Promo University

History of Lip Balm

Kyrsten Ledger

Updated: July 23rd, 2020

People have always had a need to treat cracked skin and chapped lips. That’s exactly why, from the 1800s to present day, lip balm has been a top-selling beauty product around the world! We rely on this sweet-tasting cosmetic to keep our lips healthy and happy.

Whether you need it for your first kiss or that unwanted cold sore, lip balm will be there to help you out. Let’s learn about the history of Chapstick, EOS, and more!

Hour Glass

History of Lip Balm Timeline

Explore the history of lip balm in this interactive timeline. From beeswax to petroleum jelly, people have been coming up with ways to prevent your lips from getting dry and cracked for centuries!

  • 1800s

    Ear wax book clipping Source:

    A woman by the name of Lydia Maria Child wrote a book called The "American Frugal Housewife". In the book she recommended using earwax to treat cracked lips.

  • 1865-1872

    vaseline wagon Source:

    Robert Chesebrough invented, patented, and distributed his petroleum jelly called Vaseline®. Before the name Vaseline®, Chesebrough used the term "Wonder Jelly" for his invention. Of course, it didn't kick off until the name was changed.

  • 1880s

    chapstick Source:

    Charles Brown Fleet is credited for the world's first lip balm. It was essentially a candle without a wick and wrapped in tin foil. However, it didn't sell well, and Fleet never made a profit.

  • Early 1900s

    beeswax Source:

    Places all over the world, such as Japan and Sweden, started developing lip care products. These products were made from ingredients like yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit), camellia oil (tea seed oil), and beeswax.

  • 1912

    Chapstick new packaging Source:

    John Morton, a friend and colleague of Fleet, bought Fleet's formula for lip balm for $5! It was Mrs. Morton's idea though to melt the ingredients together and pour them into brass tubes to mold the balm into sticks. The new packaging was a hit and ChapStick® was born.

  • 1937

    carmex lip balm Source:

    Alfred Woelbing created Carmex® lip balm in his home to soothe his own cold sores. Before he founded Carma Laboratories, he sold his invention out of the trunk of his car.

  • 1947

    lip medex Source:

    Charles Arch founded Blistex® lip care products and advertised it as a medicated lip balm. Not only did it prevent your lips from getting dry, but it also included external analgesic, a numbing agent to relieve pain.

  • 1973

    lip smackers Source:

    Lip Smacker® introduced the world's first flavored lip balm. They marketed specifically to young girls with their slogan "all the flavor of being a girl."

  • 1975

    Dr pepper lip balm Source:

    Dr. Pepper® collaborated with Lip Smacker® and started promoting their brand on lip balm. Lip Smacker® and Dr. Pepper® have continued their partnership for over 40 years.

  • 1988

    Kiehl lip balm Source:

    Kiehl's® sponsored a Mt. Everest expedition where climbers relied on Kiehl's® products to help protect their skin and heal their chapped lips along the way. Kiehl's® Lip Balm #1 advertised that their balm helped shield lips from the drying effects of wind and cold weather.

  • 1991

    Burts beeswax lip balm Source:

    Roxanne Quimby perfected a recipe she found from an old farmer's journal and created Burt's Bees® Beeswax Lip Balm. Burt's Bees sold candles prior to lip balm, however, their new product instantly became their best seller.

  • 2000

    Abreva treatment cream Source:

    Abreva® is the first pharmaceutical over-the-counter lip treatment cream approved by the FDA. This is used for more serious lip conditions such as cold sores.

  • 2010

    Sweet leaf bath company Source:

    A company in Canada called Sweet Leaf Bath Company launched the first-ever lip balm that is packaged in a waste composable eco-tube. Their mission is to choose ingredients that will benefit your skin and Mother Nature.

  • 2011

    Eos lip balm Source:

    EOS® switched from the typical tube of lip balm to a spherical orb. This is the only brand to ever switch up its packaging from tubes or jars. People loved the shape so much that EOS® patented their design.

  • 2018

    Cannabis lipstick Source:

    As cannabis continues to become legal or used medicinally, companies are beginning to chemically add it to lip balm. Some lip balms contain low doses of THC (psychoactive chemical) to be used as a pain-relieving additive. Others contain CBD oil (non-psychoactive chemical) for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-aging properties.

