Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chamois Creams: a Comparative Review

Chamois Creams Comparison
One of the first cycling-specific products I began to use when I started riding for longer distances, was chamois cream. Pronounced "shammy cream," this type of product is applied either directly to the crotch or to the inside of bicycle shorts (or underwear), in order to reduce chafing. The creams also have soothing, wound-healing and antibacterial properties that feel nice and help prevent infections. I have extremely rash-prone skin and I am prone to UTIs, but using chamois cream has virtually eliminated these problems. I go through the stuff fairly quickly, using up a tube every 1-2 months when I ride regularly. I have tried a handful of different brands. When I run out, I usually buy whatever the local bike shops sell, which can vary. A couple of the creams I've gotten based on friends' recommendations. Here is what I think of the ones I've used over the past 3 years:

Chamois Butt'r Eurostyle
I will start with Chamois Butt'r, which was the first cream I tried. It is available in two versions: regular and "eurostyle" - the former being non-tingly and the latter tingly. I bought the regular version first, and it did not work for me all that well; I found it somewhat bland and not entirely effective in preventing chafing unless I used a huge amount. It also did not stay effective for very long - maybe an hour tops. So next I tried the eurostyle and liked it a lot better; it did a better job preventing chafing than the regular version and lasted longer. It is worth noting that some people can't stand the tingly/cooling types of chamois creams and find that they burn or itch, so be careful. However, I do not have this problem and prefer the cooling creams. 

The consistency of Chamois Butt'r is medium-thick. Ingredients of the eurostyle version include witch hazel, aloe and menthol. But the dominating scent is oddly medicinal rather than herbal. While not my favourite cream, the eurostyle Butt'r does the job. I also like that it comes in smaller tubes, making it easy to keep in a jersey pocket in case you need to reapply in the course of the day. 

DZ Nuts Chamois Cream
I tried DZ Nuts because it was the only cream a nearby bike shop carried when I ran out and needed more. I remember distinctly how reluctant I was to get it, because the packaging put me off (the image just says "crotch on fire" to me). But once I tried it, it became my preferred product. DZ Nuts has a cooling feel similar to the eurostyle Chamois Butt'r, except it works better for me and the effects last longer. The soothing and healing properties are excellent, and I have even used it to soothe sunburn and rashes outside the saddle area. There is now a woman's version of this cream (Bliss) and I tried a sample at some point, but did not care for it. They basically eliminated the cooling effect for the women's cream.

The consistency of DZ Nuts is on the thin side, similar to body lotion. Ingredients include tea tree oil, sandalwood, barley extract and menthol - which the scent reflects. The scent is pretty strong and that might put some people off, but it does not really bother me. I like that this cream comes in a tube, though I wish a smaller size was available.

Vaseline as Chamois Cream
While Vaseline/ petroleum jelly is not marketed as a chamois cream, it can work in that capacity. I learned about this on Rivendell's website (here is the article) and decided to try it, since it's so much less expensive than actual chamois cream and readily available in any drug store. Vaseline both lubricates and heals. There is no tingling to bother those who are sensitive to it, there are no ingredients than can irritate, and the smell is more or less neutral. When traveling long distance, a cyclist can stop at any pharmacy and get some.

However, the problem I found with Vaseline is that it can seep through bicycle shorts (especially if they are unpadded) and discolour or otherwise damage leather saddles. It can also discolour the shorts themselves, leaving grease-like stains that resist removal. I stopped using Vaseline fairly quickly for these reasons despite its effectiveness and low cost. But I would still use it in an emergency, and I often use it post-rides. 

Mad Alchemy Chamois Creme
Mad Alchemy is a local-to-me company. Their chamois cream is all-natural, paraben-free, and US-made in small batches. So far I have tried the Pro+ and the LaFemme versions of the cream. They both feel markedly different than the mass-produced creams, especially the texture and smell - both are somewhere in between the filling of lemon pie and old-fashioned cold cream. It looks whipped, semi-transparent and almost luminous. As far as chafing prevention, I find the Pro+ version more effective than the LaFemme. The Pro+ has a mild tingly effect and combines some of the properties I like in DZ Nuts and eurostyle Chamois Butt'r, but suspended in a different type of base.

