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Anti-friction cream to stop your rides ending up at rock bottom

If you’re new to cycling, you may have heard talk of a mysterious preparation called chamois cream. You may have wondered what it is, but, realising that it’s something to do with your undercarriage, been too embarrassed to ask. To spare your blushes, we’re going to tell you.

The liner in cycling shorts is these days made from a sandwich of very clever foams and synthetic fabrics, designed to sit against your skin and keep you comfortable. The outer layer in particular is designed not to chafe your skin and to move with you as you pedal.

Wind the clock back 30-odd years or so and there were no fancy synthetic shorts liners. Instead, what you found when you turned your shorts inside out was a piece of soft leather, made from the skin of a chamois goat. That’s right, one of these:

Chamois goat (CC BY 2.0 Jean Latour | Flickr).jpg

Chamois goat (CC BY 2.0 Jean Latour | Flickr).jpg

Chamois goat (CC BY 2.0 Jean Latour | Flickr)

The problem with a leather lining is that it relies on the natural oils in the leather for its softness and comfort. Washing — especially machine washing — removes those oils, so you have to replace them. That’s where original chamois cream came in. It was a goop that replaced the oils in chamois leather, keeping it soft so you could wear it against your skin, and stopping it from cracking.

A useful side-effect of chamois cream was that it provided a layer of lubrication on top of the leather that further helped prevent chafing. Even though there’s no need to treat modern pads with chamois cream to keep them supple, it can be useful to keep you comfortable.

There are three situations when chamois cream is particularly useful: for very long rides;  for indoor training, where you're on the saddle almost all the time; and for returning to cycling after a few weeks off.

When you ride, your skin adapts to the pressure of your weight on the saddle and toughens up. If you take a break from cycling your skin returns to its original softness, at least partially. Chamois cream helps keep your bits comfy until they toughen up again.

A ride substantially longer than you usually do is similar. Your undercarriage may be toughened up for 50- or 60-mile rides and you may have done enough training you’re confident of completing a century, but the extra distance can make you sore enough that the last few miles are no fun at all. Chamois cream to the rescue, preventing a sore bottom.

Chamois creams also contain anti-bacterial and anti-fungal ingredients to help reduce the likelihood of skin infections. Basic hygiene helps too — get out of your shorts and get showered as soon as possible after a ride; always wash shorts between wears — but an extra line of protection against the dreaded saddle sores can’t hurt.

Chamois cream brands tend to come and go, but to give you a feel for what's out there, here are some of our favourites.

Paceline Chamois Butt'r Her — £15.99

Paceline Products Chamois Buttr Her.jpg

Paceline Products Chamois Buttr Her.jpg

​Paceline Products Chamois Butt'r Her' is the women's version of the original Chamois Butt'r skin lubricant, which has been soothing and softening men's bits and bottoms since 1993. The Her' cream shares some of the key ingredients – aloe vera to soothe irritated skin, vitamins A and E – but is pH balanced specifically for ladies, so you can put it 'everywhere' and there's no tingling sensation (which you may see as a good or bad thing).

It also shares the same price as the men's, and is very good value compared to the likes of Assos Chamois Creme Woman, especially considering you can find the 235ml (8 fl oz) tube discounted from the £15.99 RRP.

Read our review of Paceline Chamois Butt'r Her
Find a Paceline dealer

Veloskin Chamois Cream — £14

Veloskin Chamois Cream.jpg

Veloskin Chamois Cream.jpg

VeloSkin Chamois Cream is a thick, luxurious skin treatment that smells great and holds up on long rides. If you're a fan of chamois creams, you should try this. It feels like a real top-end luxury item. The smart black metal pot holds the most wonderfully thick, luxuriant paste I've ever smeared onto my nethers. The scent is distinctive and pleasing, with a good dose of bergamot – a key ingredient in true Eau de Cologne, it is worth remembering, so at the very least it should lend your shorts an olfactory touch of class.

Read our review of Veloskin Chamois Cream
Find a Veloskin dealer

2Toms Buttshield — £15

2Toms Butt Shield.jpg

2Toms Butt Shield.jpg

2Toms Buttshield is a very, very good chamois cream, although it's not really a cream and more of a liquid. It's odourless, goes on without any mess and, thanks to the application method of rolling a thin film on the skin, there's no chance of over lubing. Buttshield is very smooth and silky to the touch and doesn't feel in any way unpleasantly clammy or sticky once it's in place down where it needs to be.