What is Lip Balm?

Lip balm, also known as a salve or butter, is a wax-like substance that is applied topically to help heal dry or chapped lips and lock in moisture. Every lip balm is different, therefore the brand you use will determine the ingredients. For example, Vaseline® contains purified petroleum, whereas Burt's Bees® contains beeswax.

Here are the most common ingredients found in lip balm:

A natural wax that is produced by honeybees. Honeycombs and beehives are made from beeswax, which serves as a natural moisturizing agent.

Beeswax honeycomb

Cocoa Butter
Cocoa Butter is an edible vegetable fat extracted from the cocoa beans. It contains natural antioxidants and is used for its moisturizing properties as well as treating mouth sores.

Cocoa butter

Natural oils help add moisture or flavoring. Common oils found in lip balms are coconut oil, sunflower oil, peppermint oil, or canola oil.

Oil lip balm

Although honey and beeswax both come from bees, they are entirely different! Honey has nutritional value as well as antioxidants, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory qualities, not to mention it's delicious!


Shea Butter
Shea Butter is made from the fat that is extracted from the nut of an African shea tree. Shea butter is rich in vitamins, offers natural UV protection, and has essential fatty acids necessary to restore skin.

Shea butter

No one's lips deserve to be cracked, scabbed, or dry. Whether you use lip balm every day or on certain occasions, remember these common ingredients and how they can help your lips feel as good as new!

Fun Fact!

Bees need to consume six to eight pounds of honey and fly 150,000 miles to create just one pound of beeswax.

Balm Like the Egyptians

Many ingredients in our lip balms, such as natural oils, beeswax and honey, have been used for centuries. Some dating as far back as ancient Egypt, according to historians. Unlike today, only the elite wore cosmetics. This was their way of showing power and prestige, and they were worn by both men and women. Cleopatra, born in 69 B.C., is perhaps the most well-known Egyptian to use beauty products.

Cleopatra Source:

Beeswax, almond oil, and roses were some of the ingredients in Cleopatra's tricks to timeless beauty. She would bathe in milk and rose petals, then rub on a lotion primarily made of beeswax to keep her skin and lips looking young and smooth. Egyptians that were of lower economic status used beeswax and honey as an ointment that acted as a sort of bandage for minor injuries.

Even in death, the Egyptians would use fats and oils, similar to cocoa and shea butter and coconut oil, to preserve mummies. Archeologists have found waxy, gel-like substances slathered on mummies' hairdos. Surprisingly, the hairdos have remained fairly intact and preserved. The ancient Egyptians clearly knew what they were doing!

The Egyptians were resourceful when it came to cosmetics, healing minor injuries, and preservation. They figured out that using natural, antibacterial, and moisture-locking ingredients improved their overall lifestyle. Learning from the Egyptians, we too wanted a solution from dry skin.


In health preparations and cosmetics, beeswax is a moisturizer. It is antimicrobial and rich in vitamin A.

– Chris Dalziel, author of The Beeswax Workshop

Petroleum Balm and Jelly

Similar to the Egyptians' methods, Vaseline® was intended for all skin, not just lips. Vaseline®, which is made from petroleum, is a natural substance that is created from oil rigs, similar to the natural ingredients that were used in ancient Egypt.

Over 100 years ago, in a small town in northern Pennsylvania, petroleum was discovered. Robert Chesebrough, a young British chemist, had been making kerosene from the oil retrieved from sperm whales' blubber when he stumbled upon this small town and their petroleum. Around the turn of the 20th century, after petroleum became accessible, industries stopped using whale oil to make kerosene. Although Chesebrough made kerosene, he was curious to find out what else petroleum could do or make.

Once Chesebrough arrived in Pennsylvania he realized the oilmen, people who operate oil wells, were smearing their skin with the drill residue to help heal their cuts and burns. Not wanting to use the wax straight from the oil rigs (also known as 'rod wax'), Chesebrough started his purification process. Now Vaseline® is safe to use for chapped lips, dry skin, and diaper rash.

purity Source:

Purifying Petroleum Jelly
Every Vaseline® purchase should include a triple-purification seal. This is to ensure that every jar of Vaseline® is purified through their three-step process before it hits the shelf at your local convenience store. The original Vaseline® is fragrance-free, non-irritating, and hypoallergenic! This means that it's safe even for those with sensitive skin. It took Chesebrough five years to perfect his purification process. In fact, it's such an intricate process that he patented it!

