Is Carmex Bad For You? An Ingredient Analysis

Is Carmex Bad For You? An Ingredient Analysis


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Carmex is one of the most popular and widely-available lip balm brands in the US. The brand describes their products as “medicated lip balm” that can “protect dry, chapped lips.”

But does Carmex contain research-backed ingredients for improving the health and appearance of the lips? Does the brand use any questionable additive ingredients? How do real users rate and describe the effects of Carmex? And can Carmex be addictive?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Carmex based on medical studies to give our take on whether the brand is good for the lips, or if it’s bad for you.

We’ll feature real user reviews and reviews from medical professionals.

Ingredient Analysis

Carmex ingredients

The ingredients in Carmex Original are shown above.

White petrolatum is the sole active ingredient, and this ingredient is clinically shown to have an antimicrobial effect (suggesting it has an anti-acne effect), and to support the skin barrier.

This is the same active ingredient in ChapStick and many other commercial  lip balms.

Some of the inactive ingredients in Carmex may also support lip health and appearance.

Beeswax is clinically shown to have antimicrobial activity, as we documented in our is ChapStick unhealthy article.

Lanolin is a naturally-derived wax that may have a skin-moisturizing effect according to a medical review published in the Clinical Medicine & Research journal.

Salicylic acid is an effective exfoliator, according to a 2015 medical review.

There are two inactive ingredients in Carmex that may be questionable from a health perspective.

Phenol is an antiseptic compound that may have negative aesthetic and health effects according to a 2023 medical review:

“Dermal exposure to small amounts of phenol will acutely result in a painless, white discoloration of the skin at the site of contact. Deeper burns may occur if decontamination does not occur promptly. The skin may later progress to erythema and blistering”.

Flavor is a broad descriptor that fails to identify the specific flavoring chemicals used. A medical review published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal suggests that some flavoring compounds and their metabolites may be toxic.

Overall, we consider Carmex likely to support lip health, however we can’t identify any medical studies suggesting this lip balm moisturizes the lips, and we consider this product to be inferior to commercial lip balms like ChapStick.

We do not currently recommend Carmex based on the two inactive ingredients highlighted above.

But how do real users rate and describe the effects of Carmex? We’ll feature some real user reviews in the next section.

Real People Try Carmex

A YouTube creator named “ChristiannaYvonne” shared her experience with Carmex and suggests the brand is dangerous based on side effects she experienced:

A YouTube creator named “its kai” shared her experience using Carmex for the first time:

What's the Healthiest Carmex Product?

Carmex has a number of different product lines. We reviewed every formulation while researching this article, and we consider Carmex Comfort Care Lip Balm to be the healthiest product sold by the brand.

The ingredients in this product are shown below:

Carmex Comfort Care Lip Balm ingredients

This formulation contains flavor but is free of phenol.

There are also more ingredients we consider to be effective than in the Original product.

Tocopherol, better known as vitamin E, was shown to protect the skin from UV damage from the sun in a medical review published in the Drug Metabolism Reviews article.

Murumuru butter is a natural ingredient that can hydrate the skin, as we documented in our Laneige Lip Balm review article.

Colloidal oatmeal may improve skin barrier function, moisturize the skin and have other benefits to skin health according to a 2016 medical review.

Is Carmex Addictive?

A YouTube creator and board-certified dermatologist named "Dr Dray" discusses the risk of becoming addicted to lip balms in a YouTube video with over 100,000 views:

A YouTube creator named "DIY Pinto" suggests that Carmex is addictive in a video that's under two minutes long:

Our Clean Lip Balm Pick

Mind Body Green Lip Balm is our top healthy lip balm pick.

This product has the healthiest formulation of any lip gloss we’ve reviewed. Like Carmex, it contains hydrating natural ingredients like sunflower seed oil and shea butter. 

However it's fragrance-free, preservative-free, dye-free and contains no additive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

Mind Body Green Lip Balm also contains sodium hyaluronate, which was "found to have a positive effect on facial skin health" in a 2023 clinical trial.

Interested consumers can check out Mind Body Green Lip Balm at this link to the product page on the brand's official website, where it's currently retailing for $12.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Carmex may improve lip health and appearance, but we don’t consider the brand to be good for you due to the inclusion of phenol and flavor.

Even compared to other commercial lip balm brands, we would recommend products like ChapStick and Vaseline over Carmex.

Some online skincare influencers have suggested that Carmex can be addictive, although we haven't found any clinical evidence of that and don't consider there to be any serious health risk related to the use of this product.

It’s a good thing that Carmex is fragrance-free and preservative-free, but we believe there are better options at a similar price point, even at drugstores.