And once Buttshield is there it stays down there, even over the longest rides. Despite not being able to feel it between your legs (a good thing) it does work (also a good thing), preventing rubbing and soreness for whatever length ride you choose to be on.

Read our review of 2Toms Butt Shield

Bikemonger's Happy Bottom Bum Butter — £17.99

Bikemonger's Happy Bottom Bum Butter - Open Tub.jpg

Bikemonger's Happy Bottom Bum Butter - Open Tub.jpg

Bikemonger's Happy Bottom Bum Butter is a distinctly different unguent for down below, more a wax than a cream, but it nevertheless lubes your bits really well and lasts a long time.

Happy Bottom Bum Butter is not your normal kind of chamois cream, not just because it's hand produced in Dorset just up the road from Charlie the Bikemonger's shop, and not because it's completely chemical free, made from 100% natural ingredients and also vegan friendly.

It isn't a cream, or even very much like butter – well, maybe butter from the fridge as it's very solid in consistency, firmer even than lip balm, more like surf wax according to those who know such things.

Read our review of Bikemonger's Happy Bottom Bum Butter

Muc-Off Luxury Chamois Cream — £13.99

Muc-Off Luxury Chamois Cream .jpg

Muc-Off Luxury Chamois Cream .jpg

Muc-Off's Luxury Chamois Cream performs really well. That's the bottom line here. When it comes to the other kind of bottom line – the financial kind – you might be put off by the £20 RRP. That's assuming you buy it for the full retail price, though: shop around.

Muc-Off's formulation is anti-bacterial (containing aloe vera and witch hazel) and has a ‘mild cooling function’ – a bit tingly but nothing like some I've tried. It's pleasant enough when applied.

Once it's there, it stays there and does a good job of staving off any chafing from your shorts.

Read our review of Muc-Off Luxury Chamois Cream
Find a Muc-Off dealer

Assos Chamois Crème (140ml) — £11.49

Assos Chamois Creme.jpg

Assos Chamois Creme.jpg

A mainstay of many cyclists' bathroom cabinets, Assos chamois cream is a classic that basically Just Works. It's durable, thick but spreadable and has a minty smell that translates into an, ahem, interesting cooling sensation as a well-prepped pad contacts your bits.

Read our review of the Assos Chamois Creme (140ml)
Find an Assos dealer

Sportique Century Riding Cream (180ml) — £11.99

Sportique Century riding cream.jpg

Sportique Century riding cream.jpg

If you're a fan of long hours in the saddle then you've probably got a favourite chamois cream already. Even if you swear by one particular unguent or another, you should give this Sportique Century Riding Cream a go. Because it's brilliant.

t's incredibly tenacious. You stick this on your pad and it'll still be there when you get off the bike, no matter how long that is. Even after 15 straight hours in the saddle on a warm day it was doing the business. No chafing, no soreness, no nothing.

Read our review of the Sportique Century Riding Cream (180ml)

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55 comments

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stem [40 posts] 2 years ago
4 likes

Sudocrem seems to do the job for me.

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rjfrussell [480 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

I was just going to ask, apart from the price tag, is there any difference between any of these products and sudocrem 

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darrylxxx [90 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

What's wrong with a dollop of butter? Or marg if you're not wanting full fat?

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fukawitribe [2448 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
rjfrussell wrote:

I was just going to ask, apart from the price tag, is there any difference between any of these products and sudocrem 

As a parent and hence great admirer and user of Sudocrem, E45 and the like - yes, there is a difference IMO although the prices of some of these is frankly bonkers.

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CXR94Di2 [2120 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Suducrem is very sticky but does work. Chamois cream I find is better, I apply some to the padding and the rest to delicate parts, for many hours comfortable saddle time

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gunswick [131 posts] 2 years ago
5 likes

Sudocrem is an extringrnt, which means it will dry your skin out. Bepanthan is a better cream for that purpose and would work well as a chamois cream, it is longer lasting and better in sweat or wet conditions than sudocrem because it is more oily. Personally though, just use chamois crème. I use the assos one twice a day for commuting through winter and a tub lasts 6 months (mine is close to running out after starting to use in October). I do 140 miles a week, 1 hour each way (10 hours a week).

