For the past few months we’ve been testing three different chamois creams: Beljum Budder, DZ Nuts and Chamois Butt’r’s new Eurostyle. We had three testers, two guys and one girl, use each for a number of rides to see how they held up on long and short rides, in warm and cold weather.
They all have their merits, but our riders had very different opinions on which ones they liked best and why.
Read on to see what they said, and to see what ingredients like Hamamelis Virginiana, Shinus Mole Fruit, Quercus Alba, Evodia and Masterwort are (and why they’re in the creams!)…
First up, here’s a quick look at each product with tester comments. Click on the images to enlarge to read the ingredients. Scroll all the way down for descriptions of each ingredient…there’s some crazy stuff in these things.
- Size: 8oz
- MSRP: $19.00
- Smell: Basically Odorless, slight general “cream” smell
- Consistency: Cool Butter
- Tyler’s Comments: This is the only one without any sort of menthol feeling, which was nice on cold days, and it seemed more natural than the others. Perhaps because it had the shortest ingredient list or because didn’t have that menthol odor, I felt comfortable using this one in a pinch as lip balm and hand cream. As for performance on the bike, it seemed to last just fine for a three hour ride and easily washed off me and the chamois afterward. I didn’t get any soreness or chafing when using it. Beljum Budder was my favorite.
- Ashley’s Comments: This cream had no noticeable odor, but proved greasy in application. While I didn’t suffer any chafing during my ride, the cream didn’t seem to have the “staying powers” I noticed in the others. I don’t know if I’d trust this one on long rides (or in a triathlon). Basically, I could take it or leave it for shorter trips. If it did help, I don’t know if it was worth the greasy hands.
- Rob’s Comments: Product worked well and was easy to apply. It rubbed on very easily and the product was not greasy or smelly like some other chamois creams on the market. Product worked for entire 3hr road bike ride on a day that was very cold (40 degrees) and drizzling. I could still feel the product on my skin after I finished the ride and changed clothes. The product works very well and the fact that it was not tested on animals will appeal to some people. One note, a little of the product goes a long way! If you used the same amount as with traditional chamois creams it will feel like you are trying to rub in lots of cream based sunscreen on your body. This was my favorite of the three products because it works and it has a no nonsense natural approach to the product without a lot of fancy marketing speech.
- Size: 4oz
- MSRP: $22.00
- Smell: Like Vicks Vaporub
- Consistency: Warm Butter
- Tyler’s Comments: The first time I put this one, it felt like putting Icy Hot on my junk…dude, it burned for about five minutes while I jumped around shouting “what the deuce!” After that, it had a slight cooling sensation like the Chamois Butt’r Eurostyle (or like Assos’ chamois cream). Oddly, on subsequent uses, I did not feel the same intense burning sensation, but it still made itself known. The marketing on this one is certainly the most entertaining, and the website does a great job of making you feel good about using this product…the list of ingredients they WON’T use is pretty long and admirable. But, in the end, it performed only as well as the others did for me, and it’s more than twice as expensive. Even though I liked the ingredient profile, it’s probably not what I would buy.
- Ashley’s Comments: At first, I was put off by the rather strong “medicinal smell.” However, my opinion changed upon feeling the whipped texture. In application, there was an immediate cooling sensation… which I can see some people liking, while turning some off. I experienced no chafing during my ride and could still feel the cooling effects of the cream at the end of the ride! This cream is for you IF you don’t mind the odor (which is not bad, just noticeable) and want to feel the cooling sensation. This was my favorite.
- Rob’s Comments: It rubbed on very easily, but frankly I could not tell the difference between using it and not using it on a two hour road ride. The product works just as well as any other on the market today. I am not sure if the fact I could not tell it was working was a good or a bad thing? My personal opinion is that DZ is just using his new porn star bad boy image to sell some licensed products, but who can blame him. The name and marketing surrounding the product appeals to the typical smart ass cyclist. My only concern with the product would be that it contains tee tree products. This is a type of hippy gasoline and if you ever have an open sore or cracked skin this stuff will burn like fire! Also, the product comes in a tube which in my opinion makes it harder to get the last bit of product out; unlike a tub (like the Chamois Butt’r). Boy, I need to step down off my soap box now.
