Now ladies, if you need to have a giggle before you read this, please do. But from here on in, we’re gonna chat openly and honestly about how to apply chamois cream.
What is Chamois Cream?
Let’s start with the basics, like what on earth is this stuff?! Then we’ll move on to what we are supposed to do with it! Basically, the pad that you find in your cycling shorts is known as a ‘chammy’ and even though it starts off nice and soft, once you’ve worn and washed it a few times it tends to get a little bit uncomfortable. So in came the chamois cream to give it back some softness, help reduce the chafing therefore reducing the chances of you getting saddle sores in your nether regions when you start to up your mileage on the bike.
It comes in a variety of forms but in a nutshell, it should be anti-bacterial and kinda sticky to alleviate friction between your skin and clothing (especially seams). And yes, you really should use it whether it’s a multi day ride (like my London to Paris adventure) or your weekend saddle time. But, how?
How To Apply Your Chamois Cream (& Where)
Right, now this is no time to be vague or anatomically confusing when we’re talking about how to apply your chamois cream and where, right? The main areas that you want to focus on are the pad in your shorts and the seams; these are the areas that are most likely to rub.
There are a few more friction / pressure points that you should also consider; these are mainly the creases where your legs and thighs meet, your inner thighs and then the visible portions of the vulva which include your labia.
Please note: DO NOT apply internally or to your inner labia especially if you’re using the menthol stuff!!
Depending on your own personal anatomy, grooming practices, saddle etc you might want to apply the chamois cream to a wider region surrounding your vulva. Do we need a picture, ladies?!
There is no real rule of thumb here; you just have to try different ways and find the one that works for you. And, APPLY GENEROUSLY!
Want Some Recommendations?
Although which chamois cream you use and love is a very personal thing, it never hurts to have a few recommendations to start with. Here are a mix of products, some specifically made as chamois creams, some not… all whilst covering a variety of price points:
- ASSOS women’s chamois cream
- Sudocrem antiseptic healing cream
- Hoo Ha Ride Glide
- Bepanthen Ointment
- Paceline Chamois Butt’r
- Udderly Smooth Chamois Cream
If buying a bigger tube / tub is more economical then you can always pick up a few travel sized pots and decant into them! They’ll fit nicely into your jersey pockets or saddle bag ready for any in-ride top ups required.
Don’t Forget To Ditch The Knickers
Gosh, I remember when I used to wear underwear with my padded cycling shorts. It’s not like it’s the first thing anyone tells you when you start cycling. In fact, I’m not even sure anyone ever told me… I might have had to figure it out myself. So, here I am, sharing this nugget of information with you. The reasons you would ditch the underwear are pretty much the same as why you should, and I hope will now, use chamois cream. It will reduce the chances of chafing, reduce the chances of any nasty bacteria causing you an infection plus the fact you won’t have to keep pulling them out from between your butt cheeks the entire time you’re on the move is an added bonus.
Other Ways To Protect Your Undercarriage
Well, here’s one I accidentally learnt the other day when I was whizzing around on a Brompton for Bike Week. Make sure your saddle isn’t tipped up. This puts pressure on your pubic bone (situated at the front) when you should be seated on your “sit bones” aka the ischial tuberosity (which is more lateral to the pubic bone)…. so check your saddle, even if you have to use a spirit level to do so.
A more robust choice would be to have a bike fit and to have some saddle mapping included. I’ve been riding on a female specific saddle (the width of our pelvis is typically bigger than a mans) and have been lucky not to have any issues. I did have a few tweaks to my bike set up before I rode to Paris as it was imperative that I would be comfortable for the entire 300km. In the many cycling chats I’m privy to I’ve also heard you can get a saddle with a shorter “nose” so check that out if you think that may help. I’d like to think that most bike shops would be able to let you test a saddle before you purchase too to help you get an idea whether or not it would be suited for you.
Tell, me what’s your favourite brand of chamois cream to use? …do you remember life before versus after? …and for those who haven’t been using it… was this all food for thought?!