The consistency of the Mad Alchemy Pro+ is medium-heavy. Ingredients include grape seed, tea tree, sweet orange and lavender oil. The scent reflects this, but is very mild. While I like everything about the Mad Alchemy cream in itself, I find the packaging inconvenient as I can't carry it in a jersey pocket and reapply when necessary. I wish they made a version in a tube. 

Sportique Century Riding Cream
I bought the Sportique Century Riding Cream on the recommendation of a friend, who rides long distance and is crazy about it. I was complaining that no saddle seems to feel comfortable to me after 60 miles or so, and she recommended liberally applying this cream as a solution. I did, and I wish it worked. The cream is described as anti-microbal and anti-fungal. But honestly, it just feels like thick moisturising lotion. Sure, it prevents friction if I absolutely pack my shorts with it, but the effect fades fairly quickly and I do not experience the healing and soothing properties as I do with the creams I prefer. 

The consistency of the Sportique is medium-heavy. Ingredients include shea butter, wheat protein, sweet almond oil and beeswax. The scent is heavy on the shea butter and quite strong, almost candy-like. While this cream might work wonders for some, it is not for me. 

Rapha Chamois Cream
I tried the Rapha chamois cream over this past winter. I forgot to apply my own cream before a long ride, and a local shop had it in stock as a new release. Like many Rapha products, this cream has a whole romantic narrative attached to it ("...inspired by the flora around Mont Ventoux") and comes in some pretty fetishistic packaging including a slender tin jar with raised lettering. But this aside, the product works very well for me: It cools, soothes, prevents chafing and its effectiveness lasts a surprisingly long time (possibly the longest of the chamois creams I've used).

Consistency is medium-thin, similar to DZ Nuts. In the jar it resembles the original Noxema face cream I used as a teenager. Ingredients include glycerine, shea butter, menthyl and rosemary extract. However, it smells rather aggressively of pine - which I can't stand in any context other than on actual pine trees. So while I like the cream quite a lot, my dislike of the smell prevents me from purchasing it again. That, and the pretty jar is awkward to carry in my jersey pocket.

Boudreaux's Butt Paste
Boudreux's Butt Paste is the product Pamela Blalock recommends, so of course I had to try it. I ordered myself a sample and am not sure what to make of it. Not an actual chamois cream but a diaper rash treatment, the consistency and smell are like nothing else I can reference. Ingredients include zinc oxide, boric acid and castor oil. The scent is medicinal and odd; I can't really place it. While mildly unpleasant, it is not overbearing. The colour is tan-brown. Consistency is half way between toothpaste and putty. 

True to its name, this stuff is definitely a paste and not a cream. It feels a little stiff to apply and does not spread quite as easily as actual chamois creams. The upside is that it stays put rather tenaciously. If your saddle discomfort is concentrated in a specific spot, this could be a particularly good product to use because it will actually stay in the area where you apply it. I have not yet decided whether I prefer Boudreux's over the other creams I like, but it is certainly an interesting one. And the fact that it comes in tubes of different sizes is very convenient. 

All things considered, the chamois cream I gravitate toward the most is probably DZ Nuts. It works for me, it can be purchased at several local bike shops, and it's available in a tube. But as with most other products, preferences differ. I like the "euro" style creams with the tingly/cooling sensation, while others cannot tolerate them. Despite being female, I consistently prefer the men's/unisex versions of creams and don't like the women's formulas. I find tubes more practical than jars. And I am relatively indifferent about a cream's consistency and texture, while others have very specific preferences in this regard. Chamois creams differ in their properties and it may take you a couple of tries to find one you like. While some popular names are absent from this review, these are the products I've used so far and I hope my descriptions are helpful. 

81 comments:

  1. I don't use this stuff, never felt the need.

    DZ is Dave Zabriskie. He's a funny guy.

    DZ Nutz -- soothing balm for the testicles.

    Saw an interview with him a few years ago when he/she/it/company was developing it. Lance & Levi were in it. His working title...get ready for it...

    DZ Lips.

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  2. If a ride will require me to paste up my butt, that is a ride I am better off not doing. Nothing against people who use the stuff, but it just isn't for me. If anything, I have moved to not wearing chamois padded shorts for biking and have been loving it.

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    1. Wait until you ride serious distances or solid miles over multiple days. I'm doing a 200 miler on Saturday and packing sample sizes in my saddle bag so I can re-apply along the way...

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    2. Really depends on the rider, Chris.

      I've done multiple tours including cross country (~70 miles per day) wearing regular shorts without pads and not using any sort of special lotions.