Chamois Butt’r Eurostyle
- Size: 8oz
- MSRP: $20.00
- Smell: Weak Vick Vaporub
- Consistency: Whipped Butter
- Tyler’s Comments: Chamois Butt’r is the standby. It’s been around forever, but their Eurostyle is new for 2008 and combines Menthol with Witch Hazel and Brazilian Peppertree Oil for a cooling effect. I’ve used Assos before, and this had a similar effect, only milder. On cold days, the cooling might have been a bit much at the start of the ride, but I did notice that if I stopped feeling the cooling “tingle” on a ride, it meant things were getting a bit numb down there and I had better shift around on the seat or stand for a bit. The result is I felt a little fresher after a ride than with the others, and there was no noticeable chafing or discomfort, and this was a close second behind Beljum Budder for me.
- Ashley’s Comments: This cream also had a noticeable smell. The texture was on the thicker side, but provided nice (but not too strong) cooling sensation. The ride left me with no chafing… but, I could feel the cream there. I’d predict this cream could go the distance on long rides (or in triathlon chamois, which need to withstand the swim). The cooling feeling lasted long after I got off the saddle.
- Rob’s Comments: Product worked well and I did not have any irritation even though I had recently had a saddle sore. It’s thick like cake batter, however it was very easy to apply. It rubbed on very easily and the product wasn’t greasy. It had a medicine type smell, but I am accustomed to this because I currently use Assos chamois cream. The medicine smell probably comes from their use of menthol in the product. The product worked for entire 3hr mtn bike ride on a day that started very cold and quickly turned hot once the sun came out. I could still feel the product on my skin after I finished the ride and changed clothes. I am not sure about the website’s claim of a cooling and soothing effect, but the product worked well for me.
Based on the various comments from our testers, there’s no conclusive winner or loser here. All of the products worked well enough, so it basically comes down to your preference in texture, cooling sensation and ingredient selection. The three brands tested span the range of cooling, from none with Beljum Budder to fairly strong with DZ Nutz and Chamois Butt’r Eurostyle pleasantly in the middle.
The ingredients for each brand are listed below along with a brief description and explanation of why they are likely included.
- Cetearyl Alcohol – A fatty alcohol that isn’t really an alcohol, has moisturizing (ie. emolient) properties and adds thickness to the formula.
- Decyl Oleate – A synthetic emolient that’s an ester of oleic acid (found in olive and grapeseed oils, among others), made by combining an alcohol with the acid.
- Emulsifying Wax NF – Made by combining a wax (either vegetable or petroleum-based) with a detergent (like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate). Not sure what the sources of the wax are in this one. The “NF” stands for National Formulary.
- Behentrimonium – A wax-like organic compound that is used in cosmetics as an anti-static and disinfectant.
- Glycerine – Used to improve smoothness and has moisturizing properties. Just be careful, it can be a laxative if it’s, uh, introduced into the, um, you know. Serves as a substitute for petroleum products.
- Quercus Alba (White Oak) Bark Extract – has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Applied topically, astringents can dry, harden and protect the skin.
- Hamamalis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Distillate – An antiseptic that can have soothing properties.
- Prunus Amydalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond Oil) – Skin lubricant and moisturizer.
- Vitamin E – An antioxidant that may help speed wound healing.
- Phenoxyethanol – A preservative that is primarily used in cosmetics and medications.
- Benzethonium Chloride – A topical antimicrobial agent in first aid antiseptics.
- Zea Mays (Corn) Oil – A moisturizing oil.
- Vitamin A – An antioxidant that may help maintain skin health.
- Vitamin D2 – May help condition skin.
- Glycerin– Used to improve smoothness and has moisturizing properties. Just be careful, it can be a laxative if it’s, uh, introduced into the, um, you know. Serves as a substitute for petroleum products.
