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Bag Balm: what does it do for skin?

Lydia’s lost… Ok, I know that I spend way too much time shopping online when I have this fact stuck in my head: Bag Balm is the #3 best selling beauty product on Amazon.com. What’s up with that?!? What’s in this stuff, what does it do, and do I need to buy some?

The Left Brain’s leading reply:

Bag Balm reminds me of “Mane ‘n Tail:” They are both products designed for animals that humans have adopted for their own use. That’s right, Bag Balm is actually a product intended to treat skin condition of animals.

Bombastic about Bag Balm

According to the website for Dairy Association Company, Inc, the company that makes Bag Balm, it’s been used since 1899 to keep cows from becoming chapped. I assume this means it’s used to moisturize and protect the sensitive skin of the udders. For more background on the history of Bag Balm read this USA Today article. Just for the record, the website makes no mention of use on humans, which is not surprising since the product contains a drug active that is not approved for over the counter use on people.

Bag Balm ingredients

Since this isn’t a typical cosmetic product it doesn’t have to follow the labeling rules for cosmetics and therefore the package doesn’t have to carry a complete list of ingredients. But according to Drugstore.com I see that it contains 8-Hydroxyquinoline Sulfate at 0.3% in a petrolatum and lanolin base. Petrolatum and lanolin are both common skin care ingredients and are also used in heavy duty ointments and wound care products. The real star of the show is the 8-Hydroxyquinoline Sulfate. According to several sources such as this one, this compound is a bacteriostatic and fungistatic agent and it’s used to prepare antiseptics, deodorants, antiperspirants, and fungicides. (Personally, I’ve never seen this used in any products for humans.)

The Beauty Brains bottom line

I see Bag Balm as a product that combines excellent moisturizing ingredients with a drug active that has antiseptic properties. However, since the active agent is not approved for use on people, the company can not legally make claims in this regard. You may see benefits from using it but legally the company can only promote it for use on animals.

What do YOU think? Have you ever used Bag Balm or Mane ‘n Tail? Leave a comment and share your animalistic thoughts with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • CJ February 8, 2014, 5:55 pm

    My friend gave me some bag balm for my dry hands. While I did not like the greasiness on my hands, the jar sat on my end table for some time. I was just about to buy some Vaseline to moisturize under my eyes where my wrinkles were prominent when I thought I’d put a little bag balm under them since it was similar texture. The next day the appearance of my wrinkles were significantly reduced. It even reduced the wrinkles between my eyebrows!! I’m convinced.

  • Nj April 30, 2014, 10:32 pm

    I have severe nail brittle issues due to allergies with certain chemicals. I am an artist and refound Bag Balm that I used to use on my feet to soften them;have not had any issues that doctor prescribed creams have caused me. I love this stuff. Works awesome overnight if you use cotton gloves or socks.

  • KC February 15, 2015, 12:31 pm

    A pediatric nurse suggested I use it on my twins’ diaper rash 20 years ago. It worked like nothing else. I have since taken to using it on minor cuts and rashes.

  • Wanda May 21, 2015, 8:40 am

    After washing my face and moisturizing it, I dab bag balm around my eyes, between my eye brows and on my lips every night. (also on my feet). I get compliments for looking great at my age. I believe it works to keep moisture in my skin during the night.

  • Irma June 17, 2015, 8:48 am

    I just bought it at walgreens…I heard it was good fot flatting stomach and loose skin….Is there any truth to this?

    • Randy Schueller June 17, 2015, 10:09 am

      There’s no evidence and no scientific rationale that I can think of that says this product will flatten your stomach or tighten loose skin.

  • Grace January 24, 2016, 10:16 pm

    I have been using bag balm for 4 years now for my tattoos. It cuts my healing time in half. And it cuts out almost the entire itchy stage. I’ve also used on diaper rashes for my niece and nephews and on dry feet and hands. Even helps with fever blisters. I’m a firm believer in this great product.

    • Claire Wemyss January 14, 2020, 12:24 am

      SAME! It keeps them moist and healthy and stops the itch.

  • Elle Pollo February 11, 2016, 3:15 pm

    My dad kept a tin of bag balm in our home growing up. I still use it to this day. We used it for chapped lips and dry feet. I recently got seborrheic dermatitis under my nose. Bag balm seems to be treating it. I found out it is an antifungal as well as all its other benefits.

  • Julie Silvey May 28, 2016, 2:15 pm

    Yes. On my horse and myself. For horses I use Bag Balm on minor wounds and Mane & Tail as a Mane &Tail Detangler. Have used for years. Going to try it on my finger nail cuticles due to infection from hang nails. I have low immunity due to acute ferritin anemia. Hope it works!

  • Anna Phillips July 19, 2016, 6:23 pm

    Somehow I obtain a very bad yeast / fungal infection on my privates and under my breast. Bag Balm is the only thing that has ever given me releif. The Doctor couldn’t seem to do anything for me. I have used a half a can so far. I do not know if it will cure it but I am not itching till I bleed. Itching is still there but lessened greatly.

  • heather carlson August 11, 2016, 2:51 am

    Thats the first thing they mention on there site is HUMANS and yes its safe for us too

  • Leon C Grant January 6, 2017, 10:15 am

    Been using Bag Balm on my body since 1949 ! Put it on hands to put on cows udders, felt good so kept using it on skin till today ! Great for burns, rashes, cuts mosquito bites and lots of any skin contusions and abrasions! Works very well on sun burns and cracked skin . Chapped lips too.

