Pros: good for cold sores and fever blister treatment
Cons: not a good lip balm, very drying
When I was 16, I purchased a small pot of Carmex at the drugstore. I used it for years for chapped lips, then I had stopped using it.
Two years ago I saw it at the counter of my local phrmacy for $1.29 and I picked it up. The familiar camphor/menthol smell and tingling sensation on my lips took me back to the days when I first discovered Carmex. I started to use Carmex constantly on my lips, never missing a 'several times' a day application.
My lips weren't dry or chapped. Until I misplaced my Carmex pot. Suddenly they were peeling off. I thought, wow, without my Carmex my lips are a wreck!
Not exactly. I have never had a cold sore before. That is what Carmex is really useful for. From:
"An extensive article on lip balms appeared in the November 13, 1997 issue of Newsday. Titled "Paying for Lip Service," the article discusses several points in the quest for defining the addictive qualities of lip balm.
The author asked several experts:
Which helps explain why you can diligently apply "medicated" lip balm several times a day and still suffer from chapped lips. The tingling sensation you get from those products usually comes from menthol, camphor or phenol. "All those things are drying and irritating," says Paula Begoun, a well-known critic of the cosmetics industry whose new book, "The Beauty Bible" (Beginning Press, $16.95), is due out this month. She says she suspects that these ingredients are routinely used "to make the consumer think something is happening. If you want a cooling sensation, drink some cold water."
Known as counter-irritants, camphor and menthol dry out the lips, a necessary step for healing cold sores, but too extreme for ordinary dryness. Phenol's main purpose is to kill bacteria and help prevent infections and should be used only in severe cases, not on a daily basis. Users, meanwhile, often find the pleasant tingling habit-forming. "You get so accustomed to that cooling, soothing sensation, that it's like, `Yeah, I need that in my life all the time,' " says Gordon Espinet, a makeup artist for Toronto-based M.A.C. cosmetics and a dry-lip sufferer. Subjected to this constant irritation, it's not surprising that your lips don't get any better.
Carmex also contains salicylic acid, a compund that's related to aspirin. This is to dry out cold sores and relieve pain from them. Another reason why my lips were peeling if I skipped on the Carmex.
The Carma-Lab website says that people with sensitive lips can experience a reaction to the salicylic acid in Carmex and should use a petroleum jelly type of product that's unmedicated.
Carmex comes in these sizes: Carmex comes in 1/4 ounce (7.5g) jars, 1/2 ounce (15g) jars, .35 ounce (10g) EZ-ON applicator tubes, and a .15 ounce (4.3g) Click Stick. The Click Stick version adds the benefit of an SPF 15 sunscreen in the regular scent and SPF 30 in the Mint scent.*
Here are the frequently asked questions about Carmex:http://www.carma-labs.com/CarmaFAQs.htm.
So I have decided to stop using Carmex. It is a useful product in my opinion, if you do have cold sores or fever blisters. That is what it's intended to treat. As a lip balm it's not going to be very good as it contains ingredients specifically designed to dry out a sore! I can't believe I didn't think about why skipping it gave me dried out and very chapped lips.
The website says people use Carmex as an antiseptic for insect bites, athlete's foot, cuts and burns. Something that could stand in for hydrogen peroxide isn't a soothing lip balm, but it's got it's uses!
I am going to switch to a lip balm that does not contain ingredients for drying out cold sores. Here are the ingredients of Carmex, which comes in the traditional scent (a menthol type smell) and now also Carmex Mint which is only available in a 'click stick'.
Active Ingredients: Menthol 0.7% (Anti Itch), Camphor 1.7% (Analgesic), Phenol 0.4% (Anesthetic)
Inactive Ingredients: Fragrance in petrolatum, Lanolin, Cocoa Butter, Salicylic Acid, Mineral Oil, Wax Base
Yes, I definitely don't need anti-itch ingredients, and anesthetic stuff in a lip balm just to relieve dry lips. It's just not going to work.
I have used Carmex on and off for a long time. I am definitely switching to a product that doesn't contain these drying agents. I am waiting for philosophy 'kiss me' balm that i ordered online. That seems like a better bet. I do not think Carmex is a bad product at all. However I reccomend it for those with a cold sore, fever blister or temporary relief of chapped lips only. Definitely not as a daily lip balm because it's not really a good candidate for that, I see. I like the way it feels so cool and tingly on my mouth after I smooth on a dab from the pot. However, that nice feeling is my mouth getting dried out. Visit www.carma-labs.com for all kinds of carmex information, including answers to carmex myths.
I will include an example from the page:
MYTH: Carmex contains ground up fiberglass.
Again, all the ingredients in Carmex are listed on the container. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration would not allow anybody to put fiberglass in a product for medicinal use.
So my bottom line is that I think this product is the opposite of what you would want a regular lip balm for.. use it for cold sores and fever blisters. (unless you don't mind the side effects)
* from www.carma-labs.com
A little note: This did not give me an allergic reaction. The choices given are that, and breakout stuff (i broke out a little or a lot, and none really apply to Carmex) I may change it to no reaction.