By Clive Wright

Can You Really Use Tallow for Eczema?

If you’ve been googling 'how to heal eczema', you’ve probably noticed a lot of conflicting information.

On the one hand, some will say there's no cure to eczema, it's rather about managing the condition. It could be managed by avoiding certain triggers, such as mould, pollen, dust, and harsh soaps and detergents. Others will claim it's treatable with steroid creams. So, what's an eczema sufferer to do? First, let's explore exactly what eczema is and how it impacts your skin.

What is eczema?

Eczema is an umbrella term for seven different immune-reactive skin conditions, the most common being atopic dermatitis. This may cause red and inflamed, dry itchy skin in people of all ages, including children.

While eczema involves the immune system, the relationship between the immune system and eczema is still not properly understood by experts.

What we do know, according to research from nearly 500 Australian general practice clinics in 2020, around 16 per cent of the Australian population will suffer from atopic dermatitis at some point in their lifetime.

Eczema tends to flare up most when the temperature drops and/or when allergens come into the air. That's why eczema flare ups will often happen at the change of season, from summer into autumn, and winter into spring.

How eczema damages your skin barrier

Filaggrin deficiency, a protein first discovered by Beverly A. Dale in 1977, is thought to be involved in a breakdown of the skin barrier and a cause of atopic dermatitis. 

Filaggrin helps the body defend itself against 'intruders' including environmental allergens such as pollen, mould, bacteria and dust. While keeping the intruders out, it plays an important role in keeping moisture, all the good stuff, locked in. 

When filaggrin isn’t working properly, the skin barrier falls apart. Eczema leaves the skin significantly more prone to losing water and vulnerable to irritants, allergens and bacteria. This drives both further dryness and inflammation. This can be a vicious cycle for eczema sufferers, as with a weakened skin barrier, it's more difficult to lock in water.

Eczema sufferers may experience difficulty with their skin holding in water, as noted by the American Academy of Dermatology Association. This means an increase in transepidermal water loss (TEWL), impacting their skin barrier function.

What triggers eczema?

Just understanding the triggers of eczema symptoms can be a challenge. It can be environmental, seasonal, and even have a genetic cause. Some of the potential and commons triggers of eczema include:

  • Environmental factors (e.g. mould, dust, smoke, dry air, pet fur and pollen)
  • Seasonal changes (both micro changes when moving from a humid environment to a drier environment, and macro changes when the actual seasons change)
  • Trigger foods (e.g. gluten and dairy)
  • Harsh personal care products (e.g. strong fragrances, surfactant-based soaps and cleansers)
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Genetics

    There are two camps on either side of some of the triggers, which is why it can make determining the cause of eczema so difficult. The Eczema Association of Australasia (EAA) has provided a checklist to help individuals find triggers.

    It's believed by some that petroleum and mineral oil can cause eczema, due to increasing oxidative stress and inflammation long term, although experts are divided on this.

    Water can also potentially be problematic for eczema. While some experts will say it's a matter of regulating the temperature of the water, other experts claim that cleansing the skin in hard water can irritate and disrupt the skin health pH balance, leading to eczema flare-ups. Spending a long time in the water (e.g. swimming in a pool or taking a long shower) can also be a trigger, due to temperature and/or chemical interactions such as chlorine.

    What are the best eczema treatments?

    Firstly, the most important thing is reducing or avoiding common triggers. As it can be difficult to determine these triggers, those from suffering from eczema symptoms may find relief in topical treatments.

    According to the experts, the best eczema treatments are thought to be ones that reduce water loss. As such, common ingredients found in eczema creams include petrolatum and vegetable butters, such as cocoa butter or shea butter. These ingredients are often found in products called 'barrier creams' where the main function is to support healing and soothe the skin, even scaly skin or flaky skin.

    Eczema creams are believed to be most effective when they contain ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol in specific formulations and sufficient concentrations. These ingredients may strengthen the skin barrier by penetrating the stratum corneum cells and adding to the natural oils that the skin cells produce. (Editor's note: That sounds like something else we know.)

    Is tallow good for eczema?

    Grass fed and grass finished beef tallow has all the right ingredients to help with eczema. Tallow contains a high concentration of fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides.

    Beef tallow has a high concentration of fatty acids compared to most vegetable oils and plant-based butters.

    Grass fed tallow has a high concentration of palmitic acid (26 per cent). This directly aids the skin barrier in improving skin hydration and reducing water loss from the skin's surface, which is a key concern for eczema sufferers.

    Grass fed tallow also contains palmitoleic acid, which studies suggest is beneficial for reducing inflammation and redness in the skin. This may assist with managing eczema, as well as psoriasis, rosacea, and generally irritated skin.

    Furthermore, grass fed tallow contains stearic acid at high levels, which is known for its skin softening properties. It has high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which a study from 2020 determined could relieve skin inflammation. Outside of tallow, CLA is otherwise difficult to find in nature.

    Using beef tallow for skincare may help to protect the skin from environmental stressors. Tallow Balm can be classed as a barrier cream due to its emollient and occlusive properties which help heal, nurture and protect the skin.

