Bag Balm Vs Udder Balm: What Makes Them Different?

Bag Balm is a common skincare product in American households these days. But, it was originally produced for treating dry and irritated cow udders.

How does it compare to other cattle skin and wound care items?

Read our Bag Balm vs Udder Balm comparison to understand what draws the line between these products.

Bag Balm vs Udder Balm: Side By Side Comparison


FeaturesBag BalmUdder Balm
IngredientsContains petroleum jelly and paraffin besides lanolin.Has lanolin but does not have petroleum jelly or paraffin.
UseNow it’s more common as a human skincare product.It’s specifically used on dairy cattle.
Texture & AppearenceBag Balm has a thicker consistency. It is light yellow in color.Udder balm feels creamier. So, it’s thinner than Bag Balm. Its color is a lighter variation of beige.
Price Check On Amazon Check On Amazon

Difference Between Bag Balm and Udder Balm:

Primary Ingredients:

Bag Balm

Bag Balm has high levels of petroleum jelly and lanolin. The label reads that it also contains 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate.

It gives the Bag Balm its antiseptic properties. 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate is a regulated chemical, but its presence in Bag Balm is minimal. You will find only 0.03% of it in the ointment, which is usually safe for topical application.

In earlier versions of Bag Balm, there was 0.005% ethyl mercury. Ethyl mercury was used to prolong the shelf life of the product, but FDA, later on, marked it as a potential carcinogen.

So, Vermont, the manufacturer of the original Bag Balm, decided to stop using ethyl mercury. The current Bag Balm formula is completely mercury free.

Cosmetics manufacturers often turn to petroleum as their go-to moisturizing agent. The Bag Balm is rich in petroleum jelly, so it can liven up dry skin immediately.

Petroleum jelly forms a protective barrier on our skin and helps to secure moisture. Besides all that, it’s quite cheap and easy to source.

Lanolin is almost similar to the sebum that our bodies produce. What does sebum do? Sebum forms lipid barriers on our skin. Just like petroleum jelly, it helps to trap moisture and keep the skin hydrated.

But sebum alone can’t put up the fight against dry skin when humidity levels drop substantially. Lanolin extends a helping hand and keeps our skin healthy in winter.

Udder Balm

Lanolin is the most significant ingredient udder balm, and Bag Balm have in common. You can naturally find lanolin in sheep wool.

It comes out from the skin and gets trapped in the wool. The glands in sheep’s bodies secrete lanolin to drive out extra water and keep the skin from getting dry.

Cows and goats don’t produce lanolin, but it works equally well to moisturize their skins. For this reason, lanolin has to be an indispensable component in any working udder balm formula.

Petroleum jelly and paraffin act as supplemental moisturizing agents in skin care products made for humans.

For animals, lanolin provides sufficient moisture and suppleness, so udder balm manufacturers don’t bother adding anything else.

Also, petroleum jelly is considered harmful to livestock. Multiple studies have discovered that continuous exposure to petroleum products could lead to petroleum poisoning in cattle. So, petroleum jelly in Udder Balm is a red flag.

Some Udder balms contain 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate, like Bag Balm, but there are safer alternatives.

We recommend a product with beeswax, tea tree oil, or lemongrass oil. Udder balms need to have antiseptic agents that can relieve teat swelling and redness and treat minor cuts and wounds.


Bag Balm

Before its jump to the mainstream, Bag Balm’s use was limited to farms and ranches. Once users realized that Bag Balm’s softening and moisturizing effect also extends to human skin, it became more popular as a winter skincare item.

Vermont shifted its priorities and focused on making the product more human-friendly.

You will still see the cow logo when you pick up a Bag Balm tin.

But don’t be fooled; it’s more suitable for human use rather than bovine use. Since it has high amounts of petroleum jelly, we would not recommend it for cattle use.

It will work better to treat your dry winter skin, cuts, rashes, and other skin problems.

However, Bag Balm is not 100% risk-free. People with sensitive skin might experience allergic reactions after using Bag Balm because of 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate.

So, you should talk to your dermatologist before using it if you have a skin condition. Also, you should not use Bag Balm on babies without consulting an expert.

So, your is bag balm safe for human use is finally resolved. Yes, it is safe for humans.

Udder Balm

Udder balm is not a single product. You can find a lot of variations in the market.

Some products use the term ‘’Udder Balm’’, but they are actually more similar to Bag Balm. They claim to be equally effective for human and cattle skin, but as we discussed before, that’s not technically true. 

The best cattle skin care products should be petroleum jelly free.

On the flip side, petroleum jelly can be quite helpful for moisturizing human skin, and many people find it more comfortable.

Also, it has 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate, which is a more potent antiseptic and antibacterial agent than the natural elements used in Udder Balm.

You can still use Udder Balm just as you would Bag Balm. The classic Bag Balm formula is 100% safe for human skin.

However, you might not be a fan of the higher lanolin content. The blend of natural essential oils might not be as effective as other compounds, but it does have a soothing impact on the skin.

Final Words:

Bag Balm and udder balm are terms we often use interchangeably. But, there are some subtle differences between them, and we attempted to point them out in our Bag Balm vs. Udder Balm breakdown.

Bag Balm started as an Udder Balm itself but later evolved to break into our regular winter skincare routine.

Genuine Udder Balms, on the other hand, do not have artificial fragrances and preservatives. It is mainly aimed at cattle but works on human skin as well. But for the best results, using specific products for livestock and humans is better.

Bag Balm is better for human use, while Udder Balm is what you need to treat the tender teats of your cattle.

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My name is Maria and I am a beauty blogger and writer. I am passionate about all things beauty, from skincare to makeup. On my blog, I share product reviews, tips, and tricks to help others feel confident and beautiful in their own skin. I strive to create a positive and inclusive space for everyone. Join me on my journey as I discover my unique beauty brand and share it with you.