it in. Here’s one:

    Hope that helps! :) katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  9. Shelia says

    Stumbled on your site looking up cracked heal balm (found an item on Etsy for organic tallow, so I had to look it up and found you). Was wondering if you thought this would work with Deer tallow. Deer tallow is a little harder than beef. I have someone that I get deer fat from during deer season (I hate to see it get thrown out) and it makes a wonderful soap.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Definitely worth a try! You can make such a tiny batch to test that it wouldn’t really waste much time or resources if it’s a total fail. My finished product is quite soft, so a bit harder still wouldn’t be very hard to scoop out. If you don’t love the consistency, you could just add more olive or coconut oil to soften it up and/or make “hard lotion bars” out of the deer tallow recipe like this:

    Enjoy! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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