Carmex Lip Balm

Alfred Woelbing of Milwaukee suffered, as many of us do, from cold sores. Thanks to a keen interest in chemistry he decided to solve his painful condition and devise a remedy. He began making Carmex by hand in 1937, pouring the lip balm into kitchen jars.

Alfred sold Carmex out of the boot of his car as the world of mouth grew. Pharmacies would be offered the Carmex but if they chose not to stock it he’d give them free samples and a re-order card. Having sold out of the free samples the pharmacies started to order.

Lanolin a key ingredient in Carmex became scare during the Second World War as it was needed by the military to prevent rust. However, post-War the home production of Carmex was revived, the positive word of mouth stimulated demand and as a result it necessitated moving out of the Woelbing home and into premises in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

The earliest packaging was the little tub with yellow lid with the squeezy tube and stick formats following several years later to compete with other market leaders.

In 1973, Alfred’s son Don joined Carma Laboratories Inc and initiated an assembly-line production process. Eventually outgrowing the Wauwatosa premises the company moved its production to Franklin, Wisconsin, where it remains today. By 1993, it was estimated that 9% of the lip balm market was held by Carma Labs.

Carma Laboratories remain in the family’s ownership. Sadly, Albert died aged 100 in 2001. However, the company continues to expand under the management of Don and  his sons Paul and Eric.

My Carmex: My family and I have used the deliciously flavoured Carmex for many years and I am happy to attest to the fact that it has significantly reduced the number of cold sore I have suffered and even whenI have had one several daily application of Cortex does reduce the pain and swelling.

Photos from Carmex


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I am an English trained and experienced lawyer. I have lived with my wife and family for nearly twenty years in the “California of Europe” - at the tip of Southern Europe. I am a proud European and driven to evangelize about the quality of life to be enjoyed here.

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