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    3. Depends on the cyclist, and saddle. I ride a hilly 70-miler fixed every month, and an occasional century, wearing my own brand wool knickers and regular boxer shorts. Maybe some calamine powder is all I use. No padded shorts, no creams. Live in a hot place.

      However, before I found my current favorite saddle, I did use padded tights for long rides. Flite Trans Ams (unfortunately out of production) do it for me, though oddly Brooks B-17s do NOT.

      Everyone's butt is different.

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    4. I've ridden long in that kind of clothing without butt butter; no issues. I don't see it as something that absolutely is needed.

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    5. It's really more about your personal anatomy. I can go for a ride with a friend and he won't need any chamois cream while I need to lube up or else face dire chafing. Some people face chafing and irritation, while some don't, even on the same ride on the same type of bicycle.

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    6. The heat of the day and how much you tend to sweat factors in, too; and for some people, it's something that changes either a) as you age or b) as your anatomy changes (carrying a bit of extra weight makes some people have less need for creams; for others, it's just the opposite). For me, I never used to need them at all - then, for some mysterious reason, I did. Wasn't riding longer/harder or anything, just somehow developed the need. Can't explain it. But I only really use them on longer rides, or on super hot days (the salt can be pretty abrasive and nasty). My husband, on the other hand, tends to use them on every ride. He's a way, way better cyclist than I am, so just goes to show that it has nothing really to do with ability/talent/length or difficulty of rides/etc. It's pretty much pure anatomy. I miss being someone who never ever had to use chamois creams, though. :)

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  3. Straight lanolin? I don't usually do rides long enough to care, but it seems to do a good job of fix-it when things get uncomfortable.

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  4. interestingly enough, though I have extremely sensitive skin prone to irritation and other external aggravation, I have never used any form of chamois cream -- even on my long rides (70+ miles) and have never experienced any discomfort "down there" (aside from the expected soreness from impact) as a result.

    What I WOULD like, however, are a pair of bib-shorts that completely eschew even the most remote of latex derivatives for their elasticity... as these tend to leave me in hives/rashes/etc... after a sweaty or hot ride, especially.

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  5. First of all, I do not know how you manage to have reviews posted just as I need them but thanks.

    This question is for the guys, though I guess there is a ladies version as well. I do not know how to word this gingerly, but I'll try. I have been using regular Butt'r and in addition to putting it on my butt and thighs where there may be rubbing, I put it on my "man parts" in case they rub against the shorts and just to make sure there is no friction. Does the cooling cream hurt more there? How does it compare to say Gold Bond?

    Another one that is a bit sensitive but I'll give it a shot. What about using it on nipples. I assume women do not have as bad of nipple chafe given that they are (probably) wearing a bra which hold tight, but I know on my longer rides, I get it kinda bad. Not running-a-marathon type of bad, but it hurts none-the-less.

    Thanks. And hopefully, we can be mature with this

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    1. Re nipples: Yep, works well. I use regular Chamois Butt'r for that purpose.

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    2. absolutely on the nipples- salt and a sweaty jersey make for lots of chafe.
      also apply on the very front of your chamois to help the "man" thing.

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  6. BTW that's two Blalock references this week. Don't forget about us punters, one of whom said, "there will be a lot of knowledge coming out of RSC; that's where you'll learn a bunch."

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  7. Thanks; this is interesting.

    I do wish more manufacturers would come up with product names that *didn't* sound like they were invented by middle school students, though.

    I believe that the cooling/tingly sensation comes from menthol, which causes the cooling effect and has analgesic properties.

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  8. No comments yet on this sensitive subject? Anyone want to know Kieth Bontrager's homemade recipe? Or the banana solution?

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  9. Although I personally use Vasolene Petroleum Jelly, I would recommend using Theraseal if you want an equally effective but essentially non-greasy substitute.In addition, I would never personally use Bag Balm for hotspots, but would always use a high-potency topical steroid.

    Bernie Burton,MD
    Cyclingskindoc@gmail.com

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  10. I had an irritating rash that turned into a nasty fungal infection that took a month and two tubes of Lotrimin to knock down. I agree that the odor of some of these meds can be really off-putting. Lotrimin is fine, even pleasant, in this regard.