- Ozokerite– is a naturally-occurring odoriferous mineral wax or paraffin that also substitutes for petroleum products and has a higher melting point than most petroleum waxes. Production fell off as more products started using petro-based ingredients, but it is still favored for some applications, such as electrical insulators and candles, or in extra-soft paper tissues.
- Cetearyl Alcohol– It is used in many cosmetics as an emollient, thickening agent, moisturizer, emulsifier, stabilizer, opacifier as well as a carrying agent for other ingredients.
- Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Wood Extract– Popular in medicine up to 1920-1930, mostly as an urogenital (internal) and skin (external) antiseptic. Its main component beta-santalol (~90%) has antimicrobial properties.
- Phellodendrom Amurense Bark Extract – spelled wrong on box, should be Phellodendron. Common name: Amur Cork Tree Bark probably used as an anti-bacterial, but mostly taken internally common in Chinease herbalism…can be toxic and should not be taken during pregnancy–don’t know if this applies to external use.
- Hordeum Distichon (Barley) Extract– possibly reduces inflammation.
- Polyglyceryl-10 Pentastearate – Emulsifier
- Behenyl Alcohol – Semisynthetic compound. Function: Emollient / Moisturiser
- Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate – A synthetic compound derived from fatty acids. Function: Emulsifier
- Stearic Acid – Obtained from natural fats and oils, notably beef tallow. Function: Emollient / Emulsifier / Emulsion stabiliser
- Glyceryl Stearate – Synthetic compound derived from glycerin and fatty acids. Function: Emollient / Moisturiser / Emulsifier
- Olive Fruit Unsaponifiables – Oil phase stabiliser rich in squalene, protects the “liquid phase” of the formulation from the oxidation due to a reticulating structure and helps to deliver active ingredients into the skin.
- Evodia Rutaecarpa Fruit Extract – Has powerful anti-inflammatory activity when applied topically to human skin.
- Peucedanum (Masterwort) Ostruthium Extract – Roots hold many medicinal proprieties such as tonic, antiseptic, emmenagogue and diuretic.
- Linoleic Acid – Research points to linoleic acid’s effective properties when applied topically on the skin, ie. anti-inflammatory, acne reduction, and moisture retention.
- Soy Sterols – PEG Soy Sterol ingredients help to form emulsions by reducing the surface tension of the substances to be emulsified. PEG-5 and -10 Soy Sterol also enhance the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness. PEG-40 Soy Sterol also helps other ingredients to dissolve in a solvent in which they would not normally dissolve and cleans the skin and hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away.
- Soy Phospholipids – Phospholipids and liposomes help the skin to retain moisture, restore the barrier functions of the skin, and deliver active ingredients to the skin with a sustained release over a prolonged time.
- Ergothioneine – antioxidant
- Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate – Glycyrrhetinic Acid is an organic compound derived from shredded licorice roots and Glycyrrhizic Acid is a natural material isolated from the licorice plant. It reduces skin flaking and restores suppleness.
- Bisabolol – Bisabolol enhances the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness. Note: Bisabolol exists in two structural forms: beta and alpha. beta-Bisabolol is found in corn and cotton. alpha-Bisabolol is used in cosmetics and personal care products and is found in various plants, including the herbal tea, chamomile.
- Allantoin – Present in botanical extracts of the comfrey plant and uric acid from cows, but chemically synthesized bulk allantoin is natural-identical, safe, non-toxic. Benefits include its moisturizing and keratolytic effect, increasing the water content of the extracellular matrix and enhancing the desquamation of upper layers of dead skin cells, increasing the smoothness of the skin; promotion of cell proliferation and wound healing; and a soothing, anti-irritant, and skin protectant effect by forming complexes with irritant and sensitizing agents.
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) – An antioxidant that may help speed wound healing.
- Menthol – An organic compound made synthetically or obtained from peppermint or other mint oils, it has local anesthetic and counterirritant qualities.
- Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil – This is the most important species for commercial production of Tea tree oil (melaleuca oil), a topical antibacterial and antifungal.
- Xantham Gum – Used to prepare water gels usually in conjunction with bentonite clays. Is also used in oil-in-water emulsions to help stabilise the oil droplets against coalescence. It has some skin hydrating properties.