    Tallow Balm versus moisturiser to repair skin barrier

    Barrier creams, such as a grass fed Tallow Balm, maintain and protect the physical barrier of the skin and prevent the skin from drying out. They stop transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and skin breakdown by providing a topical barrier on the skin.

    Barrier creams act as a shield against potential irritations, such as dust or pollen, which is it can make a huge difference in helping heal damaged skin.

    If barrier creams form a protective layer over the surface of your skin, are they the same as a moisturiser? Not exactly, but they can easily be.

    A regular moisturiser will hydrate the outer layer of the skin while barrier creams restore the skin barrier itself. With the emphasis on hydrate, the key ingredient in moisturisers is aqua, quite simply, water. Essentially, you don't need to buy the moisturiser separately to get the same benefit, especially when moisturisers are often laden with sensitising, synthetic ingredients. Tallow Balm is a multi-purpose product complete with fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins that can also take the place of a regular moisturiser.

    Tallow Balm versus cream for eczema

    Tallow Balm is a concentrated formula made with tallow, cocoa butter, beeswax and other skin-loving ingredients.

    Balms, when applied to damp or dry skin alone, not only provide moisture, but also help the skin retain moisture and provide eczema relief.

    It can be more effective than a tallow-based eczema cream or regular moisturiser for treating certain skin conditions because of the presence of several different emollients and humectants.

    Tallow functions as an emollient with occlusive properties, while beeswax acts as a humectant to lock in hydration while softening the skin. Several studies show the benefits of topical beeswax in supporting the skin barrier.

    The main difference between a balm, moisturiser and cream is that most balms are formulated with oils, butters and/or wax.

    The main ingredient in most creams or moisturisers is water. Water-based products require preservatives or risk going rancid.

    If a tallow-based eczema cream doesn't incorporate water, it will often be whipped to create a fluffy consistency. This means that many tallow-based eczema creams are filled largely with air, regardless of the net weight of the product.

    With regular moisturisers, the customer unfairly pays for a predominantly water-based product. With tallow-based eczema creams, the customer unfortunately pays a high price for air.

    What's more, in natural skincare, a fluffy consistency without the presence of stabilising ingredients such as emulsifiers and preservatives means the formula will also oxidise more quickly. This means a sharp increase in the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, shortened shelf life, and reduced efficacy of the active ingredients.

    Tallow is one of nature's best moisturisers​

    Big Skincare aside, our skin is fighting a battle against Big Oil, too.

    Many drug store-bought eczema skincare products are primarily made with mineral oil (often labelled petroleum or petrolatum, depending on where you come from). It's common to see this ingredient in regular moisturisers and eczema products, as well as lip gloss and lip balm, because it also gives a shine to products. Yes, mineral oil can help protect the skin. But better to use a barrier cream that helps support our skin’s natural functioning. 

    Tallow Balm is gentle on your skin. Tallow is unique in that is closely mimics the oils found in healthy human skin, even compared to other natural skincare and pharmaceutical products. Unlike petrolatum-based creams, which simply provide a thick barrier over the top of skin, Tallow Balm mimics your skin’s natural sebum to help accelerate the healing process while also helping repair barrier function. It’s a gentle, non-toxic alternative with the added benefit of fat-soluble vitamins and naturally-occurring fatty acids.

    Eczema treatments to avoid

    When it comes to managing eczema, it's best to avoid creams and balms with strong fragrances, harsh preservatives, and alcohol, especially with the intended goal of healing a compromised skin barrier. It's important to avoid sodium lauryl sulfate in soaps and detergents to avoid irritation of the skin. This includes soaps, shower gels, and laundry detergents (even some fabric softening detergents).

    And word to the wise: Don't have hot showers or baths trying to 'burn' it off. Eczema sufferers can actually get drier from a bath or shower, unless an effective moisturiser is applied immediately afterwards (again, it's all about locking in that moisture).

    By applying a natural cream like Tallow Balm, you are adding another barrier to supplement the natural skin barrier. This not only reduces the amount of water you lose through evaporation from the skin, but it also keeps out unwanted things, such as bacteria or irritating substances.

    Other tips to manage eczema naturally

    1. Use moisturisers generously

    Gentle barrier creams and other thick balms contain more oil, making them most effective at locking moisture in. 

    2. Hydrate

    You’ve got to keep your skin adequately moistened. Drinking plenty of water daily is key to this process. Fans of alcohol and coffee should consider giving up or reducing consumption of their favorite beverages this winter. They’re diuretics, meaning they’ll cause you to be dehydrated. As you refrain from booze and caffeine drinks, increase the amount of water you drink. That’s the best way to stay hydrated, and that protects your skin barrier.

    3. Vitamin D

    Eczema sufferers will sometimes also have vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D plays a critical role in skin barrier function and immune response, something which is weakened in those with eczema. Unobstructed sunlight is key in boosting vitamin D, as well as incorporating more vitamin D-rich foods (e.g. beef liver, wild-caught salmon, sardines,and dairy products), which brings us to our next point...

