Chamois cream ... Idiots guide

by Farky   March 4, 2012  

After over 20 years on a bike I thought I'd ask what for many is a personal question.

Am I missing something by not using chamois cream/butter etc?

I do get hot around the nuts and have had the occasion to apply creams after a ride but never used anything during it.

Do you apply the stuff to the chamois or your nuts?

And if you use a synthetic pad rather than actual natural chamois, does it effect your pad in any negative way?

Question on pads too.

There are so many pad types, chamois, synthetic, gel insert, 3d, etc etc.

What's the best for a balance of sportive comfort and a lack of chaffing?

I'm looking shorts IRO about £50 as its a budget I reckon is sensible for my use but for would you spend more for this kind of use and why? (other than style, brand, etc).

Never bought shorts based on anything but a chamois pad and good value for money so I just want to make sure I'm not missing out on something in making my purchase. I know a lot of this can be subjective and personal but any advice is worth consideration.


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Well being a girlie I can't comment on the 'nuts' Wink but I have done a couple of charity rides to Germany and back and the associated training that goes with it.

Some of our team use Sudocreme and swear by it but have said it does leave greasy stains on their chamois (real or synthetic). I was advised to use Body Care Sportsbalm chamois cream. It is antibacterial and water resistant. So even with being a heavier person than the average cyclist and on the bike for up to 10 hours a day, for a week I only ended up with one small hole in my skin. I applied it to me rather than the chamois.

I'm doing the charity ride again in June so have been using the cream once again.

posted by Footpather [38 posts]
10th March 2012 - 7:59

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In answer to your original questions:

Am I missing something by not using chamois cream/butter etc?
I use Assos chamois cream for any ride longer than about 30 mins, I get nappy rash otherwise. If you've not needed to up til now, why bother?

Do you apply the stuff to the chamois or your nuts?
I apply the chamois cream to my shorts once a month or so, and apply it to my sitbones and the sides of my nuts (between the thighs).

And if you use a synthetic pad rather than actual natural chamois, does it effect your pad in any negative way?
My main pairs of shorts are Assos, so no.

What's the best for a balance of sportive comfort and a lack of chafing?
This is as personal as choice of saddles. Try as many as possible. I love Assos, but they are hideously expensive.

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posted by schmiken [45 posts]
11th March 2012 - 22:20

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Thanks for all your honest replies and advice.

I bought the Assos cream with tentaive thoughts of needing some form of emergency removal/cleaning facility on the first application, but I neednt have worried.

I applied the cream to my pad as well as directly to the hotspots I get. Felt that cooling sensation some have described in various ways, which is really a menthos cooling, nothing else.

This increased once I put the shorts on but again, nothing to worry about, just noticable.

I use, this was the best thing since the wheel itself!

I rode a 60mile sportive with a small group of riders at almost a race pace...typical of sportives but with the headwind on the day I wasnt for going it alone so suffered to hold the wheels.

With all the effort I put in and the fact that I rode 45miles non-stop/flat out, I was expecting to be in real pain but when I did stop, I realised that I only suffered from minor tiredness around the sitbones.

In fact, this actually allowed me to find a decent position on the saddle so i could concentrate on my pedal stroke better. I can safely say my saddle isnt right for me but positioning ive got spot on, need one of those relief saddles for the perinium area.

Amazed how ive suffered for over 20 years without this stuff.

Not just a convert, a preacher!

posted by Farky [179 posts]
19th March 2012 - 14:44

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Good to see you've got a result. Just out of interest, what was the elapsed time for the sportive? I've not done one yet, and am curious to know how quick the faster groups go round. Was it a very hilly course?

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3096 posts]
21st March 2012 - 12:28

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I use Deep Heat, because I'm a badass.

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

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posted by Cooks [483 posts]
22nd March 2012 - 22:51

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@cooks - not as hard core as winter green Devil

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posted by giff77 [1048 posts]
23rd March 2012 - 1:01

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Reviving the dead... with a bit of my own experience that practically changed my life!

Cycling every day as a commute, without a great saddle for many years, left me a bit, well, itchy. It'd come and go in intensity, but it was always there. I linked it to cycling, but treated it with doctors' advice as a skin condition. Nothing helped.

I don't remember how I discovered it, but after wading through what I believe to be one of the worst designed sites on the internet I got a psoriasis cream from an Australian pharmacist. The goop was super goopy, thick, oily, and I applied it morning and night for about 2 months but again, never in relation to my riding.

