Best Anti-Chafe Balms

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

54 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
732 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best anti-chafe balms

Last Updated September 2020

If you have sensitive skin, then you’ve probably tried nearly every product under the sun to find one that won’t cause irritation. Few products combat irritation caused by friction, namely runner’s rash, rug burns, and blisters – but there’s one that can help. Anti-chafe balms keep chafing, redness, blistering, and skin eruptions at bay with a unique formula.

If you’re wondering who uses anti-chafe balms, just look around: runners, cyclists, hikers, babies, and those with sensitive skin, just to name a few. Anti-chafe balms use ingredients like beeswax, olive oil, or petroleum to reduce friction by creating a protective layer over the skin. Balms won’t clog pores, but they will cause moisture to wick or bead away from the skin.

Don’t let sensitive skin hold you back from the activities you enjoy. Take a look at our comprehensive buying guide on anti-chafe balms to choose one that provides the protection and relief you need. For our five favorite balms on the market, see the matrix above.

Bicycle commuters can work up a sweat getting from point A to point B. Anti-chafe balm will keep friction at bay for a more comfortable commute.

Using anti-chafe balms

How it works

Anti-chafe balm is applied directly to the skin to prevent friction from skin rubbing against fabric or other skin. The balm provides a breathable moisture barrier, which means sweat and rain roll off the skin and are absorbed into clothing or simply wicked away.

Even if moisture isn’t an issue, sometimes basic friction from dry fabric against skin is problematic. Anti-chafe balm acts as a greaseless lubricant. Fabric glides against the coated skin instead of scraping against it, which means fewer burns and blisters. For the most part, anti-chafe balm dries greaseless and colorless, so there’s no need to worry about stained clothing.

Who can benefit?

  • Runners and cyclists can apply anti-chafe balms around the thighs and groin area for more comfortable races.
  • Parents can use anti-chafe balms on sensitive baby bottoms to prevent diaper rash.
  • Adults with sensitive skin can enjoy wearing any clothing they like by applying a small amount of anti-chafe balm to high-friction areas like the inner thighs.
  • Certain types of medical devices, such as CPAP machines, rub across areas of the face. Anti-chafe balms in small amounts can help limit morning red marks.
EXPERT TIP

When wearing new shoes without socks, a touch of anti-chafe balm at the back of your heels will provide a smooth layer of protection and prevent skin from blistering.


Staff  | BestReviews

Key considerations

There are several different types of anti-chafe balms. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Lotions and creams

The first anti-chafe balms were in the form of lotions and creams, and they’re still popular. A little goes a long way with these. Once you figure out the right amount of product, you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

Lotions and creams are messy to apply. Even though they wash off easily, you still need to scrub your hands well, especially before touching your eyes or mouth.

Roll-ons and sticks

Roll-on anti-chafe balms are the most convenient and mess-free. They either come as a rollerball or a stick. Simply swipe the balm on your skin to apply. There’s no leaking with these containers, and it’s easy to control how much product comes out.

Roll-ons tend to be more expensive than other anti-chafe balms. Some consumers also feel that because the roll-on or stick comes into regular contact with the skin that they are less hygienic than other balms.

Wipes

Anti-chafe balms in wipe form are ultra-convenient and embraced by gym-goers and travelers. Each wipe has the right amount of product, so there’s no need to worry about mess or waste. Wipes are especially popular with parents as an alternative to diaper rash cream.

Some wipes are too small to cover the area of application, so you’ll need to use multiple wipes to do the job. This can get costly, so they’re not ideal if you need to use anti-chafe balm often. Wipes also have mixed reviews since a considerable amount of product transfers to the hands. Wipes are not eco-friendly.

Gels

Gels are the up-and-coming preferred formula for anti-chafe balms. Application is quick, and gel feels lightweight on the skin. Gel spreads easily, so less product is required, which makes gel anti-chafe balms a cost-effective choice.

Though gels don’t require much product to cover a large area, these anti-chafe balms are often more expensive than other types.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Anti-chafe balms shouldn’t be applied to the lips or inside the nose. While many formulas are designed for sensitive skin, they shouldn’t be ingested or inhaled.

Features

Ingredients

The ingredients in anti-chafe balms vary considerably. Popular ingredients include beeswax, olive oil, petroleum, triglycerides, coconut oil, and glyceryl behenate. These anti-chafing substances make the moisture barrier, and some of them also work as emulsifying agents to thicken the formula.

Natural formulas

For those with sensitive skin, there’s a broad assortment of anti-chafe balms made with more natural ingredients. These balms are usually free of petroleum, lanolin, and mineral oils. They stick to hypoallergenic ingredients that are plant-derived, vegan-friendly, and fragrance-free. There are also anti-chafe balms that are sustainable, child-safe, and cruelty-free if you’re looking for more eco-friendly options.

Anti-chafe balm prices

Anti-chafe balms cost between $6 and $25, so there’s a formula for every budget. If you’re going to use anti-chafe balm every day, it’s worth buying in bulk to spend less per container.

Inexpensive: Wallet-friendly anti-chafe balms cost less than $10. These often come from leading brands that manufacture large quantities to keep prices down. They include tried-and-true formulas, but they’re hit or miss for consumers.

Mid-range: Mid-range anti-chafe balms run between $10 and $18 and include those manufactured by premium brands as well as emerging brands. They don’t always have attractive packaging, but these balms are diverse in terms of formulas and have a lot to offer.

Expensive: Premium anti-chafe balms cost between $18 and $25 per container. These formulas are rigorously tested to meet quality standards. Since they focus on using high-end ingredients, their sticker prices reflect it.

EXPERT TIP

If your child has sensitive skin, choose an anti-chafe balm made for kids. These formulas are as natural, non-toxic, and hypoallergenic as they come.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Brides: invest in anti-chafe balm. A detailed wedding gown can get warm and, depending on the material, could rub against skin. Apply anti-chafe balm around contact areas with the gown to be as comfortable as possible on your big day.
  • Apply anti-chafe balm with sandals. Especially if you’re outside in warm weather or walking on sandy beaches, anti-chafe balm will keep friction from sandal straps at bay for a blister-free day.
  • Wash off thoroughly. Most anti-chafe balms wash off easily with soap and water in the shower. However, it’s important to make sure you get all the balm off to avoid product buildup that could cause a reaction later on.
  • Apply under a bra. If your bra rubs against your skin, especially under your bust, a little bit of anti-chafe balm will keep you irritation-free.
If buttoned collars irritate your neck, especially after a shave, apply some anti-chafe balm to protect your skin from razor burn.

FAQ

Q. Is anti-chafe balm scented?
A.
The majority of anti-chafe balms are unscented as scent can be irritating to sensitive skin. Many formulas also stick to natural ingredients and try to stay hypoallergenic. There may be a subtle scent from certain ingredients, but there’s really nothing overpowering about anti-chafe balms.
 

Q. Are anti-chafe balms clear?
A.
While many of them dry clear, they don’t always apply that way. Some roll-on balms are opaque like deodorants, and if you apply too much, they end up matting or flaking on skin. Some creams and lotions are white until they absorb into the skin. Gels are generally clear.
 

Q. Can I use anti-chafe balm on my face as a makeup primer?
A.
While some beauty influencers have tried this hack, anti-chafe balms aren’t designed for cosmetic use. While they can help prevent redness from windburn or make sweat roll off your face, they can cause acne flare-ups and other skin irritations. Depending on your foundation’s formula, it could be a bit difficult to get it to stick to the balm, too.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
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    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
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    Web Producer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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