    4. Diet

    Did you know you can also eat your water? Our cell membranes are made up almost entirely of fats so the right foods go a long way in boosting hydration. Make meals around avocado, wild-caught salmon and grass fed beef. For snacks, reach for seasonal, nutrient-rich foods including apples, pears and root veggies at the onset of the cooler months to up hydration levels.

    5. Exclusively oil cleanse

    Surfactants in foaming cleansers can cause dryness and irritation. Double or triple cleanse with Cleansing Oil to remove the day’s impurities and add fresh moisture to the skin. This will help keep your skin’s microbiome in balance without overstripping your skin. Cleansing Oil contains castor oil, which is around 90 per cent ricinoleic acid, a rare fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties, especially beneficial for eczema, psoriasis and acne-prone skin.

    6. Wear soft, natural fibres only

    Rough or synthetic fabrics can irritate skin and some types of clothing are more likely to encourage a flareup. Choose clothes made from breathable, natural fibres, such as cotton, linen and silk. When dealing with eczema, it's especially important to layer clothing to make sure you can regulate your temperature optimally depending on the external environment. Note: Some 'scratchy' natural fabrics like wool may irritate the skin, so it's important to dress in softer fibres where possible.

    7. Use a humidifier

    A humidifier adds moisture back to the air and helps your skin remain supple. It's also great to help with breathing issues, especially those caused by colds or allergies. You can add a humidifier to your bedroom and another in any room of your home where you spend a great deal of time.

    8. Take shorter, milder showers

    Though long, steamy showers are tempting, the hot temps damage the skin barrier, leading to more inflammation and dryness. Many people love using steaming hot water because it's relaxing for muscles, but it's not great for your skin, especially during an eczema outbreak. Try using room temperature or lukewarm water instead. It’s important to moisturize after stepping out of the shower. That might seem counterintuitive, but water will evaporate from your skin after bathing. So applying a moisturizer within a few minutes after the shower will serve to lock in water. It’s a good habit to get into that will help you avoid future flare-ups.

    9. Take a food sensitivity test

    Around 30 per cent of children suffering from moderate and severe eczema also have a food allergy. Common trigger foods may include dairy or gluten. Rather than eliminating foods altogether, it's first recommended to take a food sensitivity test.

    10. Remove asthma triggers

    There is a strong link between eczema and asthma, with research finding that approximately 20 per cent of adults with eczema also have asthma. Using a HEPA air purifier can help keep airborne allergens at bay.

    Change in season to autumn or spring can mess with your skin barrier and flare up skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis. When temperature and elemental fluctuations impact our own skin care, it's important to add extra moisturising support. Emollient ingredients, such as tallow and cocoa butter, are effective moisturisers. Add more Tallow Balm during the drier months to moisturise and provide a protective barrier.

    Baby eczema flare ups

    When it comes to infant eczema, it's prudent to take the same precautions, plus, pay extra attention to the child's behaviour to minimise potential triggers.

    For example, keeping their nails short will help prevent your baby from scratching themselves. In the winter, you may also like to use socks or cotton mittens to cover their hands.

    Adding a protective skin barrier is paramount for young children prone to eczema, especially for the messy eaters. A gentle barrier cream like Tallow Balm can help prevent acidic foods like tomatoes and berries from aggravating your baby's skin, while also protecting against excess saliva.

    Tallow Balm for eczema

    Tallow Balm is loved by customers with eczema for its gentle, nourishing properties. Many customers have reported success with Tallow Balm after trialing other natural skincare products and conventional eczema treatments.

    "Amazing. Bought as a last resort to help ease my eczema using something left field and as natural as possible. The results 2 weeks in are beyond what I expected when compared to other products. The red undertones due to my eczema have decreased by 60% and the dry scaly patches are near to non-existance now. I typically use less than a thumb nail of product and warm it in my hands and apply only in the morning. Very happy with this product, will definitely be buying again!" - Paola, Holy Grail Tallow Balm customer, September 2023

    "So glad I found this. This product left me beaming smugly for the first time in a long time. Aside from weather sensitive skin due to eczema, psoriasis and rosacea, I was also dealing with some fine lines that I’ve noticed. The tallow balm has helped quite a lot in the matter of a week. I highly recommend this product." - Kavey, Holy Grail Tallow Balm customer, March 2023

    Eczema flare ups? Tallow Balm is here

    It was eczema and a frustration with the available skincare options that led to the creation of Holy Grail Tallow Balm. Upon naturopathic advice, with success incorporating tallow into diet, it became the natural next step in our co-founder's skincare routine, too. 

    At TUTTOFARE, we have many customers using Tallow Balm to manage eczema, including on their child's sensitive skin.

    Holy Grail Tallow Balm is an all-rounder, multipurpose cream formulated for all skin types. Holy Grail Tallow Balm is free from essential oils, parabens, phthalates and petrochemicals. It's a gentle, all-natural formula containing nourishing ingredients including tallow, beeswax and cocoa butter, which are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

    If you've tried everything for eczema, you need to try the everything balm. Shop Holy Grail Tallow Balm today.

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