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Pipeyrw [3 posts] 2 years ago
4 likes

Helpful article, as an ex-MTBer I was never quite sure what the "application protocol" was.  Having only applied directly to bot/nads up to this point, there is a simpler way.  You learn something every day.

 

 

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hampstead_bandit [614 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

if you read the instructions on many chamois cream packages, it says "not to be applied to mucous membranes" (I think we can guess what those are...)

this means chamois cream should only be applied to the 'cheeks' of your buttocks, rather than more intimate areas

I'd suggest using something like Savlon if required on those intimate areas, and chamois cream for the rest?

 

there was no mention of the differences between men's and women's chamois creams in the article, Elite for example do a women's version which does not contain menthol or other irritants

 

a great tip given to me by a pro cyclist some years back was to use wet wipes after visiting the toilet, especially before application of chamois cream, as dry toilet paper often leaves faecal matter on your behind, and you don't want that on your shorts when doing 100km

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rtw [42 posts] 2 years ago
5 likes
stem wrote:

Sudocrem seems to do the job for me.

Really? Sudocrem is a water resistant protective cream, making a layer which is inpregnable to moisture. Great for protecting against nappy rash, but also prone to blocking pores in a sweaty saddle environment. I'm surprised that your experience is good!

Avatar
. . [192 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes
Pipeyrw wrote:

Having only applied directly to bot/nads up to this point, there is a simpler way.  You learn something every day.

I found out the hard way that applying only to the pad doesn't work.  (Look away now if squeamish).  I get sores along the crease between cheek and thigh.  It needs direct application well beyond the width of the pad.

As an aside, I use chamois cream to prevent jogger's nipple too.

Interesting that road.cc rates Century Cream.  I was given a free sample, but for me it wasn't even good for a half-Century.    I'm strictly Assos now..

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Rhode_Long [16 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes
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StraelGuy [1444 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Ooo arrrhg, moi luvverrr! Actually looks pretty good...

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kil0ran [924 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

Old country remedy - udder mint. Anti bac, cooling, cheap, designed to prevent sores on cow boobs, will lubricate and prevent your delicate areas from cracking. Somewhat tingly when first applied so use sparingly.

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Northumber_lad [3 posts] 2 years ago
5 likes

I must have missed the bit in the article where it told us where to apply the cream. So much for a beginners guide! I've only used it a couple of times, not noticed much difference. I got a free sample of some Rapha stuff and I applied it to cheeks, nuts and pad - other than a legendary cold feeling (think the opposite to deep heat) I can't say chamois cream has made any difference to me.

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roeboy [15 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Vaseline works for me

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sanderville [350 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes
Northumber_lad wrote:

I must have missed the bit in the article where it told us where to apply the cream.

They never do in these articles anywhere.  They all shy away from saying that you need to get it right in your cracks where the skin rubs.  It's a lubricant so put it where you need lubricating.  There's a comment above about putting it on one's buttocks, but why?  What on earth do your buttocks rub against while cycling?

My favourite brand is Udderly Smooth.

Apart from lubrication the absolute top tip about avoiding sores and jock itch - which I've never seen mentioned in the cycling press - is making your own colloidal silver and spraying it on the same crevices with a cheap kitchen spray bottle.  An ounce of 99.9% pure silver can cost as little as £12 and will last for ever in making colloidal silver, then you need a few spent AA batteries from remote controls around the house, about £8's worth of battery holder, crocodile clips and wire from Maplin, a big glass coffee jar, some distilled water from Halfords, and you'll be able to make a lifetime's supply of safe antibacterial/fungicide that will keep you free of jock itch, athlete's foot, etc., as well as having loads of other germ-killing uses.

Many expensive cycling shorts mention that their chamois contain anti-bacterial silver but you can make your own colloidal silver for virtually nothing and use it wherever you don't want bacteria.

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spacedyemeerkat [21 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Another vote for Udderly Smooth as being a great nut butter. I smear it everywhere, paying close attention to my... um... taint.

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sanderville [350 posts] 2 years ago
18 likes
hampstead_bandit wrote:

if you read the instructions on many chamois cream packages, it says "not to be applied to mucous membranes" (I think we can guess what those are...)

this means chamois cream should only be applied to the 'cheeks' of your buttocks, rather than more intimate areas

 

I think you have confused the words "intimate" and "inside".  The mucus membranes referred to are inside your anus.  Don't stick chamois cream up your bumhole.  That's what it means.  The parabens in chamois cream are not good for you when absorbed internally.

