Stinky Skin Care: three (stinky) remedies that WORK

In one of my favorite books of all time, Little Women, there is a quote:

“…love is a great beautifier.”

And how true that is! (I love love.)
Yet I can’t help but think that if Louisa May Alcott knew what I know, she would have said something different. Something more like:

…things that smell like dead fish in an old gym sock are great beautifiers.” 

Seriously. I’ve got three products to prove it.
All right, I’m exaggerating a bit. These products don’t really smell like the fitness center on a fishing boat. But they DO reflect the whole, natural, skin-loving, living ingredients they’re derived from. And sometimes natural ingredients smell…natural.

And not everything in nature smells like rosebuds. Here’s the deal: our skin is a living, breathing thing. The more alive, robust, and natural our skin care is, the better our skin responds to it. I learned this the hard way: in my fight against acne, eczema and dry skin, I relied on synthetics, “fragranced” drugstore junk, and other products that were, for all intents and purposes, dead.
Not surprisingly, they didn’t work. What my skin truly craved was something different. (I devote a large chunk of the Purely Primal Skincare Guide to this topic.)
And while natural, holistic remedies that smell good are perfectly helpful, some MAJOR power lies in natural products with a MAJOR nose.
And these remedies definitely pack a wallop. I absolutely LOVE them. I’ve even grown to like their signature smells.

Stinky Skin Care Product 1: Green Pasture Beauty Balm with Fermented Cod Liver Oil.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil may smell funky, but it’s a great tool for healing the skin from the inside-out (another topic I tackle in my guide). It’s no surprise, then, that it’s also a topical powerhouse. Unrefined Cod Liver Oil was traditionally used in the treatment of burns, but argh! That smell!
Green Pasture has combined their FCLO with shea butter, butter oil (yes, butter oil – it’s amazing for your face), coconut oil, and cranberry essential oil to make an only slightly off-smelling skin care work of absolute genius. My friends Hayley and Diane are absolutely obsessed with the stuff – as am I.
Smells like…A clean, buttery fish tank…in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. (*joke)
Feels like…A smooth, intensive moisturizing treatment.
Helps with…I’ve heard reports of this balm helping with eczema, rosacea, dry skin, skin tone and redness.


Stinky Skin Care Product 2: Vintage Tradition Tallow Balm

Tallow is one of the oldest, most traditional natural skin care products out there. (We talk about eating “nose to tail” – but what we get from our properly-raised animals doesn’t stop at food!) Components of Tallow match components of the human skin – the skin recognizes this in a way that surprised even me. This balm doesn’t REALLY stink, but the smell is certainly unique.
The catch: your tallow must be from grass-fed/pastured/naturally raised cows. Vintage Tradition has made an amazing tallow balm that also includes organic Olive oil – another one of my go-to skin care oils.
Smells like…A slightly musty picnic in a barn.
Feels like…A smooth, intensive moisturizing treatment.
Helps with…I’ve heard reports of this balm helping with diaper rash, eczema, and dry skin.


Stinky Skin Care Product 3: Seaweed facial mask

Masks are an absolute skin care favorite of mine, as is the amazing nutrition (for body AND skin) that we find in the sea.
Despite the fact that I’m as unfamiliar with seafood as a Kansas girl SHOULD be (Just HOW FAR did that sushi have to travel to get to the Midwest?) I try to incorporate seafood and sea vegetables into my diet – and my skincare routine – as much as possible. Simply take this seaweed powder, combine it with three parts your favorite clay mask (I like Redmond clay) and smear it on.
Smells like…An algae bloom (which isn’t as lovely as it sounds).
Feels like…A tight and intense skin treatment.
Helps with…Skin “detox” (a fancy term for “pore cleansing”), skin texture and tone. Masques like this also give nutrients to the skin.
Does not help with…my jar-opening skills.


I generally blend up most masques with Apple Cider Vinegar (for tightening and toning) or Calendula hydrosol (for a more soothing treatment). While I wait for it to dry, I enjoy a cup of my favorite skin-care tea!

For many more skincare tips and tricks, and the nutritional and digestive help that builds healthy, radiant skin, check out my Purely Primal Skincare Guide!

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45 Responses

  1. What about Neem Oil? Oniony/garlicky scent that will reduce redness and irritation and has antibacterial properties I believe(?)

