Chamois cream: How to Use It and Why

Peter Sagan (SVK/Bora-Hansgrohe) training in the mountains of ötztal / Tirol (AUT) on the new Specialized Tarmac SL7 june 2020 ©kramon

Chamois cream, or chammy cream, a life saver for the majority of cyclists, yet hated by the exclusive group of old fashioned, hardcore riders. It’s a rather taboo subject, not many riders like to admit to lathering on the chamois cream before they head out the door. But as you find yourself clocking up the miles, you’ll be grateful if you’ve got some in the arsenal!

None the less, it can be a confusing topic. You might have just bought your first tube or tube and now find yourself wondering, what do I do next?! If you’ve ever applied chamois cream, you’ll know it’s much like eating a banana. Everyone is aware you’re doing it, but best to avoid eye contact or busy spaces… it’s quite the awkward experience.


The original chamois in cycling shorts were made of leather. Increased time in the saddle would cause the leather to harden, meaning the riders needed a cream to soften the material. Even back then a battle hardened few frowned on the idea, as they do now.

Luckily the technology in cycling shorts has progressed a lot over the last few years. They’re designed to add comfort for hours in the saddle, and limit friction to keep saddle sores to a minimum. The new technology in shorts will also help wick away moisture to keep you fresher for longer and can be washed time and time again with minimal damage.

What is Chamois Cream?

It’s an anti-bacterial cream used to reduce friction between the clothing and your skin. This will limit the amount of chaffing that occurs during a ride and means that you won’t get as many saddle sores. There are a variety of different types but is most commonly a cream.


Saddle sores can soon turn worse too, if left untreated they can become an abscess which can get quite nasty. Luckily chamois cream should stop any bacterial infections as well as eliminate the friction in the first place. If you have picked up a small saddle sore, there are plenty of skin repair products that can help you on your way.

Should You Use Chamois Cream?

Definitely! If you’re riding semi-occasionally, then you might not need it often. But if you decide to ramp up the mileage, then chamois cream can really help keep your lower regions in one piece. Even if you consider yourself an avid rider, as you increase the volume it’s definitely worth using chamois cream to keep you comfortable in the saddle.

If you’re planning on heading to a training camp or trying a long adventure ride like Lands End John O Groats, then it’ll become your best friend very quickly. Cycling consistently over that period of time is tough on everyone, no matter how well your bike fits.


Why Not Vaseline or Sudocrem?

Vaseline can achieve a similar goal, though it will quickly ruin a lot of your kit, and doesn’t have any anti-bacterial qualities. Sometimes you see triathletes using vaseline so it doesn’t wash off in the swim, though to ensure you don’t get any build ups of bacteria chamois cream is certainly the best option.

Giant 2021 TCR

Sudocreme is an antiseptic healing cream, again it will stick to a lot of the kit you have even after washing, but it makes for a fantastic option if you’ve picked up a saddle sore after the ride. It’s not created with a specific anti-friction goal in mind.


How To Apply Chamois Cream

Chamois cream is best applied to both your body and the contact points with the saddle. (not actually on the saddle though) – apply it to your body in the areas you think you’ll get the most friction. You can also apply it direction to the pad in these areas. If they’re a pair of shorts you use a lot then you might see particular points of wear, these are always great to notice and apply chammy cream as it’s likely they’re the areas rubbing the most on the saddle. If in doubt just put a little more on than you should, more cream means you’re less likely to get sore, but don’t completely over do it!

Make sure you wash your kit after every ride to ensure that the area is clean and dry, as well as getting in the shower as soon as possible. Sitting around in dirty kit can cause a build up of bacteria in the chamois, and it’s really bad for your skin!

You can’t go too far wrong with applying chamois cream, just be sure that you don’t mix it up with the deep heat or leg warm up cream, because then you’re in for a long ride home.