Post by Susan Lacke.
Send the NMA kidlets out of the room, folks. We’re about to talk about some PG-13, borderline NC-17 stuff. Actually, to my Mom and Dad: if you want to skip reading this article, too, that might be a good idea. I’m about to talk about my nether regions.
Yes. THOSE nether regions. The lady flower. The pink taco and muffaletta. The junk in my trunk. My humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps (Mom, Dad, SERIOUSLY. STOP READING).
The Joys of Chafing in Places You Never Knew You Had
As athletes, we’ve all had our share of awkward and embarrassing events where our activities have caused discomfort in awkward and embarrassing places. Walk through the food tent at the finish of a marathon – chances are good you’ll see more than one shirtless man with “X” tape marking his nipples. It’s not because he’s kinky…it’s because bloody nipples are really quite painful (okay, it might ALSO be because he’s kinky…but that’s a different website for you to visit). I had one newbie runner recently confide in me that she was scared to wear “real” running shorts because her thighs rubbed together to the point of red and bleeding chafing.
For Triathletes, It’s Even Worse
Triathletes encounter those issues, of course, but the bike leg of the sport also introduces a whole ‘nother set of awkward and embarrassing afflictions in the most awkward and embarrassing of places. Think about it – when cycling, your crotch and your butt spend hours in direct contact with an awkwardly-shaped contraption. As if that weren’t insulting enough to those parts, it’s doing it while wearing skin-tight padded shorts and pedaling furiously.
Sweaty? Yup. Icky? Totally. Gross? You got it.
No wonder triathletes and cyclists are prone to numbness, pain, chafing and saddle sores – a catchall term which refers to hot spots, abrasions, blisters, pimples, and/or abscesses that result in the inner thighs, crotch and rear end. To prevent such afflictions, many riders turn to chamois cream – used in conjunction with a chamois, the area of the crotch in the bike short that was historically made from skin of the antelope, goat, or lamb.
Never fear, NMAs: animals are rarely skinned for the sake of lubing up your cycling-lovin’ ass. Though some riders still use a leather, the chamois of most bike shorts today are made of synthetic materials. Chamois creams themselves are topical applications that are gooped on (and that’s the technical term for it) to reduce the friction that occurs in those areas. These products aren’t limited to just biking – many runners also use such products to eliminate chafing.
Putting Asses on the Line to Test 5 Chamois Creams
Because I wouldn’t let you try just any old chamois cream, I’ve donated the use of my most intimate areas to test out some products for NMA. Yes, I expect a very nice Christmas present from you this year, thankyouverymuch. Don’t worry, men…I haven’t forgotten you. In the interest of gender equality for this little experiment, I’ve recruited a dude, too.
My male test subject is happy to loan his kibbles ‘n’ bits to scientific inquiry on No Meat Athlete, though only under the cloak of anonymity. Apparently, he has a reputation as a red-meat-eating American to uphold, and the mean kids on the triathlon playground will beat him up if they discover his presence on a veggie-lovin’ site. That said, we’ll refer to him as C – short for “Carnivore.” C is a 13-time Ironman who rides between 50 to 200 miles per week on his bike.
C is also my go-to guy for all things Ironman, and I love him because he’s extremely patient with me and my endless newbie gaffes. Case in point: While discussing this experiment, C asked me, “So how do you apply the cream to the chamois?”
I responded honestly: I slap it on the chamois, rub some on my thighs, and shimmy into the shorts.
He looked at me like I had just peed on a statue of the Virgin Mary. Apparently, there’s a “method,” and my lack of knowledge about this “method” only made my newbie stank that much more pungent. But C, being C, agreed to teach me more about this essential habit for cycling.
That said, I’m not the best person to conduct a how-to workshop on chamois cream application – I just lube my ass, get on my bike, and pray that I can make it through that day’s ride without dying. ‘Kay? ‘Kay.
One thing I will do, however, is give you some ideas as to what kind of chamois creams might work for you. I say ‘might,’ because let’s face it – everyone has different priorities when it comes to this type of product. I’m simply outlining observations made about each product. Four manufacturers sent samples, and C and I reviewed these in a double-blind test.
Chamois Butt’r (Paceline)
One of the most famous chamois creams out there, Chamois Butt’r is really one of the standards for this product. It’s easily obtained at most cycling and triathlon outlets, is relatively affordable ($14.99 for 8 ounces), and easy to apply without much mess.
Of all the creams sampled in this experiment, this one takes the cake on longevity. It lasted the longest in a crotch test during rides in a hot Phoenix summer, so that’s saying a lot. The components which contribute to Chamois Butt’r’s longevity might also be the same components which make it a bit sticky and messy to apply with your fingers – but Chamois Butt’r comes in a squeezable tube, making application a cinch.
If you’re a vegan who wishes to extend your food philosophy to chamois cream, skip this one: It contains lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool. If this isn’t a concern for you, by all means check this one out on your next ride.
Chamois Butt’r Eurostyle (Paceline)
Living up to its name, this one, when dispensed, actually looks like butter. Of all the creams, this one had the creamiest consistency, and really almost had a luxurious feel to it.
