Would you put pork fat on your face?
I’ve started using a moisturizer that most people would describe as…gross. After trying it, I say it’s gross and fabulous.
I’ve always had very sensitive skin. On my face, my skin expresses it’s tender nature by being dry, scaly, patchy, and red in most places…and breaking out in all the others.
I had this idea that the 30s would be a sweet spot between acne and wrinkles, and instead I’ve learned that, like a Venn Diagram of skin woes, you get both! Bonus!
Anyway, in past lives I’ve tried all kinds of skin remedies, natural and artificial, to soothe and moisturize my skin. (You can read more about my realization that I was being lied to about skin care products here.) My quest for normal skin (I’m not looking for flawless, here, just simultaneously non-patchy and non-cystic) has taken me from drug-store acid-based acne fighters to expensive department store specialty under eye wrinkle cream to prescription hard core zit cream and daily antibiotics.
Slumping Towards Lower Maintenance
Looking back only two constants held true. 1) The more I did to my skin, the worse it got. 2) Whenever I was wrist deep in animal fat (making lard, skimming tallow, etc.) my hands became soft and lost their deeply abused look…at least temporarily.
After the birth of my second child, hygiene fatigue combined with frugality and I started doing less and less “maintenance” for my appearance – haircuts happen on about an annual basis and the idea of browsing aisles for the perfect combination-skin calming cream when I still don’t get a daily shower is just laughable.
I took up oil cleansing, and liked it. The almond oil I used to wipe off the day’s grime really did the trick, and was cheap compared to things marketed as cosmetics, but the oil went rancid in my warm bathroom pretty quickly.
I tried coconut oil, which many people adore. The solidity of the coconut oil at room temperature required hand-rubbing to soften the oil enough to make it usable. More than this, the coconut oil I tried burned the skin on my face. This is, as far as I can tell, pretty unusual. If you love your coconut oil I’m not knocking it, just saying it didn’t work out for me.
The coconut oil experiment led to the following internal debate:
“Coconut oil is kinda like vegetarian lard. People love coconut oil, but I love lard. I could moisturize with lard.”
“That would be really gross.”
“But pigs are really close to people. Remember, there was that super creepy CSI episode where the pig is used to study the -”
“Um…stop. This is getting grosser by the second. You have terrible powers of persuasion.”
“Well, my point is, if pigs are similar in their body make-up to people, then doesn’t it make sense that pork fat would work well as a people moisturizer?”
“You’re going to do this pork-turizer thing no matter what I say, aren’t you?”
“Oh, I am so trying this.”
“Please don’t ever mention that CSI episode again.”
And so, tentatively, I dabbed a bit of clean (not yet used in the kitchen) lard onto my cheek.
Homemade Gross vs. Industrial Gross
So, ok, lard has a bad rap. I get why the idea of smearing pork fat on your skin might put people off. But consider what you probably already put on your skin if you use a standard suite of soaps, moisturizers and cosmetics.
Heavily-used fast food deep-fat frier oil (almost certainly GMO and partially-hydrogenated) is recycled for soap and make-up, and rendered animal fats and their derivatives are common in pretty much every conceivable skin or cosmetic product you might put on your face.
And the stuff that goes to the rendering plant where that fat comes from? That’s the stuff that’s not good enough for pink slime, know what I mean? It doesn’t meet even the bare minimum legal standards for human consumption. (If it did, it’d be in a hot dog, not lipgloss.) In fact, if you’re not actively seeking out vegan skin care products, you probably don’t just rub animal fat on your face…you rub industrial waste animal fat on your face.
Now, please don’t take this as judgement. I have some industrial waste animal fat lipstick in my bathroom cabinet right now. I bring this unpleasantness up to make the point that you are very likely already rubbing “gross” animal fats or their derivatives on your skin.
In contrast, the lard I’m rubbing on my cheeks is rendered in my own kitchen from the unprocessed fatback of humanely raised pigs that had a good life and one bad day. Unlike the fats used extensively in commercial soaps, moisturizers and make-up, the lard I use came from the fat of one animal, not whatever combination of road kill and dead zoo creature happened to get thrown into the rendering vat that day.
There now, doesn’t some nice home-rendered kitchen lard moisturizer seem downright Happy Hippie compared to all that? I’ve been rendering lard for quite awhile for cooking, and it seems to me that it can’t be that weird to put something on my skin that I’m already willing to eat.
Does It Work?
Other than a vague and short-lived porcine smell, my lard moisturizer is great. It leaves a thin sheen that absorbs into my skin quickly. I was already accustomed to the temporary residual shine left from oil cleansing, so the degree of greasiness from the lard doesn’t phase me at all.
At room temperature the lard is creamy and easy to rub in, and it takes very, very little to moisturize my entire face.
I’ve had no reaction to the lard, and actually it feels downright soothing on the skin. And since I’ve started smearing pork fat on my face my skin just looks better. The big dry patches are gone and my skin feels genuinely smooth. I haven’t had a problem with break-out or pore clogging. Quite frankly, I’m not sure I can think of a downside.