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  11. Bagbalm -- works wonders
    http://goo.gl/NO2Eh

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  12. I'd never used any kind of chamois cream until this year. I find that as I've gotten older, the changing texture of my skin means that I chafe in places that never chafed before. :(

    I don't usually ride in chamois shorts these days, and my sitting bits aren't usually where I have a problem. I've used Chamois Butt'r or a (non-cycling-specific) body butter-type cream, and it does seem to help a bit.

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  13. Oh boy, can I relate to this! My first summer biking (Rivendell Betty Foy, NOT a race bike!) I got 3 UTIs. Then I discovered chamois cream. All I can say is, bless the bike shop guy who was not too embarrassed to explain this concept to me! Since using the cream (Assos) I have not gotten a single infection. It does not matter what kind of bike you ride and if you wear bike shorts or not. If you're getting irritated down there on long rides, give it a try!

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  14. I really like Assos cream. Does the job, lasts a long time after being applied, and gives you that minty fresh feeling down there. And it comes in an attractive shade of blue.

    It comes in an inconvenient jar, but every spring I buy a few jars and transfer it to reusable plastic tubes like these: http://tinyurl.com/buwlwr5

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  15. I was using Cream of the Gods, a locally-made natural PDX:
    http://creamofthegods.com/

    I loved it -- but discovered when I got a new bike last year that I didn't need it anymore, because the new bike doesn't cause ANY chafing, regardless of how long or hot the ride is. I was very surprised (and pleased).

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  16. I would never, ever put anything containing menthol on my skin, especially not the sensitive groin area! It has a cumulative sensitizing effect and will likely end up making your skin in that area more prone to irritation and inflammation. Same with mint, camphor, citrus oils, and lots of "natural" ingredients. If it's tingling, that's a sign of irritation.

    I prefer Monistat anti-chafe gel, or paw paw ointment.

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  17. My first proper pair of cycling shorts over thirty years ago were wool (no padding then) with a real Chamois insert. Using Chamois creme was a necessity. The Chamois became like sandpaper once the shorts were laundered and needed liberal applications of Chamois creme to soften the insert. The stuff used back then was from the Ron Kitchin range, yellow in colour with the consistency of a thick grease. Synthetic Chamois has been a big improvement in reducing rider discomfort, more hygenic and best of all, doesn't become like sandpaper after laundering.

    I have used lots of different products over the years, now off the market. I can't comment on any of the above products which you have used, other than Vaseline which I don't like. The current Chamois creme I use is 'Assos Chamois Creme' which I find is very good. I don't know if this is sold through bike stores in the US but is available online from Chain Reaction Cycles. It is not available in your preferred squeezy tube as far as I know.

    What I can add from experience is that the saddle can have as big an impact on rider comfort as much as the choice of Chamois creme. I think you have to experiment with different products to find one that suits you and then stay with it.

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  18. Do many men use these kinds of products? I've rode lots of miles over time, including a bunch of 250 mile weeks and never felt the need. Not that I am immune to everything - I can walk into a gym shower and pick up athlete's foot instantly. Boudreaux's Butt Paste is our go to relief for our toddler's diaper rash. We tried a lot of products but that works best.

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  19. You all saw when Snobby posted this surely? http://www.marketwatch.com/story/study-by-ucla-school-of-nursing-finds-cycling-may-negatively-affect-male-reproductive-health-2012-05-21 "The study found an association between an increase in estrogen levels and increasing years of chamois cream use, particularly for male cyclists using the cream for more than four years". b

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  20. I use Hoo Ha Ride Glide. Cooling tingly and antibacterial. Works good and comes in sampler sizes.

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    Replies
    1. As I say above, I've never had the need for these products, but I almost want to if I can buy something with that name!

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  21. Try this: Go to the dollar store and buy a body lotion with a dispenser hole that lets you invert the bottle to squirt the stuff in your shorts whilst they are half way up your legs. Apply liberally and ride. Repeat tomorrow. Very cheap, easy and effective.

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    1. For heaven's sake, do not use ordinary body lotion. It contains many ingredients that are irritants, especially for female genitalia. If you don't want to spend money on chamois cream, use vaseline.

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  22. There is nothing growing around Mt Ventoux. I have been there.

    The only shorts I would want something for were those Rapha Quarter Pants that I just could not ware after trying them once, I threw them away.