  2. What’s your favorite skin-care tea? And which of the above are best for healing acne scars? I’ve finally gotten my skin cleared of breakouts (Thanks to a clean diet and FCLO/BO blend gel and a Paleo lifestyle), but I’m now dealing with the icky redness around my mouth left from a crazy bout of hormonal acne. Thank you for your wonderful tips and wisdom – I love the Balanced Bites podcast, your blog, and am excited to get the Skintervention Guide next pay period! 😉
    You rock, Cave Girl!

  3. Love to you, Liz! I’ll be stocking up on some Rooibos and trying the warm water with ginger & lemon juice. Yummy. Thank you for your help!

  4. I’d be willing to try these but I’m really sensitive to bad smells…. I’d hate to make the investment and not be able to use it. I’ll just have to buck up and try it… Do you use all three products or alternate?
    I got your new book and have just started reading it…can’t wait to share info with my daughter and my high school students. I’m seeing a ton of girls with horrible complexions lately. They look at me like I’m crazy when I suggest they change what they eat to help their skin…
    What is fresh muddled ginger? Shall I google it?

    1. I alternate! They’re really affordable so I have them all around at the same time 🙂 If I had to GUESS which would be the more tolerable smell, it’d be the Tallow balm. It’s actually quite earthy and not too bad, and really makes for soft, beautiful skin.
      Thank you so much for buying the book! Let me know what happens with the young ladies 🙂 I can’t imagine, with how much worse the food and environment has gotten, how prone these kids are to skin problems.
      Fresh muddled ginger is just fresh mushed-up ginger! I steep it in hot water just as I would tea.

      1. Thanks for the feedback!! One unrelated question…. Does the FCLO/BB (1/2 tsp daily) eliminate any need for a fish oil supplement?
        Thanks again!

        1. I don’t recommend isolated fish oil supplements at all 🙂 The FCLO/BB is more of a concentrated source of nutrition than an isolated nutrient. That said, there is some EPA/DHA in CLO which, in my own opinion, is the biologically appropriate amount. I don’t believe we need as much fish oil as most folks take! Again, just my opinion, I’m not a doctor, etc…

  5. I am really curious about the green pastures fermented cod liver oil taken internally. I suffered from cystic acne for almost thirty years, trying every drug up to and including accutane. The accutane would clear it for awhile, but each time (I was on it 3 times) my hair became thinner and thinner.
    My acne has cleared up tremendously with a paleo diet after being vegetarian for 30 years. During a raw vegan period, my acne was the worst it had ever been, as well as my anxiety!
    I am currently taking the Garden of Life cod liver oil, but wondering if it is worth my while to upgrade to the green pastures FCLO/butter oil blend.
    I’m curious on your thoughts…my skin is better than it has ever been, but I am always looking to improve.

    1. You know, it’s something I think would be worth trying! I’m just not convinced that most of these Cod Liver Oils are produced properly, even GOL which is a fantastic brand. There’s one other brand I may try that’s in development right now, but not yet available to the public, so I’ll keep everyone updated on that. I would try the FCLO/BO at least once, subbing it in for the GLOCLO, and see if you find any benefits to the switch. My instinct would be you will. If you do make the switch, please do keep in touch with me about it! I want to know what your impressions are.

      1. Hi Liz,
        Just wanted to let you know…I finally went ahead and ordered the Green Pastures FCLO/Butter Oil blend. I am dreading/looking forward to it at the same time! (Dreading the taste, since only the unflavored was available, but looking forward to trying it.) I also ordered the Lewis Labs Brewers Yeast, based on what I read in one of your earlier posts. Oil cleansing has really helped the appearance of my skin, and cutting out grains and sugar has reduced the breakouts, but there is still something out of whack since I get nasty cysts out of the blue.
        Will let you know how I make out after I get through the first bottle. Thanks for the help and support. I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago, after reading Practical Paleo, and I am loving it!