  • Linda Paintin January 23, 2017, 2:28 pm


  • Tabbie November 29, 2017, 1:15 pm

    Hello I was just recently diagnosed with Rosacea that has pretty much attacked my face and has literally rendered me A- Stay- Put-Prisoner indoors within 4 walls!! I’m completely mortified by how terribly bad this,…itchy, flakey, blistery, red pimple like crusty oozing bumps have quickly spread havoc all over my face! I was prescribed an antibiotic cream called MetroNidazole. I followed directions used it once and it was worse the next day. Now I know it will take longer than a day to notice any results but the cream does not help the misery with how dry, flaky and cracked my face is, plus this cream can make it even more dried out. Also It can’t be used on the eye lid or around the eye which it would cause it to burn & make your eye water profusely. Well with my case I have those blustery rash spots directly under my eye, like literally under my already thinning eye lashes! So how am I supposed to use this cream to its fullest curing properties if I can’t apply it where most of the blustery rash spots are? Here’s my next Q, Instead of using the prescribed cream which I could possibly use tube all up in 3 weeks (Estimated amount of time to clear up Rosacea) and my face could still not be satisfactory. So I’m thinking I should follow the regimen online that shows guidelines on how to use to clear up Rosacea on face. Also as follows a diet & times to apply bagbalm to get the fullest affects. Plus with the foods I eat or ate, I can keep track of what kinds of food I was eating when the rash started to appear, cuz there maybe a chance I have another food allergy. Ok so I have a little can of BagBalm but how do you know how to identify if you shouldn’t use on face,… Due to (expiration which doesn’t show one, its been exposed to hot and cold heat and then you look inside and there’s 2 different colored BagBalms like dark same color, light same color?)

  • Lauren Danielle Jarzeboski April 24, 2018, 8:46 pm

    My daughter has had the WORST diaper rash with an open sore for over a Month! I tried otc, homemade remedies and prescribed creams and ointments. I even had her in the ER. She’s battling constipation on top of it last week a friend mentioned bag balm. I went and bought it at rite aid.. I was willing to try anything!! This was on a Friday night by Sunday morning her bottom was drastically better by Monday rash was just pale pink. She is still dealing w/constipation and I have a GI Dr appointment in a few weeks her rash is trying to come back but I truly believe the bag balm is doing the best at keeping it under control. I tell everyone who will listen about this stuff.

  • Emily May 3, 2018, 12:35 am

    I have keratosis pilaris and have had severe skin issues since a baby. When I was younger, my skin would peel if it didn’t like anything but now I break out in a terribly sensitive rash that looks like chicken pox. I’ve tried all the expensive Eczema creams and all the diets but nothing has really changed and my self esteem was pretty low. When I received bag balm as a little gift, I thought it was cool but was skeptical. Even in the cold New England winter my skin looked amazing. The minute a rash flares up, I can trust bag balm to save the day.

    Also, you can go to their website that says its absolutely safe for humans

  • Kristen December 12, 2018, 6:41 pm

    I have known about bagbalm for years, but recently thought about trying it on my face for all the acne I have had for as long as I can remember. It’s helping so much. My face looks awesome.

  • Angela Keating January 19, 2019, 8:22 pm

    I’ve been using bag balm for over 13 years and this is a miracle worker on anything on the body that is inflamed or irritated. seriously it was discovered for cow udders since they become so chaffed from the calf’s so it’s safe for babies and nursing mothers. I used it when my son was scrached by a dog on his back in the pool. Dog wanted to play and tried to grab my son from behind in the pool. the welts and pain were severe. Bag Balm healed it immediately. Barely a trace of a scratch next day. I have a habit of bitting the side of my cheek. It hurts and swollen. Rub bag balm on it and very comforting and safe. Not toxic. I have ingrown toe nail since birth and bag balm keeps inflammation and irritation to s minimum. I rave enough about this product. I purchased the soap and oinment by case. Never have enough of it lol. I say look no where else for s life long helper.

  • Paolina May 3, 2019, 9:47 am

    Well, let me tell you,all of the sudden the skin of my face got a lot of wrinkles.
    Tried many creams with a lot of expenses and intolerance of the products, [was worse]. Remembered of a Bag balm antiseptic bought in the 80ths i used it, after a few application the result is amazing!!!!!!!. After a month of use i now am controlling the quantity and also mix it with other creams.Use at night, day time under makeup.
    I am 80 years[ young] , and proud of it, yesterday at a meeting were they ask the date of Birth they thought i made an error Thank-you to the company of Bag Balm’ Now am proud to go out and meet my old [friends and colleagues] And not wanting to hide.

  • Jean August 24, 2019, 7:11 pm

    Over 40 years ago, the wife of a farmer and local Justice of the Peace had an ulcerated leg that her old family doctor could not heal. She said she put put Bag Balm on it and healed it. Her doctor asked her how she did it and she wouldn’t tell him. On the farm with our little son, we called it ‘wonder salve.’ God bless,

  • Wanda Allen November 9, 2019, 2:55 am

    I wish bag balm came in a stick, just for chapped lips!

    • Theresa Phillips April 14, 2020, 1:15 am

      It does come in a squeeze chapstick tube I got mine at target behind cvs pharmacy counter amazon has it also

  • Cacheatuh Smith April 17, 2020, 12:06 pm

    I ordered Bag Balm online for my dog who had mites and skin irritations; however, my dog passed away. So, here I am a few days later and just ran out of the hand lotion I usually use, and my hands are dry and feel like dry dog paws. So, the can was sitting there and I thought, well maybe I’ll try this. I read the comments here, and I am convinced to give it a go. Will get back and let you know in a week what I find. Thanks for your input!