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’ or chamois, 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!
When To Apply Chamois Cream
Chamois cream works best when applied before your ride but it can also be super handy to have a small stash with you so you can reapply during your ride too. Especially if it’s gonna be a long day in the saddle.
If you have external pressure points or sore on your sit bones use a Compeed blister plaster for a few days (apply before chamois cream), which is slightly padded and is hydrocolloidal (biodegradable, breathable, and adheres to the skin) so you can continue to ride in relative comfort.
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. I’ve asked around to find out what everyone thinks is the best chamois cream for women out there. 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 (also comes in this handy size)
- Premax Chamois Cream for Women
- Bepanthen Ointment
- Paceline Chamois Butt’r
- Udderly Smooth Chamois Cream*
- HOOHA Ride Glide
- Doublebase Gel (as used by British Cycling Teams – also available at your local pharmacy)
- VeloSkin Premium 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.
Make Your Own Chamois Cream
If you fancy having a go at making your own chamois cream, it’s not too hard a task.
“I made my own with a mixture of shea and coconut oil. It’s a good option as you can add your own tea tree oil and you’re sure nothing else is in it!”Rebecca
Try experimenting with a mix of shea butter, coconut oil and tea tree oil. Melt the shea butter and coconut oil together then remove from the heat and allow to cool before adding the tea tree oil. Pop it in the freezer for up to 20minutes, then give it a good stir until you’re happy with the consistency.
You can store it in an empty peanut butter jar, or one of those re-useable travel jars.
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.
Could Your Saddle Issues Be Menopause Related?
If you are peri-menopausal or post menopause, this can be a factor in saddle comfort due to changes in soft tissue. The elasticity of the vagina is reduced and connective tissue increases caused by a decline in Oestrogen levels. Oestrogen decline also causes a decrease in vaginal blood flow and a decrease in vaginal lubrication.
If this could be the case for you, it’s worth paying a visit to your GP who can prescribe you vaginal pessaries containing Oestrogen and a cream which has been designed specifically for labial soft tissue. You’ll use these in addition to the chamois cream of your choice for ultimate comfort.
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?!