Originally called "Wonder Jelly," Chesebrough changed the name to Vaseline®, which is derived from the German word wasser (water) and the Greek work oleon (oil). Two years after coming out, Vaseline® was being sold throughout the United States at the rate of a jar a minute! It didn't take long for Vaseline® to make its way to other countries. By the early 1900s it was in Europe, Canada, and Africa. Not to mention, Vaseline® helped heal minor injuries inflicted from freezing temperatures and battle wounds in major event through history, such as the North Pole Expedition, WWI, and WWII. Eventually other companies started coming out with products specifically targeting chapped lips.

Did you know?

Chesebrough traveled across New York burning his skin and spreading his invention on his injuries to show that it really worked. Talk about dedication! (Do not try this at home).

The History of Chapstick®

Aside from Vaseline®, Chapstick® was the first lip balm to make its debut back in the late 1800s! Many people use the terms lip balm and Chapstick® synonymously, but they're not exactly the same thing. All Chapstick® is lip balm, but not all lip balm is Chapstick®. Simply put, Chapstick® is a brand of lip balm! Just like Burt's Bees®, EOS®, or Carmex®.

Morton lip balm Source:

Chapstick® was invented by physician and pharmacist Dr. Charles Browne Fleet to specifically target chapped lips. Trying to help his patients, Fleet attempted to sell his invention, but it was never successful. Fleet eventually gave up trying to sell his invention that looked like a candle without a wick and he went back to doing what he did best: medicine and pharmaceuticals.

After confiding in one of his former colleagues, John Morton, about his failed invention, Fleet sold his rights to the product for only five dollars. It was Morton's wife who had the idea of melting down the wax and using brass tubes to mold it into sticks. The new product was a hit and Chapstick® was born. Shortly after, a commercial artist by the name of Frank B. Wright Jr. created the logo for Morton's lip balm for $15! This iconic logo has been around since 1936.

This multi-million-dollar company has been selling Chapstick® for over 100 years. Not to mention Chapstick® consumer demographics are practically even across the board! That means people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, economic status, educational stature, and locations throughout the United States use Chapstick® equally. With so much versatility, no wonder people use both phrases interchangeably.

Fun Fact!

Tubes of Chapstick® were used to conceal microphones during the Watergate scandal.

Evolution of Smooth®

Chapstick® set the stage for other lip balm companies by creating a convenient tube for their product. If you were to walk down an aisle full of lip balm, you would see a bunch of different branded tubes. EOS® was one of these brands and also sold sticks of lip balm. However, after a couple years, this small NYC company wanted to find a way to stand out in the lip balm aisle.

Taylor swift

Even though many companies sold tubes of lip balm, some companies, like Blistex® and Carmex®, still sold "pots" of lip balm. EOS® designers had the idea to combine the two. They wanted a pot-like structure that was hands-free like the tubes.

In the end, they decided that their product should engage all five senses when you use it. The spherical orbs fit perfectly in people's hands and gave fingers comfortable grips when opening the container. The company also chose bright or pastel colors, which appealed to people's eyes. EOS® targeted your sense of smell by the strong aromas that are released as soon as you open the container and they got your taste buds dancing with their delicious flavors. Once you're all finished you'd know the lip balm was sealed tight as soon as you heard the click.

With the help of celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, and Hilary Duff, it didn't take long for EOS® to quickly climb the charts. After being granted a patent for their design in 2013, it looks like EOS® will continue to stand out in a sea of tubed lip balm.

Promotional Lip Balms

Once new containers and flavored lip balms became available, many companies jumped aboard and began marketing their brands and flavors. One of the first to do this was Dr. Pepper® by joining efforts with Lip Smacker®. With flavors like Crush Orange, 7up, A&W Root Beer, and Dr.Pepper®, you could now take your favorite sodas on the go without the mess! Eventually other flavor companies like Coca-Cola®, Skittles®, and Starburst® followed suit and began to market their brand through flavored lip balm with Lip Smacker®.