    We ran out of Assos for about 3 months a couple of years back and when it returned, customers were coming in and buying 5 tubs at a time!
    It must be really good!
    I ride good shorts for long rides, and Brooks Saddles with any shorts for rides under 20 miles with no problems and no cream. I wash the shorts after every ride and leave them in the sun, pad side up for a day. I haven't had a you know what, on my you know where, for years.

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  23. One word to the wise about the various "tingly"/menthol varieties: Don't use them on areas that have chafed already, unless you are wondering what "crotch on fire" feels like!

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    Replies
    1. Like the author I prefer tingly chamos creams. I experience them as cooling and soothing, not as crotch on fire. I do not hesitate to use them on already chafed skin.

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  24. From what V and people have said I'm guessing that the chamois shorts are worn with no underwear? Couldn't that be part of the problem? When I go on long walks I'll often wear 2 pairs of socks so they rub together, and not my skin. When I cycle I wear merino underwear and have never had problems, although admittedly I don't do 60+ mile rides. Asking out of complete naviety.

    By the way Velouria, if you have cream that you like that isn't in a tube couldn't you scoop some into one of the 100ml bottles necessary for liquids on planes nowadays, or is it to thick a consistency?

    Ta

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    1. Cochlan makes refillable squeezy tubes for camping. They should work but it's a bit of a pain to fill and clean them.

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    2. Chamois are designed to be worn next to the skin. The main purpose is to move moisture away from the skin to reduce irritation. Putting a layer between the skin and chamois will only trap moisture and eliminate the benefit of the chamois.

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  25. You might also want to check out Brave Soldier Friction Zone.

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  26. No users of Body Glide/Chamois Glide? That is the only thing I have used on longer rides and it does seem to help with chafing and irritation that comes from my own sweat.

    After getting into bike commuting I found I was chafing when the temperatures got higher in the summer. I decided to look for an anti-friction solution. When looking the first time at my local store they stocked just the Chamois Glide and the Chamois Butt'r. The choice was the tube of cream or something that resembled a stick of solid deodorant.

    Since I wanted something easy, and was adverse to using a "goop", I chose the Chamois Glide. Found it rubbed on rather easily on the skin. It felt really light, far lighter than what I supposed a goop would feel like. The solid stick does seem like it would be neater and less messy than a tube of goop. Also, if I want to take it along on a ride the form factor is far superior to any of the other packages I have seen listed here, it will easily slip into a jersey pocket and be unobtrusive.

    I still have been curious what the Chamois Butt'r would be like...I might just get a tube to compare against the performance of the Chamois Glide.

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  27. Some riders just have sensitive skin and need these products. Most of us don't. If you have problems the first thing to address is your position. The second is your choice of saddle. The third is your selection of shorts and how they fit. Wanting chamois cream is most often a sign that more basic things are wrong. Even if you find a product that affords perfect and total comfort don't stop looking for what you might do so that you're happy with nothing. Until rather recently it was vaseline or lanolin or homebrew or nothing and most riders have always preferred nothing.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, but:
      It really depends on how long you ride. I'm fine without on a 100 km ride, probably on a 150 km one, too. But for brevets or multi-day tours I do use chamois cream.

      Delete
  28. People actually lube up their butt to ride? Seriously?! It's bad enough wearing padded butt shorts (they ALL, even the expensive ones, feel like a full diaper, admit it) but mate that up with some goopy lube and you have me shifting in my office chair.

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    1. the other AnonymousJune 28, 2012 at 1:44 PM

      unless you commute long distance, I don't think anyone is suggesting using chamois cream on your way to the office

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    2. I'm not sure what is considered long distance, but my ride to the office is 20 miles. Round trip. 3x a week.

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    3. Those of us who choose to use cycling shorts and chamois cream do so because it makes riding more comfortable. I could ride in street clothes and I do for short 10-15 mile rides around town. But I've found that the proper clothes make long rides much more enjoyable. If you have conflicting experiences, that is wonderful. The way your butt feels on the bike has no affect on the way my butt feels on a bike.

      As for the full diaper feel, they do feel different, but it isn't annoying on the bike. And no one who enjoys using cycling shorts really cares what they feel like off the bike. You put the shorts on, ride your bike, then take the shorts off.

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  29. This is a useful post. I especially like that you describe the consistency and smell of each lotion. You are right that the menthyl based products are love it or hate it, so it is good to know which is which.

