Whenever I get paid via PayPal for something, I generally go straight to one of two sites to spend it; Embrocation Cycling Journal or Upright Citizens Brigade. ECJ has never let me down, providing a great magazine and a selection of only the best products; if they don’t use it, they don’t sell it. Considering this is a company named after a type of skin care product, you know they take that real serious, so when I saw that they began carrying Sportique products, I was intrigued. I contacted Sportique to request some samples to try out and share with you all, and a week or so later a package arrived full of goodies. Read about what they have to offer, and some initial reactions, after the jump…
The majority of my riding is done within the Greater Los Angeles area, which is just simply a terrible place for your skin. With the sun beating down on me as I find my way through the dirty, smuggy air, I am not kind to my body. My wife, who is a professional makeup artist, is always saying that I need a better skin care regimen, so I was looking forward to trying some new products. (For comparison, I currently use Rapha soap, Mad Alchemy embrocation (usually non-warming), DZ Nuts or Assos chamois cream, DZ Nuts Bald or Brave Soldier Shower Shave for shaving, Jason Cooling Mineral Gel for post-ride and whatever lotion and sunscreen that is around.) What they sent me can essentially replace everything I use, and then some.
The first thing I noticed about their products is the great care taken to use natural ingredients to achieve the desired results, which they make known right away in their mission statement. The first place you notice this is in the aroma of each product. None of it smells artificial or perfumed, but rather earthy and fresh, without smelling hippie-ish (they remind me of this one He-Man action figure who was covered in moss and had a very distinct smell, but in a totally good way).
After reading through all the packaging and what not, my wife’s response was that most of the products were simple in their composition, with only the one or two key ingredients varying, and using a different base (wheat protein) than most similar products she’d seen. She couldn’t say if this was better or worse, only different. Suppose if you’re going to claim your product is better, it should be different, yeah? So here’s a rundown on what I’ll be testing out:
- Century Riding Cream – this is one of the items that ECJ carries, and probably produces the most results if you look up Sportique online. Seems to be the favorite chamois cream of many. Seems to be similar to DZ Nuts, but noticeably thicker, which helps it last longer.
- Elements Cream – another one carried by ECJ, and seemingly the second most popular product they make. An all-round cream designed to protect you from the elements, both on the hot and cold ends of the spectrum. This was one of the things I was looking forward to trying the most.
- Shaving Oil – I’ve already tried this one out. It’s very interesting, rubbing just a simple oil on the legs for shaving. It didn’t seem to be thick, or terribly coating. However, the razor glided along perfectly and I ended up with one of the smoothest shaves ever, with minimal irritation. Only compliant was difficulty in seeing what had or had not been shaved. They suggest using it in conjunction with another cream as a “base layer,” which may alleviate this.
- Moisturizing Body Balm – I put this on after the shave this morning, which is definitely contributing to my irritation-free legs at the moment. It’s thinner than I anticipated, but went on easily and did not leave behind a greasy feeling like a lot of lotions.
- Road Rash Remedy Disinfecting Balm – I don’t know what it is, but this smells reeeeeeally good. Basically, it is a natural version of Neosporin, with ingredients to sooth the area (but not a “pain reliever”). I’ve been applying it to couple spots all day, and they aren’t healed yet, so we’ll see.
- Get Going Cream – seems to be similar in effect to how many use embrocations, but without the lasting warming effect or protection from the elements. Ingredients to get blood flowing, and stimulate muscles to prepare for the suffering you are about to reign on them.
- Warming Up Oil – a massage oil version of embrocation, which provides lasting heat, but without as much protection from the elements.
- Cooling Down Cream – the opposite of the Get Going Cream; treat your muscles to a treat after the suffering you just reigned on them. Soothes and provides some anti-inflammatory protection. This is the one I needed most, as I’m unhappy with all the products I’ve used in this capacity. Just a quick dab on my arm produces to the soothing cool that I am looking for, but this time in an easy to apply, non-greasy format.
I can’t wait to go out over the next several weeks and punish my legs in an effort to truly test out these products. Look for updates later in the summer.
Edit: I received an email from the US Sportique representative who asked me to clarify my earlier statement regarding the product formulas, which I’ve “redacted” above. I’ll let them explain:
“We are probably one of few companies in the world that is using different formulations for each of their products. Basically from clean sheet of paper. Utilizing over 137 ingredients across the entire line. It is almost unheard of in the industry. But we aim to design each product for its purpose, deliverance and performance first. Manufacturing costs and profit margins are secondary. The most common denominator is SHEA BUTTER & JOJOBA OIL, OLIVE OIL. And of course wheat proteins, contained in edible emulsifiers and thickeners.”