Dr pepper chapstick

While some companies chose co-branding to promote their flavors, other companies like Yankee Candle and Ben & Jerry's offered lip balms for a limited time. Back in 2009, Yankee Candle turned their popular candle scents into delicious flavored balms in the shape of mini candle jars. Ben & Jerry's used the same concept in 2017 when they released their lip balm. Only coming out with four flavors, they marketed their balm in mini ice cream containers. Although both companies eventually discontinued their products, the unique containers, as well as the flavors, further promoted their brand name because they served as a reminder for people to remember to go stock up on their favorite candles or tubs of ice cream.

Yankee candle

Unlike Yankee Candle and Ben & Jerry's many companies achieve great success promoting their brand through lip balm and continue to do so for longer periods of time! Afterall, Dr. Pepper® has been promoting their brand for over 40 years! Other companies like Disney® and Marvel® have also teamed up with Lip Smacker® creating containers shaped like everyone's favorite characters. Other companies like Victoria's Secret®, dentists offices, coffee shops, recreational shops, and many more can promote their business with promotional lip balms! With different weather climates, UV rays and the need to keep our lips healthy 365 days a year the need for lip balm will never run dry.

Check out other companies that have used tasty lip balm to promote their brand.

Ben and jerrys

Tasty Enough to Eat

Since we use our lips to eat and drink, and lip balm is applied directly to our lips, it's a no brainer that our lip balm should be safe if ingested. Long story short, lip balm is safe enough to use on your lips, but it is not edible. This means a little bit of lip balm here and there in your system isn't going to harm you in any way, however you definitely shouldn't be eating it for a snack. There are always exceptions to the rule though. While we don't recommend including lip balm in your daily diet, some lip balms are safe enough to "eat." Many organic balms have edible ingredients such as cocoa butter, beeswax, as well as various oils like coconut and avocado. Lip balms that contain parabens, petrolatum, BHA (common in acne washes to clean pores), or synthetic fragrances are toxic to your digestive system and should not be ingested.

Moogoo Source:

A company based out of Australia called MooGoo had the idea to make "as edible as possible" products, although they don't recommend eating them either. The founder of MooGoo, Craig Jones, noticed that his mom was using a white paste, intended for the cows to help manage a skin problem. Jones knew his mom didn't like using the cream because it was thick and difficult to apply. Using all natural and edible ingredients, Jones created a lighter and non-greasy cream to help out his mom. With zero intention of starting a skin care company, the product was too good not to share with the rest of the world! They've gone on to make many skin care products, including lip balm!

While some companies are devoted to making lip balms as edible as possible, they are meant to heal dry and chapped lips, not be an appetizer at your next get-together. However, if you have little ones or animals that get into your stuff and start chomping down (not speaking from experience or anything), then it's helpful to know what lip balms are safe when digested and which ones aren't.

How Else Can You Use Lip Balm?

Some lip balms are edible, and others come with tricks up their sleeves! Contrary to its name, lip balm can be used for other parts of your body, not just chapped lips. This can save you time and money, especially since lip balm is so affordable! When using these lip balm hacks, we recommend using a different lip balm than the one you use for your lips since some of these suggestions involve hair, make-up, or blood. We wouldn't want you accidentally mixing the two!

Here are 10 new ways you can use your lip balm:

1. Soothe dry skin: Lip balm can soothe more than just the dry skin on your lips. If you're out of lotion, or it's just not doing the trick, try lip balm for your cracked knuckles or dry skin.

2. Protect your skin from hair dye: Whether you color your own hair at home or go to a salon, next time add lip balm along your hairline. This should prevent the hair dye from also coloring your skin.

3. Soothe nose irritation: Cold and flu season as well as allergy season really blows…your nose specifically. Help ease the irritation around your nose and prevent further dryness by adding lip balm.

4. Tame flyaways: Those baby hairs that never seem to grow can get annoying and hairspray can really weigh your hair down or make it sticky. The next time you have flyaways, tame them with lip balm.

5. Stop a cut from shaving: Ever nicked yourself shaving? Been there, done that! Instead of reaching for the toilet paper, try lip balm to stop minor cuts and start the healing process.

6. Shine up your eyeshadow: Are you tired of applying eyeshadow and it disappearing by lunchtime? The next time you wear eyeshadow, rub lip balm across your eyelids as a base to make your eyeshadows last longer.

