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Does Carmex Expire?

by Gabbi

We have all experienced dry, chapped lips at one point or another, and finding the correct lip balm is like a saving grace to your lips. Out of all the lip balms on the market, Carmex is one of the most popular and notable balms for healing and soothing the most dehydrated of lips.

Due to its popularity over the last several decades, the brand has expanded to include different formulas, packaging, and ingredients to meet the needs of any consumer.

However, lip balms are a skincare product and with that comes the importance of being aware and knowledgeable about certain ingredients they contain, what their shelf life is, and how soon after opening do they expire.

While keeping in mind to toss a mascara or a face moisturizer might be obvious in our daily routine, lip balm is a product whose expiration date can be overlooked.

So, does Carmex expire? As with any skincare or beauty products, yes, Carmex and other lip balms do expire. The timeframe in which they expire varies depending on the product and formula, based on the ingredients the brands include. How each brand indicates when their lip balms will expire is different, but Carmex includes the expiration date right on the packaging for easy identification.

Read on to discover more about the expiration date on Carmex lip balms, how to tell if it’s expired, and whether you can use it past its expiration date.

Carmex And Why It’s So Popular

Carmex was developed in 1937 and has been around as one of the staple lip balms on the market ever since. The product was created as a medicated balm that would soothe, restore, and hydrate dry, cracked, and chapped lips.

Carmex is formulated with many emollient-rich ingredients that deliver immediate and intense moisture to the lips, while also forming a protective barrier to lock the moisture in.

The balm is also formulated with camphor and menthol, two ingredients that are meant to soothe and cool the lips. Camphor works to calm and soothe any irritation that can be caused by dry and chapped lips, and also contains a similar cooling sensation to methol.

The menthol is used to refresh and restore the lips by delivering a cool and minty feeling. Depending on the sensitivity of your lips, you might feel a slight tingling sensation when applying Carmex, due to the invigorating minty feel.

Although Carmex does create a tingling sensation when applied on the lips, it does not plump the lips as a tingling lip plumper would.

Carmex is also most notable for its ability to help calm and soothe cold sores that can be a source of irritation on the lips. The original formula was created as a medicated balm, and is still used for that purpose to this day.

As with most lip balm brands, Carmex has expanded to include a specific cold sore treatment, lip balms including sun protection, and a jar and squeeze tube option for its original balm formula, among many other extensions.

For more information, check out our article: Is Carmex Good For Your Lips?

Does Carmex Have An Expiration Date?

It can be hard to know when certain beauty and skincare products expire, especially if there is no clearly marked date as to when to use it by. There are general rules about how long liquid and cream products last versus powder products, but those can be hard to remember.

Thankfully, most beauty and skincare brands include a way to tell what the expiration date of a product is on their packaging by placing a “Period After Opening” icon to indicate how long a product is good for.

The Period After Opening, or PAO, icon is a symbol of a little jar with an open lid with the amount of months a product is set to last inside.

The icon will typically say “6M” for six months, “12M” for 12 months, and so on, although 6M and 12M are the most common dates. This essentially indicates that once the product is opened, it will be good for the following 6 or 12 months before it expires.

Depending on the brand and product, the PAO might be listed on the outer packaging, so it is important to note the expiration date before discarding. 

Carmex has taken it one step further for easy identification and has taken to marking the expiration on the tube of the balm. By having it placed directly on the packaging, you are sure to be reminded when it comes time to toss the balm.

Based on each batch when it was packaged, the expiration dates will vary from tube to tube. Generally, most lip products will last about 1 year before they need to be tossed. 

If you prefer the Carmex balm in the jar, keep in mind that dipping your fingers into the jar often can also increase the likeliness of bacteria forming in the product sooner than with the squeeze tube.

It is especially important to keep the expiration date of the jar packaging in mind, as to avoid any potential negative reaction once its past the PAO date.

Can You Use Carmex Past the Expiration Date?

As with any product, once it is passed the expiration date it is more likely to contain bacteria or fungus. Especially a lip product that is in constant contact with your mouth, it is important to be careful of not transporting any unwanted bacteria from your skincare or lip products.

Although Carmex, along with other lip balms, contain preservatives to help extend the lifetime of the product for as long as possible, once it expires it is best to leave the remaining product and open a fresh tube.

Based on the ingredients used in the formula, it will also have an effect on the shelf life of a lip balm. Most notably, if a lip balm contains an SPF, as Carmex has a range with sun protection, those balms should be replaced after a year.

How To Tell If Lip Balm Is Expired

The most obvious and easy way to tell if you lip balm has expired is if it begins to start looking or smelling funny or off. Fragrances can tend to change once they’ve expired, or once a product has gone past its PAO date, it can begin to smell or look odd.

Depending on the formula, and how far past the expiration date it is, you might also start seeing mold spots, which should be immediately discarded.

There might also be a change in consistency once your lip balm has expired. It may become harder to spread, too slippery, thick, or any other different texture than what it originally was. If that is the case, it is also best to discontinue use and grab a fresh balm.

Storing Carmex

If you are looking to extend the shelf life of your lip balms, there are a few tricks you can use.

The simplest is to keep the product in a cool and dry place, rather than exposing it to heat or moisture as that is the environment in which bacteria thrives. Especially if your lip balm contains SPF, storing in a cool and dry place is a must.

Looking for lip balms with no or little fragrance might also preserve your lip balm shelf life, as fragrance can tend to break down the ingredients quicker, even with preservatives in place.

Lastly, it does not hurt to sanitize your lip balms (or any of your lip products for that matter) every so often. Spraying the lip balm with some isopropyl alcohol and wiping away the top layer will help remove any bacteria that may be present on the balm.

While these quick fixes might help preserve your lip balm a little longer, it is still smart to heed the expiration date to avoid any possible irritation, infection, or reaction from using an expired product.


While lip balms are a crucial part of keeping your lip healthy and hydrated, Carmex is a top choice to soothe, treat, and moisturize dehydrated lips. The emollient-rich formula works overtime to not only provide moisture, but trap and lock in hydration to provide the ultimate comfort for chapped lips.

If you struggle with battling cold sores and have not found the right remedy, Carmex is a medicated balm that will soothe and calm the irritation.

However, as functional and necessary as Carmex and other lip balms are, it is important to remember they are also part of the skincare category, and have an expiration date that should be abided by to avoid a negative reaction.

Especially when lip balms also contain SPF, you want to make sure you are following when to open a new balm, to ensure your lips can be properly protected from the sun.

Most skincare and beauty items make it easy for you to see when a product should be discarded after opening, by incorporating a PAO symbol with the proper number of months the ingredients will be preserved for.

Keeping in mind the PAO date, or for Carmex the expiration date that is stamped right on the tube, will help you keep track of when it is time to toss the old lip balm and open up another.

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