Is Carmex lip balm good or bad for your lips?

Carmex is a very popular lip balm brand that has been producing lip care products for over 80 years. Over the years this brand has suffered from rumours claiming that the Carmex lip balms are bad for the lips, confusing users on whether or not to use them. In this review, we will tell you whether or not Carmex is good for you and what are its side effects.

Carmex lip balm

Table of Contents

Abour Carmex lip balms

The first lip balm produced by Carma Lab was the Carmex Classic, a medicated lip balm for cold sores. It comes in a jar, tube, and stick form. It was first designed by the brand’s founder as a remedy for his cold sores. He, later on, sold it in pharmacies door to door until the product became popular and sales exploded.

Since 1999 the Carmex Classic has been voted the #1 over-the-counter lip balm brand according to the Pharmacy Times magazine.

Over the years the brand has launched several other lines of lip care products. However, the classic formula still remains the most popular.

What is in Carmex lip balm?

Here is a breakdown of the ingredients found in the Carmex Classic tube:

  • Petrolatum: It is a refined derivative of petroleum used as an occlusive and skin protectant for moisture retention in the skin. It may be however, contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), cancer-causing chemicals that can also irritate the skin. Although, for cosmetic purposes, these kinds of contaminants are most likely to have been removed.
  • Lanolin: a refined derivative of the fat-like sebaceous secretion of sheep. It is extremely hydrating and helps to soften the skin.
  • Cera alba: More commonly known as beeswax, Cera alba is a natural wax used as an emollient and thickener in cosmetic products.
  • Cetyl esters: This is a synthetic wax used as an emollient and skin condition in lip balm.
  • Paraffinum liquidum: also known as mineral oil, this petroleum derivative is a skin protector and emollient with skin conditions properties. It simply sits on the skin to prevent moisture loss but does not offer any extra benefits like plant oils.
  • Theobroma cacao seed butter: commonly known as cocoa butter it is natural oil used as a skin protectant and occlusive.
  • Camphor: is a natural wax used for healing skin irritations thanks to its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties
  • Menthol: is a flavoring and analgesic ingredient used to soothe dry and irritated skin.
  • Salicylic acid: This ingredient is a skin exfoliant (beta hydroxy acid) that helps get rid of dead skin cells in skin treatments.
  • Aroma
  • Vanillin: a fragrance ingredient that adds a vanilla flavor to the balm.
  • Citronellol: a naturally occurring scent ingredient derived from plants such as rose, geranium, and lemongrass; can aggravate the skin.
  • Geraniol: a naturally occurring scent ingredient found in various essential oils such as rose oil and citronella oil, a moderate skin irritant.
  • Hydroxycitronellal: a synthetic fragrance made from the naturally occurring scent chemical citronellal, can irritate the skin.
  • Limonene: a scent ingredient and solvent naturally occurring in the rind of citrus fruit; can cause sensitivity.
  • Linalool: a terpene used in perfuming cosmetic products, it can cause irritation in sensitive skin.

What does Carmex do to your lips?

Carmex is a lip balm that moisturizes and helps with dry, chapped lips. It includes salicylic acid to gently remove dead skin. When you use Carmex, you may notice a tingling or mild burning feeling. This happens because of menthol and camphor, which give a cooling effect. If your lips are sensitive, this might feel more like a burn.

Is Carmex Bad for You? Understanding the Side Effects

Carmex lip balm is known for moisturizing and aiding dry, chapped lips. However, it’s important to be aware of its side effects.

The menthol and camphor in Carmex cause a tingling sensation, which may be too intense for those with sensitive lips.

Additionally, camphor can lead to allergic reactions, characterized by redness and irritation.

The balm also contains synthetic and natural fragrances, potential irritants for sensitive skin types. While Carmex offers benefits, it’s crucial to consider these factors, especially if you have sensitive or reactive skin.


What happens if you use too much Carmex?

Carmex usage rate is indicated to use as required. However if for some reason you apply too much of it, you may feel intense tingling sensations on your lips. Carmex contains menthol and camphor which gives a cooling effect. Too much of it may cause you an uncomfortable tingling sensation.

What happens if you put Carmex under your eyes?

The camphor and menthol as well as fragrances in the product may end up irritating your eyes and causing them to water. If you have sensitive skin, your skin may be prone to allergic reactions to said ingredients, like swelling, redness, and irritations.

Is Carmex good for sunburned lips?

Yes, it can be. The Carmex Classic stick not only protects and helps heal chapped lips caused by exposure to the sun. It contains sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. This means that the skin of the lips when covered in Carmex, takes 15 more times to burn than when exposed to the sun.

Does Carmex make your lips bigger?

No. The Carmex Lip balm is not designed to make the lips bigger. In case of any swelling, this is a sign of an allergic reaction and you should rinse off the product and see a doctor.

Does Carmex dry out your lips?

This lip balm is formulated with petrolatum which is an occlusive skincare ingredient used to trap moisture and boost the skin’s hydration. It also contains emollients like cocoa butter, beeswax, and mineral oil that contribute to softening the skin of the lips.

Furthermore, camphor in Carmex helps boost collagen production for firmer and plumper skin. For this reason, Carmex should not dry out your lips but if you are sensitive to any of its ingredients it could cause some undesirable reactions.

Is Carmex good for cold sores?

Carmex Classic lip balm is formulated to soothe the symptoms of cold sores, such as pain, itching, and dryness. However, it’s important to note that while it provides symptomatic relief, it does not cure or get rid of cold sores.

For a more targeted treatment, Carma Labs offers the Carmex® Multi-Symptom Cold Sore Treatment. This specific product contains benzocaine, an FDA-approved ingredient effective in temporarily alleviating pain and itching related to cold sores and fever blisters.

Is Carmex safe during pregnancy?

Because Carmex contains salicylic acid even though not in high concentration, it is best to consult with your doctor before use.

Does Carmex cause cancer?

Carmex lip balm contains ingredients like petrolatum, which may raise concerns due to potential contamination with carcinogenic chemicals. However, the refinement process generally removes these contaminants, and there is no substantial evidence to support the claim that Carmex causes cancer.

Final thoughts – Is Carmex lip balm good or bad for you?

Carmex contains a mixture of natural and synthetic ingredients so it’s not an all-natural product. It contains several moisturising ingredients and ingredients that help to soothe irritated lips.

Some ingredients found in Carmex are known allergens such as Citronellol, Linalool and Limonene so if you have sensitive skin you may get a reaction. Camphor and menthol which are added to soothe lips can also cause irritation and a tingling sensation.

Mineral oils in Carmex help prevent moisture loss but they don’t add any extra benefits, contain no vitamins, and don’t penetrate the skin to help it heal within.

Taking everything into account, Carmex lip balm does offer some benefits but it’s not the best lip balm you can use to moisturise and soothe your lips as it contains several synthetic ingredients. Mineral oils and synthetic fragrances are of particular concern here. It’s better to moisturise your lips with natural-based ingredients to nourish your lips deeply.

Related content:

Burt’s Bees Lip Balm Review

+ posts

Petra Nakashian (previously Kravos) is a dedicated natural health and beauty blogger, driven by the loss of her parents to cancer, which led her to meticulously research beauty product ingredients. With over 10 years of experience, her in-depth knowledge has made her a trusted expert in the field. Founder of Be Healthy Now and Green Beauty Talk, Petra recently expanded her expertise with Beauty Insights Hub, exploring a wider range of beauty treatments. Committed to transparency and honesty, her work is a vital resource for navigating the complex world of beauty.