No part of your epidermis is a mucus membrane so it's fine to rub chamois cream into your groinal crevices.

If you need internal lubrication while cycling then I really think you should switch to using a saddle.

 

 

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surly_by_name [570 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
sanderville wrote:

groinal crevices

That's cheered me up no end.

Keith Bontrager on chamois creme from about a decade ago (still worth a read): http://autobus.cyclingnews.com/riders/2006/diaries/keith/?id=keith0606

This bit stuck in my memory (and not just because KB misspelt Coucheval):

"The trick to effective lubrication for a long stage is to use a lot.. Smear 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. The quantity thing came from an observation I made at the TdF in 2000. I was walking around in the pits on a rest day in Courchavel, France with some German journalists, weighing bikes. I noticed a lot of saddles were glistening, covered with fat. I'd been playing with chamois preps for the TransAlp, and had moderate success with them. But the appearance of the pros' saddles gave it away. They used copious quantities of the stuff."

"Weird when you put your shorts on" is what I am aiming for.

 

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Speet0 [14 posts] 2 years ago
4 likes
sanderville]</p>

<p>[quote=hampstead_bandit

wrote:

 

If you need internal lubrication while cycling then I really think you should switch to using a saddle.

 

 

 

Cracked me up, thank you!

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dafyddp [461 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes

At £90/Kg the Purple Harry stuff is roughly twice the price of organic fillet steak, which funnily enough was exactly what the old pros used to sling down their shorts back in the day.

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StraelGuy [1444 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes
Quote:

Don't stick chamois cream up your bumhole.

I think the mucous membranes bit probably applies to women using it. I doubt many cyclists manage to apply it, errrmmm, internally.

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Ducci [97 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I'm a fan of the Morgan Blue solid chamois cream, it's akin to beeswax which may be close to the truth! Particularly good for wet rides.

Avatar
SevenHills [247 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes
Speet0]</p>

<p>[quote=sanderville

wrote:
hampstead_bandit wrote:

 

If you need internal lubrication while cycling then I really think you should switch to using a saddle.

 

 

 

Cracked me up, thank you!

Rather that than "up me crack!"

 

Sorry I'll get me coat.

Avatar
Simmo72 [699 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Must try one of these specialist products one day, but coco butter (the hard stuff) works wonders, and it is cheap as chips.

 

If you do have any sores, then metanium (nappy rash cream) works wonders.  Caution, you only need a pea sized amount unless you want to cover your entire body.  Much better than Sudocrem which blocks pores.

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ianrparsons [18 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Tried Udderly, wife also nabbed some for her sewing! Looked at the ingredients, almost identical to Cetraben emolloient cream which I happen to get on prescription. It isonly about £7 for a 500gm dispenser and is a moisturiser that lubes your rear end rather well. As some suggest you can put loads on, very good when I am on hols in SW France, stands the heat well. Also means you are not putting any additional medications on as with Metanium and sudocreme etc. Does give a temporary watrming sensation at first to sensitive skin, but that rapidly passes.

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jasecd [523 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Bought a few tubs of Areo from planet X as it was only £2 - each tub has lasted 6 months and apart from the menthol I can't feel much difference from the Assos stuff I used to buy for five times the price.

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cycleofaddiction [7 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I've started using Crotch Guard, it's an oil specially formulated for long days in the saddle. I can say for me it's been a revelation and I know others say similar. I've never been as comfortable after hours in the saddle with chamois cream as I have with Crotch Guard. It's easier to apply as you just give a couple of squirts from the bottle and you don't get any of the cold damp clammy feeling you get from chamois cream, I can't praise this product enough it's really been that good for me. It's only available direct from the US but they have just announced a deal with a UK distributor.

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ped [297 posts] 2 years ago
4 likes
hampstead_bandit wrote:

I'd suggest using something like Savlon on those intimate areas … 

That really doesn't seem like a good idea to me. Or my arse.

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1330 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
sanderville wrote:

If you need internal lubrication while cycling then I really think you should switch to using a saddle.

 

 

I did once have a saddle issue, trying to ride up a ridiculously steep ramp, ran out of momentum couldn't reach the ground.

(Mountain bike)

Became quite intimate with my saddle. Still such a freak occurence, don't think I'd put chamois cream there, just in case.

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