7. Make a candle: Keep Q-tips® and lip balm in a first aid kit or your travel bag the next time you hit the road. If you ever need a light source in a pinch, you can create a makeshift candle by creating a wick with a Q-tip® inside a tube of lip balm.

8. Highlight your cheekbones: If you ever want your cheekbones to stand out and shimmer, try adding a little lip balm. This acts as a natural highlighter and can save you money.

9. Groom your eyebrows: Just like flyaways in your hair, sometimes eyebrows don't want to cooperate. Instead of plucking out that strand that won't lay flat, try clear lip balm to weigh it down.

10. Repair cuticles: Can't afford to go to the nail salon every month, but still want flawless cuticles? Instead of buying cuticle oil, add moisture by applying lip balm to your nail beds.

10 Genius Ways to Use Lip Balm graphic
10 Genius Ways to Use Lip Balm graphic
Did you know?

Lips are one of the most sensitive organs in the human body! Yet, they do not have any kind of defensive membrane for protection. Queue the lip balm!

Why Do We Need Lip Balm?

Aside from lip balm having many uses, it's also beneficial to our health because it protects the skin on our lips. Our bodies are covered in skin, however, the skin on our body is different from the kind that's on our lips. That's because our bodies have a lot more layers of skin (about 15 to 16) for increased protection, whereas our lips are only made up of about three or four layers of skin. This is what gives your lips a natural reddish/pink tint and why they turn blue when you're cold!

Here are the main reasons why everyone needs lip balm!

Your lips naturally get thinner as you age due to a loss of collagen, which is a protein that makes your skin stretch. The less layers of skin you have, the more protection you lose! By wearing lip balm, you're shielding your lips and adding another layer of defense. Some lip balms also have anti-aging ingredients to keep your lips looking young and full.


Unfortunately, the location of your lips on your body actually contributes to them becoming chapped more frequently. This is because your lips are right next to your tongue. If your lips are dry and you don't have lip balm on you, your first instinct is to lick your lips. Don't do it! This is actually worse because as your saliva dries, your skin winds up losing more moisture.


Just like your body needs sunscreen for protection from the sun, so do your lips! Your skin is made up of three main layers: the hypodermis (layer of fat and muscle), the dermis (middle layer that contains sweat glands), and the epidermis (the outermost layer that provides a waterproof barrier). These main layers are made up of smaller sublayers. Within the epidermis layer is a sublayer called the stratum corneum. This outermost layer of the epidermis prevents natural moisture from escaping, keeps the skin hydrated, and protects against the sun. Your lips are missing this layer; therefore, they are more likely to lose their moisture and require additional protection from harmful UV rays than the rest of the skin on your body. The good news is that many lip balm companies offer products that include SPF protection and as long as you're using at least a SPF of 15 your lips will thank you!

The good news is that many lip balm companies offer products that include SPF protection! As a rule of thumb, when using lip balm as a sunscreen make sure it has at least a SPF of 15. The next time you're buying your favorite lip balm, check to see if they offer one with SPF protection. Your lips will thank you even more!


As you can see, everyone gets chapped or dry lips! Whether you live in a tropical climate or a frozen tundra, chances are you will need lip balm. Warm and cold climates equally suck up moisture, and since our lips don't sweat and have less layers of skin, more protection is needed. Just like a coat and hat in the winter keeps you warm, lip balm protects your lips all year round!

Fun Fact!

No two people have the same lip impressions. Just like fingerprints, everyone's lips are unique!

Stats for Success

Stats 1 icon

Americans spend over 200 million dollars every year on lip balm.

Stats 2 icon

More than 86,400 tubes of lip balm are purchased in a 24-hour period.

Stats 3 icon

65.9% of people use lip balm daily.

Stats 4 icon

30-40% of the world's trade in beeswax is used in cosmetics and personal care.

The Bottom Line

Lip balm is for everybody. Whether you use it everyday or you carry it around in case of an emergency, it's important to take care your lips! Looking for something new to spread the word about your brand? Try promotional lip balms!

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten's vast knowledge of promotional giveaways and marketing has led to several hit articles. She has also published work for PPB Magazine, a publication from the Promotional Products Association International.


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