    Maybe in a year you could post part 2 of this review, featuring the products you left out. Here is a list I suggest:
    Assos
    Blue Steel
    Brave Soldier
    That Butt Stuff
    Glide
    Bag Balm

    Cheers,
    Michael

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  30. Wow. Not only do people use this stuff, but they carry it with them on rides and reapply? What else don't I know about the gory details of road cycling? Thanks for this morbidly fascinating post :)

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  31. How nice it is to use a different bike seat and not having to worry about this stuff (spongy wonder bike seat).

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  32. Personally I don't use chamois cream on a regular basis, because I don't usually ride more than 10 miles a day. But I am amused by how freaked out some of you are by the idea. Most women I know will not leave the house without smearing themselves with body lotion, facial moisturizer, hand cream. Sun screen in the summer. So because these things are not bike specific, they are okay... but chamois cream is somehow weird?

    Lots of my friends are cyclists. Judging by which of them use chamois cream and which don't, my impression is that it depends more on how sensitive their skin down there is, than on the kind of bike or saddle or shorts they use.

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    Replies
    1. Anna,
      It is a combination of the two. Some have not made the necessary bike adjustments (saddle, etc.) others have more sensitivity.

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  33. This makes me insecure all over again that perhaps I have never yet ridden really hard. I've ridden 175mi at a go, and dozens of >50mi days back to back in unpadded wool trousers, wool boxers, on Brooks saddles, and never felt the kind of discomfort that a cream could conceivably help.

    I have experienced saddle sores, which I know now how to ward off at the first signs with Bag Balm. I've also had some infections probably related to the filthy western habit of using dry toilet paper. I now carry wet wipes on long rides, and make sure everything's super clean down there. I can't see gooping up helping with the cleanliness part.

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    1. Really, for some the stuff just isn't needed. I am like you, I can ride long rides day to day and not really need to do anything special except make sure stuff is clean. Of course, I often ride without lycra so maybe that is it.

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  34. No mention of Udderly Smooth? I find it works really well. No tingle just a nice thick cream. Good for over 100 miles.
    To those who don't use chamois cream, good for you. Just don't complain about us that do. I find I'm fine for 30-odd miles but rides that are longer than that I like to use a cream. And funnily enough I don't suffer from a sore backside or saddle sores. And as long as I don't I'll keep using the cream. Along with the padded shorts.

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    Replies
    1. UdderlySmooth is also vastly less expensive than the more boutique brands and quite effective.

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  35. I should probably explain *how* I use Butt Paste, since it's fairly different from traditional chamois creme. It is nappy/diaper rash creme. I apply it directly to the skin in the areas where I tend to get a friction rash - right under the sit bones. I rub it in, just like sunscreen. I typically don't use it for commuting, unless I need it for healing purposes. Sometimes a long wet ride may have resulted in a bit of tenderness or a seam in a cheap pair of shorts will rub a raw spot. First I perform a ritual burning ceremony for said shorts - and then after showering, I apply the butt paste to the injury, and continue using it until I'm healed. It has amazing healing properties. Year's ago a RAMM friend recommended a nappy cream with boric acid in it, and it saved my cross country ride. Sadly boric acid disappeared from nappy creams for many years. It seemed to be the magic/active ingredient for me. I was thrilled when I found Butt Paste. I have noticed recently they now have two versions, one with and one without. I hope this is not a sign that the boric acid version may go away.

    I tend to use it more liberally for long rides or rides where I'll get soaked. I rarely have need to reapply mid-ride, unless I'm doing something like a 300km. But I'm the same with sunscreen which I apply first thing when I am getting dressed.

    I use a saddle with a hole, and have not had the classic crotch issues since I converted to this style of saddle 20 years ago. As with everything YMMV - your mileage may vary.

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  36. Sudocrem is the cyclists unction of choice in the UK! It's cheap, certified for use on baby's bottoms and a small jar lasts for ages... http://www.sudocrem.co.uk/

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  37. It would be interesting to know what the women and men of our Olympic team use. I am assuming that they ride lots of miles, can use whatever they want for free, get advice from medical professionals, and aren't bound by contract to use specific ointments.
    On the other hand, they may not have put as much thought into this choice as have you.

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    1. That's a simple one. They don't. In days of yore deerskin chamois got lanolin, when good synthetic chamois appeared all that was over.

      Most common thing an elite rider puts on his/her butt is 0.1% topical hydrocortisone. Immediately when something gets sore or sensitive.