What was once a burning, constant irritation has now entirely cleared up. And yeah, I hadn't tried any of the chamois creams on offer, they're probably still great and performing a fairly different task. I thought I'd have this itch for life, 'cause I wasn't about to give up my trusty steed(s)!

Anyway, google for David Hosking's Psorexaderm, I promise nothing other than the veracity of my personal joy at this amazing product (that I no longer need to use at all). Best thing I've ever done.

(and yeah, it's my first post, and I'm mentioning a product positively. I clearly don't know how to sound less believable o_o )

posted by imagesurgery [1 posts]
24th April 2014 - 18:20

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If it's not been mentioned already - one of the best tips I was given ever was for the use of Tea Tree Oil post ride, or even a Tea Tree Oil shower gel. It's got mega antibac properties so if there's any developing nips or bumps it does a really good job of calming them.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~
Manx nerd peddler ~

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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
25th April 2014 - 9:13

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Asoss cream, applied generously is great at preventing painful butt syndrome.

I was sceptical but tried it after a friend suggested it and never looked back.

I'm sure all the brands are very similar in effect but the Asoss was the first one I bought and works so I'm sticking with it.

One word of caution - be careful not to get it on your dot by accident!

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posted by chrisp1973 [57 posts]
25th April 2014 - 9:25

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This 'sit bones' stuff is just a load of old bollocks, really. Saddle manufacturers could learn a lot from rowing boat seat manufacturers.

posted by andyp [860 posts]
25th April 2014 - 9:54

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I use Chamois Butt'r - really like it. Also got some of the sachets for jersey pockets.

I did the Ronde Van Vlaanderen this year (full distance) and I reapplied using the sachet around halfway. Fresh and pain free at the end.

Conversely I did the Lionheart a couple of weeks before and forgot to put any on, pain.

The Chapeau white tube one is good too, same consistency as Chamois Butt'r but with menthol in which is nice if you're already in discomfort.

posted by turboprannet [49 posts]
25th April 2014 - 10:35

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In reverse order.

I find that the chamois/pads do loose effectiveness especially if you drive to and from events in them. Washing also helps the longevity. I'm guessing here, but I would say most good shorts these days are synthetic pads rather than old washing leather style. All of mine are anyway, as a result I apply cream to skin not the pad. This stops sweat from infecting the pores and works for me. Itried rubbing into short but found it uncomfortable.

Leading onto which one. Assos is very good but pricey, Chamois buttr was just as good and cheaper. Currently using Blue Steel from Planet X as it has tea tree oil. Really like it. Small amount did the meduim ride of Flanders another application did the full Paris-Roubaix. The Blue steel can also be used after ride to clear anything up. Seems to do the job. But there again I haven't done the Roubiax or FLanders without creme to compare without.

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [290 posts]
25th April 2014 - 12:52

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Rapha. I like my nether regions smelling of Alpine flora.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
25th April 2014 - 13:24

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I bought a bulk lot of Enzo's Buttonhole Cream which I wear on rides over 4 hours or on shorter rides if it's warm.

I apply it liberally to the pad and then take a couple of sachets with me just in case.

Post ride I use the Doris's Elizabeth Arden 8hr cream.

Pain is just the French word for bread.

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posted by S13SFC [88 posts]
25th April 2014 - 15:46

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+1 for Enzo's and tea tree oil. Enzo's prevents friction from developing and the mint is very pleasant smelling and slightly tingly but no burning like some of the menthol-based creams. Tea tree oil like mooleur says for post-ride prevention--hate the smell of it though.

Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling. ~James E. Starrs

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posted by movingtarget [134 posts]
25th April 2014 - 16:36

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the Rapha stuff smells great and does a good job but it is v pricey for what it is. The Assos stuff is great. Can't go wrong- slap some on your...assos! Big Grin

Philly Applause

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posted by philly [16 posts]
25th April 2014 - 19:41

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Re: AndyP
I'd say it is the other way round: the seats in our eight are awful, even with the cut-outs.

posted by pdf500 [13 posts]
25th April 2014 - 19:56

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Cooks wrote:
I use Deep Heat, because I'm a badass.

For you badasses toothpaste works a treat Devil

Seriously though +1 for sudocreme. Haven't tried any specialist creme though.

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posted by brokenorange [15 posts]
25th April 2014 - 20:40

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I use Morgan Blue Solid. Basically a big medicated jar of vaseline. Apply to sit bones and either side of neither regions. Keeps working even on longer 100k plus rides.

