Carmex: It's Not Just For Cars Anymore And, In Fact, Never Was

Why have I waited so long to try such a classic, storied, utterly epic lip balm?
Publish date:
March 28, 2014
cult favorites, lip balms, lanolin, classics, Carmex, menthol

I'm like a chef who's never tasted ginger; a personal trainer who's never tried the Thigh Master; a pilot who's never seen Top Gun. I'm a beauty editor who's never tried Carmex. (I've also never seen Top Gun.)

Clearly, I've had plenty of opportunities to try this ubiquitous lip balm. Carmex has been around since 1937, making it four years older than my dear old dad; cute little jars of it have been readily and inexpensively available at drugstores and gas stations and bodegas and grandparents' kitchen drawers for decades. When I was a kid, they introduced a squeezy-tube version, and as I entered adulthood, Carmex became available in cherry and strawberry flavors.

And yet, I stand before you (or, rather, my words binary-code before you), trying it for the first time.

I know this excuse is about as lame as it gets, but when I was little, I think I assumed Carmex was a product for cars. It didn't help that the no-frills yellow-and-red packaging made it look like something that would be sold at the check-out counter at Autozone. I mean, it probably is--this lip balm is sold everywhere!

That's a pathetic defense, I know, and Anne-Marie has pulled no punches in telling me so. "It's can't-fail," she says.

Here's why: soothing active ingredients, camphor and menthol, in a base of petrolatum (knock it all you want, but it holds in moisture), lanolin (super-protective), cocoa butter, and beeswax. There's even a touch of healing salicylic acid in the non-flavored formulas, and it's available with UV filters, too.

It's classic and it does what it says, which is why even though it's as old as Jack Nicholson, it's one of my new favorites.

What's your favorite inexpensive lip balm? Are there any old-school products you haven't gotten around to trying? Did you think Carmex had something to do with Mexican cars, too?