What Do Alaska Commercial Fishermen and Hollywood Celebs Have in Common?


It’s Bag Balm!

Although originally made for cows, Bag Balm has garnered the attention of celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Shania Twain and received mentions in The New York Times and Glamour Magazine. The dry-skin salve has been around since 1899 with the original purpose of soothing chapped cow udders, but the lanolin-rich balm-in-a-box now has found a home in parched hands and on parched faces of people.

The substance with the mild medicinal odor has evolved into a medicine chest must-have.
According to Bag Balm lore, the stuff went from barns to bedrooms when dairy farmers’ wives noticed how smooth their spouses’ fingers were after using it on cows’ udders.

If you haven’t heard of bag balm, it’s a veternary product. It’s sold for use on animals and particularly on cows. And, it says so on the side of the green can with pink flowers and lettering. “After each milking, apply thoroughly and allow coating to remain on surface . . .”

If you have a cow, and your cow has teat problems, then you go buy some Bag Balm. Cow owners have been treating dry and cracked cow udder and teats with Bag Balm for a long time… Bull owners might use Bag Balm for barbwire cuts and such, but bulls do not have teats. And I won’t even explain that one.


When you live on a farm, you often make do. It’s not unusual for farm folk to try out the animal meds. When you live on a commercial fishing boat and find out what this stuff can do for dry chapped hands that have been in rubber gloves all day, you give it a try.

Bag Balm was in the bathroom cabinet at my husbands folks along with iodine, Pepto Bismal, and Bayer aspirin. It was considered a staple item and certainly more pleasant than the iodine.

Bag Balm is pretty much like Petroleum jelly but with a mild analgesic. It helps block the pain after application and then stays on and protects the cuts on weathered hands. We use it like Neosporin and it is much cheaper than Neosporin. Another alternative was Buckly’s from Race Ave Drugs which is no longer available.

Bag Balm is not a NEWS FLASH for most rural families, but it is unusual to begin seeing Bag Balm in department stores and at the drugstore. I wondered what was up with all that. Then I read that Shania Twain mentioned that she used Bag Balm as a moisturizer on her face and hair.


I’ve used Bag Balm since I started commercial fishing 25 years ago on my chapped lips as well as wind-burned cheeks and hands. When I tell people I’ve used it all over my face especially my eyes, no one believes me. It’s true! I have tried every expensive skin care product under the sun and none compare to the anti inflammatory benefits of Bag Balm. It sorta works like Preparation H. under the eyes. I will also tell you that this makes an awesome wintertime night cream for your whole face (as long as you are not prone to breakouts…lanolin is a notorious pore-clogger). Fortunately, I am not prone to breakouts, so I use Bag Balm on my face religiously during the winter months. It smells medicinal and it’s greasy as can be…but it works! Probably because it also contains beta-hydroxy acids which is great for regenerating aging or damaged skin. If I were trapped on a deserted island, Bag Balm would be on my list of requested supplies. (Hey wait! I do live on an island!)

My husband Ole has been using Bag Balm on the boat for many years. Anytime he gets a fish cut on his finger he uses Bag Balm, it seems to reduce the healing time by half.

How to Use Bag Balm:

Things You’ll Need
Bag Balm


1. Swipe your hand across the surface of the salve. Bag Balm is stored in a small tin and has the feel of a thick petroleum jelly. Swiping your hand lightly across the surface will allow your fingers to pick up a small amount at a time.

2. Apply to areas needing healing.

3. Smooth out the ointment over your skin’s surface. Bag Balm will not absorb immediately, but blend the ointment as best you can.

Tips & Warnings
Consider applying Bag Balm at night. Some people claim that Bag Balm restores troubled skin overnight. Sleeping with Bag Balm on your face gives the product time to absorb. My tip would be, pull your hair back and put a towel on your pillow case.

Bag Balm was designed to heal chapping, abrasions and minor cuts. Many people use Bag Balm on rough areas such as hands and feet that are very dry and cracked. Don’t use this product if you have acquired a deep cut.

While my bathroom always has a small refillable jar of it on my sink and a big tin under the sink as back-up, my bag is also never without a mini-Bag Balm for all of life’s little skin-related issues. It really is one of the greatest skin remedies out there whether it be for yourself, or the udders of all those cows you have in your backyard.

If you’ve been living a Bag Balm free life, I implore you to give it a try. Your skin will thank you.
I promise. It’s also extremely cheap considering how long it lasts.

One bonus with Bag Balm is that you have a nice tin when you are done. It does take a heap of scrubbing to get the last of the balm out. Once clean, you can use it for your screws and nails or other small items.

To purchase Bag Balm

Google Bag Balm or visit www.bagbalm.com

Do you have a Bag Balm success story? I would love to hear about it.

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