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  38. "complaining...no saddle seems to feel comfortable to me after 60 miles or so"

    Even after all those positive saddle reviews. Hint: it has to do with riding technique. Another example of how the rider can overcome "product". Someone should write about solving problems through a concerted effort, not whipping out the credit card.

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  39. I generally only use chamois cream on rides longer than 300k/200 mi (in the same day) or so. But if I'm going to be on the bike longer than that, I use it and re-apply as needed mid-ride. For multi-day touring if I get the occasional saddle sore I use Boudreaux's to help it heal, but that's all I really need.

    Actually, I used to get saddle sores all the time from commuting (in regular clothes) because the seam on my underwear went right across the sit-bones. I switched to boxers maybe 12 years ago and haven't had that problem since. I also think that, especially after spending long periods of time in bike shorts, the ventilation boxers offer is a good thing. I suppose a thong would solve the same problem, but... umm, no.

    (Incidentally, for those who were wondering... bike shorts are meant to be worn next to the skin. Adding a layer underneath, like underwear, is just going to cause bunching and chafing)

    Position, technique, and saddle choice are certainly all related to comfort, but using chamois cream doesn't interfere with any of that stuff. If it makes you more comfortable, where's the problem?

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    1. Assos and DZ Nuts are the clear best two creams.

      I'm surprised by the lame comments and noob questions. Who cares if you don't use it? Yes males use these all the time.

      Delete
  40. This is a question for the ladies. Has anyone had issues with using chamois cream and yeast infections? Just seems like it might add a bit of too much warm moisture in that area...

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  41. You can sometimes completely remove Vaseline stains from cycling clothes with, of all things, carburetor cleaner. It sounds absolutely mad but if you get the proper type(acetone based, not the more common alcohol based brands. I use 2+2 Berkebile brand) it is actually the same type of thing the dry cleaner is using on the stubborn stains you take to them when you give up at home.

    It's worked on wool and synthetics for me and is what I use to remove the grease/ink/paint that would quickly cover me altogether otherwise. YRMV. If you don't want to send all those nasty molecules off into the atmosphere I understand, but if you're going to just take it to the cleaners anyway and let them do it at least you can do it cheaper and without the schlepp this way...

    Spindizzy

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    1. Dry cleaners use tetrachloroethylene and Thank Merckx they are now largely effectively regulated. Dry cleaning fluid is extracted and recycled/reused many many times. If you do notice a stench at the dry cleaners it's most likely the result of someone over-eager and inexperienced doing spot cleaning in open air. Which is illegal. If you ever meet a stinky dry cleaner call the EPA. The EPA spends a lot of time on complex and intractable problems and they actually like getting simple complaints that resolve quickly.

      Acetone is way overkill. And if whatever you put in your shorts is leaving residue behind, that residue will trap dead skin, body oil, sweat, and bacteria.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the info about the specifics about drycleaners, I geuss most of what I thought I knew was secondhand from people who didn't know anymore than I.
      I'm getting used to being wrong but I haven't learned to like it yet...

      However, it does seem to work for me and if it's legal to buy and you have some laying around... And like the Nitromethane they soak the franken berry strawberries from the grocery in to remove the ants and such, acetone evaporates completely and doesn't leave any residue(which still doesn't mean it's a good idea).

      Spindizzy

      Delete
    3. Oh sure it's legal for someone at home. It's illegal for the dry cleaner.

      Nitromethane? Strawberries? That stuff is $40/gallon and not even always available at that price. The explosion hazard makes acetone seem like charcoal lighter

      Delete
  42. Late to the party, but I remember this anecdote told me by a small, wirey, middle-aged man for a while a member of our church who lived life on the margin of society with a marginal job, living in marginal housing and making all his trips by bicycle and bus. He was some 10 or so years older than I and told me how he had arrived in Albuquerque in the dead of a recent winter after riding and pushing his overloaded KMart mountain bike over the Raton Pass. A parishioner gave him a very nice early '80s Trek touring bike that I would have coveted except that it was too small for me.

    Anyway, he told me how, back in the '60s in SoCal, when good bikes and kit were rare, he and his friends would ride from LA down to San Diego in cutoff jeans. To minimize the discomfort they would stuff steaks in the crotch. I believe he was entirely sincere when telling me this.

    He disappeared some 12 years ago and I've not heard of him since.

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    1. Well doesn't surprise me he disappeared. Probably out on some dark desert highway, cool wind in his hair, sitting on a pot roast.

