I did a scary thing today – I looked at the ingredients in my lip balm. I say scary because I’m not sure it’s something I ever truly wanted to know. I’ve been using Carmex® for years, especially in the winter when my lips get extremely dry (it’s also great as a cuticle moisturizer). But I’m also loyal to Burt’s Bees®, because it’s all-natural. So how unnatural is Carmex®?
First things first – the ingredients:
Carmex® vs. Burt’s Bees®
Camphor Coconut oil
Phenol Sunflower seed oil
Fragrance in Petrolatum Peppermint oil
Salicylic Acid Tocopherol
Cocoa Butter Rosemary leaf extract
Wax Base Soybean oil
A few things bothered me when I read these two lists. First, is that Carmex® contains a drying agent – Salicylic Acid, the same active ingredient in zit medication. Why would a lip balm, which is supposed to moisturize, need a drying agent? Second “fragrance in petrolatum,” which is their fancy way of saying Petroleum Jelly. Again, Petroleum Jelly initially holds moisture in for your lips, but it also doesn’t allow your lips to absorb any moisture, leaving them as dry as they began.
But the ingredient that really got to me was Phenol, which is not only an anesthetic (which I need on my lips to what? Why would I want to numb my lips?) but is also an alternative to formaldehyde for embalming, and in large injections can be used to kill a person! And while I suppose being able to embalm someone on the spot may come in handy some day, the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetic safety database rated it a 9/10 (High Hazard) on its ingredient safety scale. This rating applies to the ingredient itself, not the product containing it, but still. Phenol is one of Carmex’s® three active ingredients (at .4%) and it’s considered that dangerous? When I read that I threw out my Carmex® forever.
Ultimately, everyone makes the decision about what to put in and on their body. People having been using Carmex® for years and still live to tell the tale. But when I have the option of putting something on my lips, which is eventually digested through my body, why would I choose a product with such dangerous ingredients? Carmex® recently announced that they’re changing their packaging to eliminate 20% of the plastic from the traditional jar. That’s great. But changes to Carmex® really need to start with the ingredients.
Long live Burt’s Bees®!