An antiseptic and healing lip balm, originally a stovetop product sold from the back of a truck in the 1930s, it now has around 10% of the market share.

The key ingredient seems to be the Salicylic Acid. This is the same active ingredient that is found in wart remover and other OTC remedies.

It speeds the healing of damaged lips (chapped, cold sore, etc.) by causing the old damaged skin to slough off faster than it normally would. This seems to make your body respond by building new (healthy) skin that comes up underneath the damaged skin.

It's marketed for cold sore relief, not for daily prevention of chapped lips. Also, I don't use it as a preventative so I can't comment on alleged addictive properties.

In addition to the SA, the slight butterscotch flavor, and camphor tingle are nice too.

In over 20 years of use only once have I succesfully used up a whole tub of the stuff before losing it.

Carmex is the black tar heroin of lip balm.

Sold in small white 'jars' with yellow caps, Carmex advertizes itself as "For-Cold-Sores" on the cap. However, its quite pleasant smell and texture imply that using it more often can't be bad... not really. But once you start using Carmex, it is often difficult to stop.

The active ingredients on the label are Menthol, 0.7%, Camphor, 1.7%, and Phenol, 0.4%, but Salicylic Acid is also listed under 'inactive ingredients.' Salicylic acid is found in willow bark and is a close relative of acetylsalicylic acid, or Aspirin. Menthol is often used in pain rubs, such as Tiger Balm or Icy Hot.

Carmex's instructions are quite simple: "Use Carmex for COLD SORES, FEVER BLISTERS, and CHAPPED LIPS. Apply freely to affected parts." At $1.29 for a quarter of an ounce, a jar of Carmex should last a long time.

A personal testimony: upon finding myself with chapped lips that were starting to split, I bought a jar of Carmex and applied a thin coating for a day. Two days later, my lips were completely healed.

Do not get in the habit of overusing Carmex. Carmex can be an addictive substance if overused, like any other medicine that makes us feel better.

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