Is Carmex Good For Your Lips? We Asked the Experts About Carmex Lip Balm

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If you love wearing Chapstick or lip balms, then you also know that these particular beauty products can become quite addictive once you start using them. 

You may even have several flavors on the go at any one time like I do: there’s one on my work desk, another in my pocketbook, and yet another on my bedside table. Especially during the cold winter months, the last thing we all need is chapped lips on top of everything else going on.

So, what brand of lip balm do you prefer? Have you ever tried Carmex? Is Carmex good for your lips?

I asked the experts for their feedback, and the answer is yes, Carmex is a good choice as a lip balm. It provides good protection to your lips and has a fairly safe ingredient profile.

That said, some people may run into issues with it, including allergy and addiction (yep).

Let’s take a closer look below!


Meet the Experts

What is Carmex, and Where Did It Come From?

Since 1937, many people have used Carmex to treat their chapped and sore lips. Originally designed to help alleviate the pain of cold sores by Alfred Woelbing in his kitchen, by 1940 he had launched the company’s first classic lip balm onto the market.

It is widely considered one of the best lip balm brands on the market, and makes the lips feel hydrated and protected.

The Carmex company, which is still family-owned, has more than five different products that are currently available in its lip care range. Carmex is made at its Wisconsin headquarters, and is sold worldwide.

Is Carmex Good For Your Lips?

Carmex Classic Lip Balm

Let’s zoom in on the primary question: is the popular lip balm Carmex good for your lips? Well, yes, and you’ll find many happy customers around the world that will attest to this fact with a chap-free smile. 

Dr. Natalie Carlton explains that “Carmex offers comfort from dry or chapped lips and has healing effects. This lip balm’s ingredients are all safe to use. It has menthol and camphor, which cool and shield the lips.”

What are the Benefits of Carmex for Chapped Lips?

Dr. Enrizza Factor tells us that “Carmex can offer various benefits to your skin and lips. First, Carmex does a beautiful job locking in moisture and preventing water loss. Also, it’s a medicated lip balm that is designed to target the most painful of cold sores. Carmex is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and declared a safe and effective medicated lip care product.”

She explains how Carmex protects and rejuvenates dry, chapped lips. Carmex “contains several emollients that form an occlusive barrier on the lips that soothe and soften dry lips. These emollients form a protective barrier that traps moisture in the skin to keep the lips hydrated.”

Carmex does a beautiful job locking in moisture and preventing water loss.

Dr. Enrizza Factor

A Medicated Lip Balm

Carmex Lip Balm Use

Carmex is a Medicated Lip Balm, which means that it is designed to heal dry, cracked lips. It protects your lips from the elements, including UV light. This is important if you’re in the sun getting a tan in order to protect your lips from UV light.

As Dr. Factor explains, “Carmex is good for sunburned lips because it contains sunscreens in its formula and an SPF of 15. Since it contains sunscreen, it is beneficial in the prevention of sunburn, but you should not apply it if your lips are already sunburned.”

Give your lips a rest and apply some aloe vera gel. Once they’ve recovered from the burn, you can start to use Carmex again.

Can Carmex Be Bad For Your Lips?

Dr. Factor says that “Carmex lip balms can provide temporary relief for dry and chapped lips. However, it’s best to stay away from the classic and cold sore lip balm lines. These have ingredients that can irritate and dry out the lips, and actually, make chapped lips worse.”

If your lips are severely dry or chapped, or you have another skin condition that causes your lips to become more sensitive, then you may want to consider the active ingredients in Carmex before you try Carmex for help.

It’s best to stay away from the classic and cold sore lip balm lines. These have ingredients that can irritate and dry out the lips, and actually, make chapped lips worse.”

Dr. Enrizza Factor

That’s because there are a few controversial ingredients contained in the Carmex lip balm formulas that can cause people with sensitive skin, or those prone to allergies, to react adversely to using them. Dr. Factor warns of potential allergies, explaining that you should “make sure you are not allergic to any of its contents before using it”.

So now, let’s take a closer look at the active ingredients used in Carmex’s lip balm and cold sore formulas. Then you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not these products are right for you.

What Are The Active Ingredients in Carmex Lip Balm?

The main active ingredients found in Carmex’s products are camphor and menthol, which work by cooling the skin on contact. However, these two ingredients will end up leaving some people with unnecessary dryness, inflammation, and swelling. 

This is a big reason why there was controversy a while ago about whether or not Carmex is addictive. 

How can lip balm be addictive?

As Dr. Factor states, “Of course, Carmex is not addictive in the sense that it does not contain any addictive ingredients. However, when people apply Carmex, they may feel that they need it on their lips all the time.”

This has certainly happened to me with Carmex and some other lip balms. When I first begin applying Carmex, it starts out restoring the lips. But over time, it turns into a crutch where I feel the constant need to reapply.

Although camphor and menthol, and the other potentially irritating ingredients, aren’t addictive in themselves, the irritation that they can cause people with sensitive skin, such as drying, chapping, swelling, and cracking skin, means they would keep applying it, which can cause a never-ending cycle of use. 

Carmex has multiple different formulas, including some that are designed to be used with cold sores. The different types of Carmex have different formulas, and you should pay attention to the ingredients in the particular formula you’re using.

So, let’s look at the other ingredients that can also cause potential adverse reactions for people with sensitive skin on their lips.


Benzocaine is present in the Carmex Cold Sore formula as an active ingredient. This chemical reduces skin sensitivity, so works to numb cold sores. However, it also has the potential of causing blisters, crusting, drying, and flaking of the skin.

As Dr. Factor states, “it’s best to stay away from the classic and cold sore lip balm lines. These have ingredients that can irritate and dry out the lips, and actually, make chapped lips worse.”