      Delete
    2. @Bif Hilarious!

      I didnt used to bother w chamois cream and I did okay. Got the monkey butt once and bought some Hoo Ha Ride Glide. It has the "cooling effect" which on me was like an anal supernova. Going back to au naturel, yes indeed.

      Delete
  43. If your saddle is too high your rear gets dragged sideways on every pedal stroke. Whenever there's a pace change in the pack and the rpm pop up to 110 or 120 those with high saddles bounce like mad and reach for the gear lever.That bouncing is just a lot of impact.(In DT shifter days those who couldn't manage some rpm change got dropped very quickly and learned, brifters allow mistakes to go unpunished.)Between the sideways drag and the bounce it's no surprise riders get sore butts. Watch the rider in front of you. It looks painful. Or what the new riders are doing looks painful.

    At least half the newly minted "serious" roadies are sitting too high. They will not hear it. They will spend money on product. That's 98% of the market for butt cream. Sure there are ultra-high mileage riders and sensitive skin riders. The main market is the new riders manufacturing a problem for themselves.

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  44. Kevin MacLachlanJuly 2, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    I am surprised that you have not tried Bag Balm. I have found that it works the best. However, if you are alergic to wool this is not the product for you. It is heavely based upon lanolin.

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  45. Your scalp, the soles of your feet, and the skin near your nether regions all have the unique ability to absorb chemicals like a sponge, so for goodness sake, please avoid Vaseline at all costs, as well as anything which contains parabens or Poly Ethylene Glycol (PEG followed by a number) ingredients.

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  46. A wonderful post, Velouria, thanks for the hard work.

    I recommend looking at the ingredient statement of any skin care product you're considering (including sunscreens, lip balms, makeup, you-name-it) and checking them against the Environmental Working Group's ratings of their relative safety.
    EWG publishes a science-based survey and rating system of the potential hazards of these products.
    It turns out that there is surprisingly little regulation and oversight of these products in the United States. Many materials are either suspect or contain suspect contaminates. I've just checked out Vaseline, my go-to hand cream, body lotion and chamois creme for decades. Its not highly regarded as safe. Yikes! But I see that cocoa butter is given the safest rating. Same goes

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  47. Another good Chamois Cream to review would be Smooth Ride, from OA Performance Products

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  48. Road 7,000 kms in 5 months and loved chamois cream. Spent the first 2,000km without it and then with. Not so worried about the pain, but does stop inflammation occurring in hair follicles and stop the irritation. I've done plenty of long distance rides (2,000km in a month) and not used it, after using it... I wish I'd taken the plunge earlier.

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  49. personally i started not using anything until i found Zevlin's Crack and Super Crack chamois creams (yes those might fall into the juvenile naming mentioned by another commenter, but they made me laugh), now i won't ride without one of them protecting me. For me it's more about lowering the irritation and inflammation after a ride as opposed to no discomfort while i ride. I am able to ride multiple days in a row with less irritation thanks to the chamois cream.

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  50. I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet, but the tiny, cheap, ubiquitous contact lens case is perfect for carrying an extra application of chamois cream in one cup, and sunscreen (or grease, on the chance of a mechanical issue/or still another application of chamois cream) in the other.

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  51. I picked up some Boudreux's Butt Paste in a pinch from a drugstore 30 mi into a century. 5 days later, full blown yeast infection down there (male). Have done dozens of centuries, never had this issue. It totally locked in moisture for days. Multiple machine washings of the chamois has not cleaned out the coating from the butt paste. That's just not right.

    I would not recommend Boudreux's Butt Paste as a chamois cream substitute, even in a time of extreme difficulty or discomfort.

    Dznuts hasn't let me down, ever. I hope they still make the stuff.

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  52. Thank you for your invaluable review of products I will (very) soon begin testing. For an emergency, tho, I had a product on hand and it helped a lot (after damage was done), so I thought I'd share the info: It's another product in the baby care aisle, Vitamin A & D Ointment. It's not a cream but petroleum jelly with vitamins added. Comes in tubes and tubs. I first encountered it (that I remember) in a hospital, treating open sores, tho it has been used on countless babies' bottoms which require TLC of course. Minimal scent disappears very fast. Hope this is useful to someone.

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  53. How long is Vaseline lasting compared to dedicated chamois creams? I would guess longer, but maybe not?

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