    2. Elizabeth, I used Accutane when I was 18 (6 weeks) and had “beautiful” skin for 30 years and then one day it’s like it just wore off!! My skin is worse than when I was in high school and I’m wondering if the Accutane is part of the problem. I too just purchased the LL Brewer’s Yeast and GP FCLO/BO blend so I am really hoping that it along with a few other things will help. All the best with your journey ~

      1. Carole,
        Thanks for the support!!! Here is what I am doing right now….having been taking the Lewis Labs Brewer’s Yeast for about 3 weeks now. I takes 3 TB each morning…just mix it in a mug with water and chug it down. I have been taking the FCLO/Butter Oil blend for about 2 weeks. The suggested dose on bottle was 1/2 tsp, but for the past week I have been taking a full tsp. I think somewhere I read that Liz double dosed for her first bottle. I have been eating sauerkraut as much as possible…even made my own for the first time. Can’t say I eat it every day, but close. Also have been consuming as much bone broth as possible, and taking the Great Lakes Gelatin when I am not having bone broth. Anywhere from 2 to 4 TB a day. I just mix it in with hot tea.
        I honestly think I am seeing improvement. Still have some breakouts, but they tend to clear up faster. The oil cleansing has definitely helped even out my oil production. I was on accutane a total of three times. Once when I was 16, then again a year later. After that, I was clear for YEARS. But then for past 15 years or so have been back to battling acne. What I am doing now is certainly way more effective than any of the prescriptions I was on.
        Good luck Carole and let me know how everything is going!!!

    3. There wasn’t a way to reply to your last post but thanks for information. I got Liz’s Skintervention Guide and I’m really looking forward to reading it… To clearer days 🙂

  6. Once tax returns are in, so totally getting your guide and these products! I very much enjoy you and Diane’s podcasts and all around information/guidance thats really been supportive in my efforts to be natural/unprocessed in food and in skin care. Thanks SO much!

  7. Hi! Loving your work, podcast, and pre ordered your book. 🙂 wish it’d come out sooner. 😉
    I’m really interested in the FCLO/Butter Oil but here are my gripes…
    1) they don’t list nutrient amounts on the label? Or am I looking in the wrong place? I’d love to know the vit A/D amounts.
    2)… Most importantly to me… Their butter oil isn’t organic?! I wrote them and they said it’s not. 🙁
    So, I’ve been doing Carlson CLO and NutraPro Organic High Vitamin Butter Oil (I use the butter oil in food and the CLO as a supplement).
    Cricket… A recovering vegan / Paleo newbie

    1. Hi Cricket! Think of the FCLO/BO blend as a concentrated super-food. Just like it would be impossible to standardize the nutrients in homemade bone broth, this isn’t a product that can (or should) be standardized. It’s just not the nature of the product. It reflects the inherent variability of nature and seasons, which I look at as a good thing 🙂 The only place we have uniformity of products is at a factory farm or fishery where conditions are tightly controlled…again, not natural :/
      To have the same amount of vitamins A and D every time would inevitably mean adding in “outside” nutrients that had been isolated from their natural source…that said, cod livers are naturally rich in vitamins A and D no matter what, so this product will ALWAYS be nutrient-dense.
      The Carlson CLO adds nutrients (including Vitamin D) after-the-fact to achieve standardization. A more important question for me is: where do they get these outside nutrients? How are they processed to make the same product every single time, when nature is naturally variable?
      Green Pasture was truthful about their product not being certified Organic. They haven’t spent the money on governmental organic certification, which doesn’t bother me at all – simply because I know them and trust them. My my estimation, they are beyond organic and surpass all organic standards (which, IMO, aren’t all that great – especially when it comes to animal products). I guess it comes down to: know your farmer/super-food producer…and I do!
      I hope that helps! Keep in touch!

      1. Good points, Liz. I didn’t know that re Carlson. I will give GP a go, starting w the FCLO and maybe pursue the BO blend later as I have plenty of the BO I mentioned in stock. Now to decide which flavor and form (gel or capsul).
        Thanks for your time. Much appreciated.

        1. That’s not to say that Carlson’s is bad, of course 🙂 but that just helps me contextualize it! If you go with the flavored, I recommend Orange or Cinnamon. And seriously – let me know what you think! Feedback can only help me build on my recommendations. Thanks for being here, Cricket! (PS – I always wanted to be called Cricket. <3 )

  8. Oh fun! I do the oil cleansing method and sometimes I want a little change but I’m always so scared of venturing too far from my comfort zone! I love these brands though so I would totally trust these products! Thanks for the review!