If you’re a major lip licker, then this is an ingredient that you’ll probably want to avoid. That’s because lanolin poisoning is actually a thing. Also, if you’re allergic to wearing wool, then you should definitely steer clear. And if you’re a vegan, you should be aware that lanolin is made from sheep gland secretions.


Fun Fact: Did you know that if you are a daily user of lip balm, then you will basically consume the equivalent of four of these products during a year of use, simply due to you licking your lips?

Did you know that if you are a daily user of lip balm, then you will basically consume the equivalent of four of these products during a year of use, simply due to you licking your lips?

Mineral Oil

According to Carmex’s own website, its formulations include white mineral oil, which is highly refined, tested, and regulated for use in cosmetics and personal care in many countries around the world, including the United States.

But although white mineral oil is safe to use for many people, others can find that their skin reacts with sensations of burning, stinging, redness, or other irritation.

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin Wax is used in some formulations to help seal in moisture on the lips. And although this compound is generally safe to use, some people with very sensitive skin may find that they break out in rashes with continued use.


Just like the white mineral oil included in Carmex’s products, the petrolatum (known better as petroleum jelly) contained in its formulations is highly refined, and has been used safely in many cosmetics and pharmaceutical products all over the world for many years to help seal in moisture. 

Even if this is the case though, some people with sensitive skin will react, because it can clog your pores, and make your lips dry, or cracked, or even cause itching and swelling.


Phenol is an organic compound that will cause your lips to develop a tingling or cooling sensation when it’s applied to them. However, with overuse, it can cause severe skin irritation, and can even contribute to problems with the nervous system. Those with sensitive skin should definitely avoid this compound.

Salicylic Acid

Although those with acne may find this chemical of great use for their skin, using it on your lips is another thing altogether. Salicylic acid disrupts the skin’s natural pH levels and causes exfoliation, so using a lip product that contains it will only make your lips even drier and flakier.

Natural Lip Balms For Sensitive Skins

So, what should you do if you have sensitive skin and want to leave the Carmex on the drugstore counter? Or what other choices do you have if the thought of ingesting four lip balm’s worth of these chemicals over the coming year gives you the heebie-jeebies? 

Well, luckily for you, there are many cleaner and natural lip balm formulations available that will soothe irritated lips and keep your lips soft and smooth during the colder months.

And you won’t have to worry about eating any nasty chemical ingredients!

1. Moroccan Magic’s 5-Piece Variety Pack Organic Lip Balm 

Moroccan Magic Organic Lip Balm 5 Piece Variety Pack Gift Set | Organic Argan and Essential Oils | Smooth | Natural | Non-Toxic | Cruelty Free | 5 Pack
  • Give (or maybe keep) the gift of...
  • MOROCCAN MAGIC: As a true lip balm...

Moroccan Magic’s 5-Piece Variety Pack Organic Lip Balm comes in delicious flavors that include Peppermint Eucalyptus, Rose, Coconut Almond, Lemon Thyme, and Lavender Vanilla.

This completely non-toxic and chemical-free lip balm includes skin nourishing organic argan oil, beeswax, and rosemary extract, which also have healing properties to soothe your lips while keeping them feeling soft.

2. Ancient Greek Remedy’s Lip Balms 

Natural Lip Balm Made of Olive, Jojoba, Cocoa, Almond and Rose oil, Lip Repair for Dry Chapped Lips, Lip Butter Moisturizer for Cracked Lips, Moisturizing Lip Care for Women and Men (3 Pack)
  • Chemical-Free: This lip balm is made...
  • Moisturizing: The lip balm helps repair...
  • Natural Ingredients: Formulated with...
  • For All Skin Types: Suitable for both...
  • 3 Pack: Comes in a 3 pack of lip balms...

If you’re a vegan and want to stay clear of beeswax, then Ancient Greek Remedy’s Lip Balms will do the trick of keeping your lips hydrated, and soothe irritated and chapped lips.

The range comes in three 100% natural flavors — Sweet Orange, Red Mandarin, and Italian Lemon — and also includes skin-nourishing ingredients like rosehip and olive oils, vitamin E, and cocoa butter to keep your lips ready for kissing.

3. Melixir Vegan Lip Butter in Autumn Rain 

Melixir Vegan Lip Butter #11 Autumn Rain(Tinted) (+11 more colors) 0.13oz, Bee Free, Petrolatum Free, Deep Nourishing Plant-Based Vegan Chapstick, Vegan Lip Balm for Dry, Cracked and Chapped Lips
  • 🌿 VEGAN LIP BUTTER: A deep,...
  • 🌿 CRUELTY-FREE & VEGAN: Made without...
  • 🌿 ABOUT MELIXIR: Mindful Skincare for...

One last option for chemical-free lip balms is Melixir Vegan Lip Butter in Autumn Rain, which has been formulated for sensitive skins, and uses 100% natural and plant-based ingredients, like vitamin E and green tea seed oil.

The Melixir range comes in 18 colors to give your lips a healthy glow, including Caramel, Nude Crumble, Havana, Dewy Rose, and Vintage Lust. 

The luscious formulation also includes shea butter and agave to soothe lips and maintain that supple and hydrated feel, while also helping to repair and relieve any current chapping you may have.

Lip Service

So, is Carmex good for your lips? Well, if you’ve been using this brand’s lip treats without a problem, then carry on doing so if they work well for you.

For most people, Carmex is a popular lip balm brand and is an effective way to moisturize and protect the lips.

However, if you suffer from sensitive skin or cold sores, Carmex may be bad for the lips. You may want to try some cleaner and more natural options to help your lips heal and stay moisturized.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).