Two of the most popular and long-lasting lip care brands in the world are Carmex and Chapstick. They are so popular, in fact, that it’s nigh-on impossible for anyone who has used lip balm before to have not at least heard of them.
Whether it’s been in your purse or a friend’s pocket, or maybe even in your mom’s car, you’ve used a rogue lip balm before, and we'd wager it was probably one of these two brands.
But which one is better? They’ve both stood the test of time and have satisfied customers for years on end. We’re going to compare two of their classics, the Carmex Classic Lip Balm and the Chapstick Classic Original Lip Balm and decide once and for all which brand is superior.
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Carmex vs Chapstick Lip Balm
A good lip balm will relieve the dryness while giving your lips a soft and glossy look. In contrast, a bad one won’t relieve your symptoms and will make your lips look greasy. That’s why finding the right lip balm is essential to your year-round comfort.
It's not uncommon for similar skincare products to share a very similar ingredients list, but Carmex and Chapstick actually differ a fair bit in theirs. Sure, they both contain analgesics (painkillers), protectants, and moisturizing agents - as you would expect from a pair of quality lip balms - but Carmex goes above and beyond by including sun protection, Salicylic Acid (to slough away dead skin cells), and ultra-nourishing natural oils.
Neither product contains entirely 'natural' ingredients. Don't be too alarmed by this, though; keep in mind that Carmex is advertised as a medicated lip balm, and as we know, nearly all medications contain laboratory-born ingredients. Chapstick isn't advertised as 'medicated', but it does contain synthetic pigments. While we appreciate this may be a turn-off for some, they are still safe to use.
Using ingredients as a deciding factor, we prefer the Carmex Classic Lip Balm solely due to the inclusion of sun protection, but if you're seeking a more run-of-the-mill lip balm, do not hesitate to give the Chapstick Classic Original Lip Balm a shot.
Application and Packaging
Though their ingredients lists might boast some similarities, their packaging certainly doesn't. Carmex employs its signature yellow and red color scheme, whereas the Chapstick Classic Original Lip Balm is unapologetically plain.
When it comes to their application, they're the exact same, in that both are available in sticks (Carmex does also offer tube and tub alternatives). The only thing that might make you prefer one over the other in terms of application is if one of the sticks more naturally contours to your lip, and you like the feel of it - the only way to find that out for yourself, though, is to give them both a go!
The winner here - rather arbitrarily, we might add - is for the packaging, and that goes to the Carmex Classic Lip Balm. It's an awful lot easier to spot a bright yellow stick in the depths of your handbag than a plain black one!
Usage and Target Issues
Both of these lip balms are safe to use as often as you like. While we wouldn’t suggest rubbing them around your lips all day long, you certainly could.
Carmex is medicated to help protect your lips from the elements, including cold weather. Carmex reminds you to reapply it every two hours, especially if you are in the sun. And you should also put it on 15 minutes prior to sun exposure if you are going to use it as a sunscreen for your lips. Even if you’re just staying indoors it’s important to apply SPF because we still are exposed to some of the reflected UV light from the sun, and we believe that creed extends to lip care as well.
Chapstick is not used for sun protection. It’s primarily intended to keep your lips soft and supple, and aid in nourishment during the winter.
Sun protection is definitely a big differentiating factor (in Carmex's favour), because otherwise they have *very* similar properties. One reason you might actually prefer the Chapstick Classic Original Lip Balm over Carmex's is because Carmex sometimes gives your lips a tingly feeling after application (because it is medicated and contains an exfoliant). Although some people are fans of this sensation, we can see why it would be a turn-off for others.
It’s almost comical to compare the price of these two products, because both are incredibly affordable. The Chapstick is a little bit cheaper, but not by much. If you are a long time fan of Carmex, its price is certainly not going to deter you from purchasing it.
One nice thing about Carmex and Chapstick is that they offer their products in bundles, making them even more affordable. Bundles are wonderful because lip balm is a product that, for some reason, is easily lost. Although they tend to be cheap to buy, it's always nice to have a few backups on standby just in case one is inevitably lost to the void (where on earth do they go, by the way?).
Now that we have compared all of the major aspects of these two lip balms, let’s choose our winner. The Chapstick Classic Original Lip Balm is a little cheaper and is definitely more your 'typical' lip balm, but Carmex targets more concerns (arguably more effectively).
Although they are remarkably similar, if forced to choose between the two, we choose the Carmex Classic Lip Balm. It works well, it’s cheap, and it has proven to be effective for years.
This article was originally published on November 5th 2022, but it has been reviewed and updated with the latest available information on February 19th 2024 by Sara Mckay, MA.
Calum Torrington is the founder of FemmeNordic. He has worked as a beauty editor since 2020 and employs his analytical background in mathematics to thoroughly scrutinize complex INCI lists. Now, he helps over 1 million people per year to find the best beauty products.