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If you’ve escaped the dreaded chafing “down there” while biking or running long distances, consider yourself lucky. This uncomfortable and often painful phenomenon happens when sweaty skin rubs against clothing or other material.

Cyclists are prone to chafing below the waist, and more specifically, their inner thighs and glutes because of repetitive rubbing against their bike seat, which can lead to saddle sores.

Runners tend to experience underarm or chest chafing when tight clothing rubs against their sweaty skin. And, of course, there’s the all too familiar inner thigh rub that happens to so many of us, regardless of thigh size.

But really, anyone can fall victim to this annoying friction, especially when you combine moisture (aka sweat) and skin and force it to repeatedly rub against something like clothing or a bike seat.

If you’re tired of the burning sensation, but not ready to give up on your activities, you might want to consider using chamois cream in those tender, and often targeted, areas.

In this article, we review what chamois cream is made of and how to apply it. We also check in with several experts to see what they look for in a chamois cream and what products they recommend.

Chamois cream is a viscous or thick cream that minimizes friction between clothing and skin. Also known as anti-chafing cream, it helps prevent the uncomfortable rubbing against the skin that many cyclists and runners experience when training.

Dr. Zain Husain, a board-certified dermatologist, says that in addition to providing a protective layer that prevents chafing, chamois cream offers these benefits:

  • It’s antibacterial, which is helpful during exercise.
  • It’s easily washable.
  • It can relieve minor aches.
  • It soothes irritated skin.

Dr. Constance M. Chen, a board-certified plastic surgeon, says although the primary ingredients in chamois cream vary by brand, some of the more common skin-healthy ingredients include:

  • aloe vera
  • witch hazel
  • shea butter
  • coconut oil
  • sunflower oil
  • provitamins

Some products also have mineral oil and propylene glycol, which is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water.

All chamois cream should have a thick cream base that limits friction by helping the skin slide with the clothing.

Chamois cream is applied to the inner thighs or any place where there may be chafing between the skin and clothing.

Applying chamois cream to your skin

You can apply chamois cream to areas that experience a lot of friction, such as the inner thighs, crotch, buttocks, and underarms. Follow these instructions:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Dip your fingers into the chamois cream and scoop out about three fingers worth of cream (about a quarter-sized amount).
  3. Warm it up in your hands and fingers by rubbing them together.
  4. Massage into the skin.
  5. Apply it before physical activity and reapply every few hours as needed.
  6. Upon completion of the activity, wash off with soap and water.

Applying chamois cream to bike shorts

  1. Turn your bike shorts inside out.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  3. Dip your fingers into the chamois cream and scoop out about three fingers worth of cream (about a quarter-sized amount).
  4. Warm it up in your hands and fingers by rubbing them together.
  5. Apply the cream to the seams of your shorts that touch your crotch and glute area. You can also apply it along the seam that goes from the top of your inner thigh down toward your mid-thigh.
  6. Let it set before putting on your shorts. While waiting, apply some chamois cream to the high part of your inner thighs and the area where your butt cheeks meet (at the distal end) close to the perineum.

When shopping for a chamois cream, the first thing you want to do is check the label to make sure the product you’re looking at contains skin-healthy ingredients.

Then, you’ll want to consider the cost. Beyond that, it really comes down to personal preference and the addition of other ingredients. With that in mind, here are five top picks from our experts.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $20
  • $$ = $20 to $25
  • $$$ = over $25

Doc’s Skin Care

Doc’s Skin Care is a toxic-free chamois cream that’s comfortable to wear and protects the skin from bacteria and fungus.

  • Pros: Contains tea tree oil, aloe vera, and witch hazel, which work to decrease bacterial and fungal overgrowth.
  • Cons: Costly, and some people don’t like that it’s in a tub.
  • Price: $$
  • Buy online.

Enzo’s Button Hole

Enzo’s ButtonHole is a favorite of Dr. Husain because it does an excellent job of soothing chafed skin from friction without being greasy. It also helps reduce inflammation and has a tingly sensation.

  • Pros: Doesn’t contain parabens, gluten, or mineral oil, and it’s vegan.
  • Cons: Costly, and the container is big, so not ideal to take on rides.
  • Price: $$
  • Buy online.

Assos Chamois Cream

Assos Chamois Cream is a popular pick among cyclists, which makes sense since it was developed by a Swiss cycling apparel company. Dr. Chen likes it because it’s made of 100 percent natural and paraben-free ingredients, and doesn’t feel greasy when applied.

  • Pros: Has cooling and analgesic properties, is easy to apply, and lasts a long time.
  • Cons: Users say the price is high for the amount you get.
  • Price: $$
  • Buy online.

Chamois Butt’r Cream Eurostyle

Chamois Butt’r Cream Eurostyle is another favorite of Dr. Chen’s. Developed by medical professionals and pro cyclists, this cream is nongreasy and made without artificial coloring and fragrances.

  • Pros: Nongreasy, paraben-free, and gluten-free. Also washes off clothes easily.
  • Cons: Some users don’t like the cooling effect that comes from the witch hazel and menthol.
  • Price: $
  • Buy online.

Chamois Butt’r for Her

Like the Eurostyle version, Chamois Butt’r for Her was also developed by medical professionals and pro cyclists. Dr. Chen likes this version because it is made specifically for women, with aloe vera, tea tree oil, and lavender oil as the main ingredients.

  • Pros: Balanced pH ideal for women to avoid irritations and rashes.
  • Cons: Some users say it needs reapplying more than other creams.
  • Price: $
  • Buy online.

If you don’t have chamois cream handy, you can also use single ingredients. Dr. Richard Bottiglione, a board-certified dermatologist, recommends daily application of a pre-bath oil, like this one from Dermatologist’s Choice.

The oil hydrates and protects skin before entering the shower or bath, and it also heals irritated skin and skin prone to irritation. When you go on a ride, he says to use something heavy like beeswax body cream or Vaseline petroleum jelly.

Other popular alternatives to chamois cream include:

  • coconut oil
  • Vaseline Intensive Care Body Gel
  • shea butter
  • cocoa butter

NOTE: You can also mix shea butter and coconut oil to make your own cream. Use 4 ounces of shea butter for every 2 ounces of coconut oil.

Order alternatives to chamois cream online

You can shop for the alternatives to chamois cream mentioned above by clicking these links:

Chafing is a common issue for cyclists, runners, and many others who participate in physical activity.

The good news? You don’t have to let this annoying discomfort ruin your workouts. By applying anti-chafing products such as chamois cream to your skin and clothing, you can minimize friction, soothe irritated skin, and exercise longer.