I Bought Ghee for the Keto Diet, But I'm Putting it on My Face

Publish date:
May 13, 2015
nutrition, face oils, oil cleansing, butter, fat, diets

This week my household collectively started the ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low-carb eating plan that is bringing lots of unfamiliar ingredients into the house as we try to make up our macros without subsisting entirely on bacon.

One of those ingredients is ghee, or clarified butter. It has a higher smoke point than butter, which makes it good for frying with, and has a slightly sour, nutty smell. This wouldn’t usually inspire me to rub it all over my face, but ghee has an extensive history of significance in Ayurveda, Hindu traditional medicine.

I feel like I need to start by allaying your fears about the dairy content of ghee, because after I first heard of its use on the skin, all I could think of was that dairy can cause acne. I mean, a bunch of things can cause acne, and my keto diet is going to be high in dairy, so I can’t let myself stress about that too much; but just so you know, ghee is made by simmering regular butter until the water has evaporated and the milk solids can be skimmed off, so it’s 99.5% pure fat.

Gross? Well, no more gross than the many facial oils people rub on their faces, apart from the fact that those oils are usually liquid at room temperature. (If you’re vegan, maybe give this one a miss.)

The fatty acid composition of ghee tells us a bit about what type of skin it’s good for. (Can I take a moment to give Taylor a shout-out for her article about fatty acids? I have it permanently open for reference in cases such as this.) It’s mostly palmitic acid, which is a saturated fat found naturally in the skin and does a pretty good job of maintaining a barrier on the skin. It’s also around 20-30% oleic acid, which is rich and occlusive but a bit too much for acne-prone or sensitive skin to handle.

With this in mind, I’m going to be careful and ease into using ghee on my own skin, because it can be a bit temperamental, but I’m kinda too excited about the idea of new and exciting skincare methods using things I already own to dismiss it completely.

I might start with rubbing just a little over my skin as a final step in my skincare routine, depending on how I can handle the smell (apparently it dissipates quickly). I’m also keen to try emulsifying ghee with water using the Ayurvedic recipe for 100 times washed ghee, which transforms it into a white cream that looks like the conventional Western moisturisers I’m more familiar with.

  • I’m not the only one on xoVain who has been testing out some Ayurvedic ingredients lately. Do you have experience with Ayurvedic practice? Anything else you can recommend?
  • Have you used ghee in your skincare—or cooking—before? Any tips?