- Capric/Caprylic Triglycerides – derived from coconut oil and glycerin, it slows the loss of water from the skin by forming a barrier on the skinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s surface. It is also used to alter the thickness of liquid products.
- Retinyl (Vitamin A) Palmitate – Retinol and Retinyl Palmitate enhance the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness.
- Panthenyl (Provitamin B5) Triacetate – This B-complex vitamin acts as a water-attracting humectant, making it an excellent conditioner and moisturizer.
- Tetrahexyldecyl (Vitamin C) Ascorbate – has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Phenoxyethanol – Used as a bactericide and also a topical antiseptic
- Caprylyl Glycol – Derived from coconut, it is used as moisturizing agent and for biological stabilization in cosmetics.
- Ethylhexylglycerin – Preservative derived from natural glycerin, also used as a deodorizer and skin conditioner.
- Hexylene Glycol – Used as solvents and viscosity decreasing agents in cosmtics and personal care products.
- Cetearyl Methicone – Skin conditioning agent
- Dimethicone – Antifoaming agent and skin conditioner and protectant
- Mineral oil –Mineral oil is a cheap petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. It interferes with the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. It slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. It is used in many products (baby oil is 100% mineral oil!) Any mineral oil derivative may be contaminated with cancer causing PAH’s (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons).
- Glyceryl stearate – Glyceryl Stearate acts as a lubricant on the skin’s surface, which gives the skin a soft and smooth appearance. It also slows the loss of water from the skin by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface.
- Cetearyl Alcohol – Cetearyl Alcohol and the other fatty alcohols keep an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components. These ingredients are also used to alter the thickness of liquid products and to increase foaming capacity or to stabilize foams.
- Stearic Acid – used as a surfactant cleansing agent and emulsifying agent. Produced from animal and vegetable fats and oils.
- Glycerin – Used to improve smoothness and has moisturizing properties. Just be careful, it can be a laxative if it’s, uh, introduced into the, um, you know. Serves as a substitute for petroleum products.
- Hamemelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract -Conditions the skin, helps reduce flaking and restores the suppleness of skin.
- Lanolin – Lanolin is an ointment-like material isolated from wool that is sheared from sheep. Lanolin and its related ingredients moisturize and lubricate the skin.
- Tocopheryl Acetate – anti-oxidant
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice – Aloe-derived ingredients enhance the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness.
- Zea Mays (Corn) Oil – skin conditioning and emulsifying agent.
- Retinyl Palmitate – Retinol and Retinyl Palmitate enhance the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness. These ingredients also enhance the appearance and feel of hair, by increasing hair body, suppleness, or sheen, or by improving the texture of hair that has been damaged physically or by chemical treatment.
- Cholecalciferol – a form of Vitamin D
- Schinus Mole Fruit Extract – spelled wrong, should be Molle; In traditional medicine, S. molle was used in treating a variety of wounds and infections due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
- Menthol – Has local anesthetic and counterirritant qualities.
- Potassium Sorbate – Preservative that inhibits the development of microorganisms for shelf stability, replacement for parabens.
- Peg-100 Stearate –The PEG Stearates clean the skin and hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away.
- Diazolidinyl Urea – Diazolidinyl Urea prevents or retards bacterial growth, preventing spoilage.
- Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate – Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate prevents or retards bacterial growth, preventing spoilage.
- Disodium Edta – Disodium EDTA and the related ingredients bind to metal ions which inactivates them. The binding of metal ions helps prevent the deterioration of cosmetics and personal care products. It also helps to maintain clarity, protect fragrance compounds, and prevent rancidity.
- Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose – is used for its emulsion stabilizing properties, as well as an aqueous viscosity-increasing agent in cosmetics.
The ingredient information came from a variety of sources, including Wikipedia, cosmetic brand sites, ingredient supplier sites, governmental agency sites and other random sources that we believe to be credible. If you want more info on a particular ingredient, just Google it.
Note that Zea Mays (Corn Oil) has some toxicity concerns, which you can read about here.