They Made Me Do It!

posted by Oscarzero [18 posts]
26th April 2014 - 12:29

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Just sit in a bowl of vinegar, hardens the ass a treat...

posted by madonepro [34 posts]
26th April 2014 - 12:43

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madonepro wrote:
Just sit in a bowl of vinegar, hardens the ass a treat...

All that does is harden your conkers.

posted by Nick T [797 posts]
26th April 2014 - 13:01

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posted by allez neg [4 posts]
26th April 2014 - 21:39

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Handcream works just as well, and is a tenth of the price of "Beurre pour le Derrière" or whatever they're flogging it as nowadays. Just don't let your wife find any short and curlies in the tin.

posted by chokofingrz [284 posts]
27th April 2014 - 11:48

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Have tried a variety of different brands but keep going back to Assos. Seems to have the "right" texture and there's nothing like that fresh feeling when you step out the door having just applied it (maybe it's the witch hazel that gives it that tingle).

There was a good article on cycling news many years ago (2006) by Keith Bontrager (you can google it) on the subject. As well as a cheap home made variety ("a large vat of petroleum jelly with some antibiotic ointment and some pain reliever") he gives tips on how much to use (basically, lots: "[s]mear the stuff onto the chamois in a large quantity - three fingers worth, minimum. It should feel weird when you put you shorts on. That won't matter. But you want it to last all day, so you need a lot. That's why I don't want to use any expensive Swiss stuff. It would cost a fortune.").

posted by surly_by_name [142 posts]
27th April 2014 - 22:56

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...soaked in vinegar...just like conkers...hardens them puppies up no end...
(Actually use Assos, wouldn't be without the 'chilling breeze' effect it has on the old nads area)..just be mindful of the puckered sphincter reaction it seems to have...


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posted by The _Kaner [409 posts]
28th April 2014 - 14:59

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I've only ever used Vaseline, purely because that's what I had in the house. It served me well enough on the century ride I did in the autumn.

I think that a large part of being comforatable is to do with saddle selection and set-up. I haven't been riding much road lately but a couple of weeks ago did about 35miles on a run out without any sort of cream or lube and didn't encounter any real discomfort. I'm incluined to think that if you are getting sore/uncomforatable after a couple of hours or less the way your bike is set up or your choice of saddle might need a little tweaking. Doubtless a cream will help but it might be treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

Using nappy rash cream after a ride makes a lot of sense. Some of the downstairs issues cyclists can suffer with are essentially nappy rash, especially if you get wet on a long ride. I occasionally get infected pores, but I suspect its more closely related to my job, which sees me sitting at a desk or in the car most of the time.

posted by Matt eaton [395 posts]
28th April 2014 - 16:19

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For time trials and the longer Audax events, I always used the following "recipe".

Mix 25 parts Johnsons baby lotion to one part Savlon, using an electric whisk.
Apply to real chamois 24 hours before event.
Store in plastic bag to prevent dust or other contamination from landing on chamois.
Add more of this solution immediately prior to event.
Apply E45 librally to skin.

In my experience, this combination has always been good for at least 24 hours, and cheap too.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
28th April 2014 - 17:32

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I've used the Assos Chammy cream - very good, but expensive and am currently using Butt'r. No complaints about it...

I only put it on my 'sit' area/derrière where I contact the seat. A good dolloping and it definitely saves my butt from chafing...

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

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posted by jmaccelari [151 posts]
28th April 2014 - 19:28

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Waitrose baby bottom butter and a bit of sudocrem on occasion. Possibly this is due to having had a baby in the house than any other reason but works a treat.

posted by BigAl68 [33 posts]
29th April 2014 - 7:53

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I've never used any in getting on for 30 years. I have very sensitive skin and just about anything can give me eczema, so smearing some unknown cream around my nether regions is a gamble for me! I dare say oilatum, diprobase, cetraben etc would probably work okay for those with eczema.

However with non budget shorts (i.e. approx £50 upwards) and a saddle that suits (in my case either a Brooks B17N or a Fizik Arione depending on which bike I take out) I can be out all day without discomfort, other than my legs being knackered! Maybe I am lucky?

I know the old style chammies did dry out, so cream would be required to soften them. 'Modern' inserts don't have the same problem so are less demanding.

posted by Chris James [182 posts]
29th April 2014 - 9:49

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