Perhaps that’s what makes it ‘Eurostyle’ – European folks are, of course, known for appreciating the finer things in life. In my mind, I see a snooty French man with a curlicue mustache expertly applying Chamois Butt’r Eurostyle to his designer shorts between puffs of his long cigarettes and sips of Bordeaux.
Though it has such a consistency, it applies nicely, spreads easily, and is easy to clean off your hands after application. It performed excellently for both C and me on long rides – in fact, C stated he almost forgot he was even using any cream in the first place.
Just like its famous big brother, Eurostyle contains lanolin. It’s not as easy to find as the original formula, you can get it for $19.99 per 8 ounce jar on Paceline’s website.
Anti-Chafe Cream (Blue Steel Sports)
If you’re a triathlete, chances are you remove your body hair. All your body hair. Don’t ask me why – it’s just something triathletes do.
At any rate, nasty and uncomfortable things such as shaving and waxing can lead to other nasty and uncomfortable things such as ingrown hairs. It can also lead to an increase in chafing and saddle sores, as there is no hair to serve as a “buffer” between skin and chamois. These afflictions can sometimes be linked back to bacteria growing in the warm, moist environments created by cycling. The benefit of Blue Steel Sports’ Anti-Chafe Cream is that it contains many natural antibacterial ingredients, including tea tree oil, that are also very soothing.
The downside? It doesn’t smell all that dandy. It’s not bad, necessarily, it’s just a bit medicinal. I thought it smelled like Band-Aids, while C said it evoked memories of an old-school hair cream his dad used many years ago.
It’s a good product, though, and if it isn’t used as your primary chamois cream, I would highly recommend this as an after-ride cream…so long as you don’t mind the Band-Aid smell. Note: This, too contains lanolin. It’ll run you $11.95 for 3.4 ounces.
Of all the creams tested, Friction Freedom the most likely to make you yelp “WHOOOOO-EE!” Many chamois creams include some sort of mentholated or “tingle” effect. To say Friction Freedom tingles would be an understatement.
It is potent stuff, and it’s effects are quite long-lasting. C couldn’t shake the hot spots caused by this cream, even after multiple attempts to reposition himself in the saddle during a 2.5 hour ride. For me, even after a two-hour ride and a shower, I still felt the buzz in my naughty bits. If you bike to work and still want a smile on your face during a board meeting, this cream’s for you.
The odor, though, was the big turn-off for this cream. I couldn’t quite describe it until I got C’s description: “A combination of rancid wine with minty mouthwash.” Don’t ask how we know what that combination smells like – but trust us when we say that’s exactly what it smells like. It was hard to wash the smell off your hands after application, so when I went to wipe my brow during my ride, I wasn’t too pleased. And yes, there was a tingly sensation on my brow after I wiped, too. Told you this stuff was potent.
Friction Freedom sells their chamois cream for $29.99 for 8 ounces. Again, this isn’t vegan-friendly, as it contains Lanolin as well.
Hoo Ha Ride Glide (Reflect Sports)
I was really excited to receive this product from Reflect Sports, mainly because I was curious to see if there was anything special about a chamois cream created by women, for women.
I wasn’t disappointed. This product appealed to the girly side of me, with its light lavender scent and moisturizing abilities. Even C liked the smell of this, saying that he almost wanted to taste it.
Yes, you read that right – I made a man test a “girly” cream. And you know what? He liked it, too.
If Eurostyle was the snooty French man, Hoo Ha Ride Glide was his sophisticated wife, pedaling through the Tour de France course effortlessly, exclaiming, C’est un beau beurre d’extrémité arrière! (This is a lovely ass butter!) This French lady never crashes. She never gets chain oil under her fingernails. And she certainly doesn’t get helmet hair.
That’s what this cream was for me. It was light, clean, and fresh-smelling, and really got my ride started off on the right note. Granted, after a 4-hour ride this past weekend, I still came home with oil-stained fingernails, helmet hair, and road rash that day…but I’ll be darned if my ass didn’t feel just dandy. C’est un beau beurre d’extrémité arrière, indeed.
There’s no animal product in Reflect Sports’ products, and they strive to be as natural as possible, using barley extract, lavender, eucalyptus leaf, tea tree and peppermint oils. You can get an 8-ounce tube for $21.95 at their website. Use the special code NMA1015 when you check out, and you’ll get 15 percent off.
You Too Can Have a Slick Ass!
Thanks to C for allowing me to use his butt for this experiment, and thanks to the above-mentioned manufacturers for providing samples to use in this process. They’re so cool, many of them actually gave full-sized product samples for a giveaway!
Because we here at No Meat Athlete are dedicated to the quest for knowledge, let us know – what would you like to see us test out on this site? Perhaps there’s something – a food, a training event, a race, a product – that you’ve always wondered about, but were afraid to try. If I’m willing to donate my nether regions (and hey, so is C – and Matt subjected his for a review of compression running shorts, too!), it should be obvious that we are willing (or is it “foolish enough?”) to test things out on your behalf.
Make your suggestions below! We’ll randomly select 5 commenters to receive full-size products from one of the above manufacturers!