Would you ever use animal fat as a moisturizer?243
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I’ve seen an investigative report on skin care products. The conclusion was the main ingredient was usually a moisture barrier that kept moisture in your skin. Some animal fats. And the rest of the ingredients were just gimmicks. And the expensive skin care brands were not any better and sometimes not as good as the cheep ones.
The biochemist actually said that you’d be better off just putting lard on your face. i.e. it’s a saturated fat that keeps the moisture in your skin and protects from the outside world.
Same concept as waxy lip balm. Wax is a moisture barrier that helps keep moisture in and the outside world out.
I have been using lard or cleaned organic bacon grease as a moisturizer and really like it. It makes an awesome sugar scrub too.
I found this blog post because I deliberately searched “bacon fat, can it erase wrinkles?” A very trustworthy source I have was told years ago by one of the Revlon CEO’s that the most effective treatment they have found for wrinkles was pig fat. According to this CEO, a lot of research went into it, but they kept it silent because they feared what the consumers reaction might be. I personally believe that it was because they couldn’t paton pig lard and so went on their way to try and reinvent the wheel. It believe you were inspired with this secret that the Revlon company still keeps hidden, although I’m sure it’s leaked here and there. Would love to know how you render the pig fat? The lard I’ve been rendering comes from bacon and doesn’t look clean enough to put on my face.
I found this blog post because I deliberately searched “bacon fat, can it erase wrinkles?” A very trustworthy source I have was told years ago by one of the Revlon CEO’s that the most effective treatment they have found for wrinkles was pig fat. According to this CEO, a lot of research went into it, but they kept it silent because they feared what the consumers reaction might be. I personally believe that it was because they couldn’t patent pig lard and so went on their way to try and reinvent the wheel, so to speak. I believe you were inspired with this secret that the Revlon company still keeps hidden, although I’m sure it’s leaked here and there. Would love to know how you render the pig fat? The lard I’ve been rendering comes from bacon and doesn’t look clean enough to put on my face.
Yes, I do this too! I make a lot of bone broth so one day I wondered how I could put all the good fat to good use. I found out that our grandparents probably would have used pork lard as a moisturiser, so I got to it pretty quick. It does wonders for my dry skin, I keep it next to the bathroom sink and use it after washing my hands. Hands are looking much better now and I’m so glad to have excellent free home made hand cream. Perfect for morning face cream ! My friend calls me Miss Lardy Face, we laugh!
Lard was once used for oiling engines and later to make explosives during the war. To make up for the shortage at time of conflict vegetable oils came in to replace the lard which then got pushed out of its former market.
I mix a few drops of essential oil in with my lard, not bad at all!
I’m delighted every time I come a tiny step closer to complete self sufficiency and local interdependence.
P.S. The best stuff for for skin is the outdoors, lots and lots of it!!
I use chicken fat on my hands and for chapped lips. Great stuff. Plus i am allergic to coconut oil.
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use the grease/fat from a roast chicken to rub into your hands and they will be really soft you could use it on any rough skin areas..
rub and massage it well into the skin and then wash off the access with a mild soap 🙂
I’ve used beef tallow which worked nicely for me but I decided that I preferred to cook with it.
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It works perfectly for me. Just lard is mixed with organic bee wax and dried herbs from the mountain which gives it nice smell. The combination is perfect moisturizer.
I use beef tallow and love the stuff! I’m like you very sensitive, prone to rashes, rosacea as well as dry skin and this stuff does the trick I was thinking about duck fat as well. For my body especially during the winter months. Thanks for the post!
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Laurette S. says
As southerners, specifically creole southerners, a can of rendered pig fat next to the stove is an old fashioned cooking “must have.” Until both of us got health conscious, that is… Then the can had to go, and as woman of the house (hear me roar/whine) the task was left to me. I emptied the contents into the garbage but wanted to keep the stainless steel container. How was I to get all that wall sticking “gunk” out? Gotta go in manually, and I don’t have time to find rubber gloves, soooo – I grabbed a big sheet of paper towel and went to work. Of course some got on my dominant right hand (okay, a LOT got on my right hand…). After washing my hands twice, I noticed that my right hand was soft as a babies behind! I did a Google search and found this article. Well kiss my grits (and my bacon fat softened hand)!
I make chicken schmaltz all the time, rather than late from pig, all I was wondering, why not?
I just made a whole Sabbath meal with the stuff and I know it’s healthy for you, all I have to figure it’s got to be good for your skin.
I’m going to try it now.
Tommy Alderman says
Ha. This was so well written. Thoroughly enjoyable. We raise American Guinea Hogs (AGH), and I was asking Mr. Google about the possibility of making a conditioning beard balm using lard we’d rendered ourselves. I found this link instead, and while it doesn’t COMPLETELY answer my questions, I’m very glad to have read it.