  9. I started reading CGE last year, and tried the fermented cod liver oil based on your recommendation. I was skeptical, but that stuff works! I have had rosacea for a while (Irish/English genes 😛 ) and the FCLO seems to calm it down a lot. That beauty balm from Green Pastures also works better than any cream for eczema – it even beats out cortisone, at least for me.
    Love your site!

  10. Haha… I just got to pp 39-40 and see where you address the fish oil issue! Great reading and I’ve just ordered the tallow! Thanks!

  11. Carrot seed oil!!! Smells kinda like …. Well …. Dirt. Or maybe a fungus. hard to really put it into words. Great for the skin … Anti-oxidant / anti-aging, antiseptic, etc …. But, my husband refuses to kiss me goodnight if I’ve already slathered my fave with my carrot seed oil elixir. 🙂 sometimes a little stink is worth it!!!

    1. That’s too funny! I have carrot seed oil on my face right now and I don’t notice anything! It’s too funny how different all our noses are…a friend of mine just told me she LOVES the smell of seaweed! I can’t even imagine!

  12. Hello Liz,
    What shampoo do you suggest for oily scalp, dry ends and curly hair? I need one that won’t aggravate my bacne, preferably gluten – free as well. Thanks!

    1. Hi there! I put a few GREAT recommendations in my Skintervention Guide, including one for the Gluten-free savonnerie ( which produces totally allergen-free soaps. I think that’s a great place to start if you want something affordable and you’re not ready for no-poo! That said, maybe trying No ‘Poo would work for you? I know some curly-haired gals who absolutely swear by it. If you deal with backne, I’d also suggest switching out your laundry soap for soap nuts, and your dryer sheets for wool dryer balls if you haven’t already. I hope that helps!

      1. Great, thanks for the reply. Any idea on how to reduce face redness (sensitivity) naturally? My cheeks are very sensitive and prone to redness, due to the harsh AHA products I used for acne years ago.

        1. I love the Calendula hydrosol from Mountain Rose Herbs (and the other hydrosols mentioned in the Skintervention Guide, really!) I think aiming for overnight soothing treatments is a great way to go – and pay attention to whether your skin is most calm when you first wake up. If so, aim for stress relief during the day too 🙂 this can calm your entire system and it will be reflected in the skin!
          Calendula really is excellent for soothing, and I do like the calendula oil from MRH.
          If you want something without vitamin E oil added, try Kukui nut oil:
          Hope that helps!

  13. Hi! I’m new here, but love what you are doing! I was looking for an alternative to all the crap I’ve been putting on my face also!
    You may have mentioned it in an earlier post, but what are your thoughts on sunscreen? 🙂

    1. Hi Carrie! I pretty much agree with everything Dr. Michael Holick says in The Vitamin D Solution (I talk about this a ton in the Skintervention guide too). When it comes to sunscreen, I generally would rather go without, and have enough sun exposure to get a hint of color, then cover up or get some shade. If I know I will be out for much longer without much control over covering up/shade, I will go with a PHYSICAL sunscreen like Badger Balm (the thick white nerdy ones!) rather than a chemical sunscreen, even one that says “full spectrum” because those actually DON’T block the rays that are associated with cancer (UVA, which are not the burning rays). The sun is SO important to our health, and I actually prefer sun exposure to vitamin D supplementation. That may be a little confusing…but for more of the “why” I would definitely read this book!

  14. Thanks for the prompt reply, Liz! Cool, I will try to get my hands on Calendula hydrosol soon. What about diet? Any particular food/supplement you mentioned in your book that can help?

    1. Oh gosh…not that I’m trying to sell my book or withhold information or anything…but there’s SO much in there and it’s all relevant! Especially the digestive support section…it’s really like a 1:1 consult without the price tag 🙂 Perhaps you’d be interested in giving it a whirl – you can get it through If it doesn’t help, there’s a money back guarantee! It really all depends on what resonates with YOU and what potential digestive issues OR nutritional deficiencies you might identify for yourself…it’s all in there!

  15. Which would be better for my hormonal acne? I’m having a hard time debating between the tallow balm or the beauty balm from Green Pastures. I’m worried because the beauty balm has coconut oil in it and I’ve heard that some people have horrible breakouts when they have it on their face!

    1. Francesca, you might like one of the tallow balms from! They’re free of coconut and olive oil, which might be best for you.

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