When you get in the shower and then realize how badly you chafed.– Said by every new endurance athlete after his or her first race.
You might LOL at this piece of advice, but the welcome address to athletes for the 2018 Ironman Canada triathlon included a tip to remember to pack some sort of body lubricant in one’s transition bags (bags used to transition from one event to the other of the swim to bike, or bike to run events), or else we would find out how truly sorry we would be if we forgot such an important thing. Audible laughter rippled through the audience. Many of us have personal experience with Chafer’s Remorse.
When you move your body for long periods of time, or you get drenched in a downpour and you keep moving without drying off, your skin gets chafed. Where you get chafed depends on you, although there are at least five places that athletes talk about getting chafed at the most: between the legs, chest, neckline, the inner thighs, and toes.
To cover the distance of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride with epic climbing and descending in hot weather, and run a marathon, chafing happens. Long distance endurance enthusiasts of all kinds share their best advice on everything from preventing blisters on feet, lubricating delicate skin that will get wet and then rub against clothing, and swap stories as well as pictures of nasty looking chafe wounds and foot blisters when they forgot to lube up or reapply.
Chafing the dream.Spectator sign seen during marathons and triathlons
So, what if you’re not an athlete? What does a review of an anti-chafe product that has taken the ultramarathon running world by storm have to do with the world of food allergies, autoimmune disease, or chronic illness?
Something For Us Sensitive People
You can read this post, which does a good job in describing what Squirrel’s Nut Butter is, what it does, and why ultramarathoners love it. But people with food allergies, autoimmune disease, and chronic illnesses have a few additional demands on what they put in and on their bodies that others do not. Many of us have sensitivities to different chemicals, certain ingredients, and even fragrance within a product. Because of these sensitivities, that is actually why I ran into the founders behind Squirrel’s Nut Butter and tried their product.
You see, there are actually a number of products on the market that work as anti-chafe lubricants: Body Glide, TriGlide, and Chamois Butt’r, just to name a few. Two that I also like that I came across just in the last twelve months are Betwixt Athletic Skin Lubricant, and Buttonhole, which comes in tingle and no-tingle formulations.
For us sensitive people, what ingredients we put where and what things we ingest matter, big time. The middle of a race or the middle of a desert are no places to test drive whether a product causes redness, rashes, or an allergic reaction.
Weirdo Skin Patches
I met Chris and Stacy at the Javelina Jundred expo this October 27. Javelina Jundred is an ultramarathon in the desert, and runners would be interested in trying out or stocking up on product that would make their running more comfortable. While I had heard of Squirrel’s Nut Butter from other runners, I had not tried it.
When Stacy mentioned that she originally intended to create something to help treat her daughter’s skin condition, I showed them a corner of my wrist where skin tends to peel to the point that it will break open and bleed if untreated. After trying their product once over the weekend and having no reactions to the all-natural ingredient, I flew home to Seattle and reached out to them about getting a sample again and trying it for a period of no less than five days to see if it would make a lasting difference.
I got to work on the five-day test on my wrist during the Thanksgiving Day long weekend, lubricating the same spot morning and evening while subjecting it to the Sedona desert while hiking. Chris sent me a container of their foot product, Happie Toes, which also contains peppermint. My feet were dry and peeling from the previous month’s ultra, so the foot cream was a nice treat for my beat-up feet. I’ll spare you the photos, as there are some missing toenails, a common occurrence among ultrarunners.
Not only did the wrist area heal and stop its peeling, it hasn’t returned, even after I stopped treating it with the original SNB formula. With other products I’ve tried, the peeling would begin again just as soon as I stopped using some kind of ointment or lotion for the dryness.
I also discovered a scaly patch of skin on my right leg, which I scratched open while sleeping. As soon as the superficial scratch wound closed (Neosporin on that sucker!), I started putting SNB formula on it to see if the dry skin would heal faster. The skin responded quickly, and the more emollient barrier lasted longer than a standard unscented lotion, such as Lubriderm. I mention Lubriderm because this lotion is something a doctor’s office might recommend when an over-the-counter option is needed. The SNB product was more effective than a standard unscented lotion on my dry, scaly skin. Normally, a sock with the regular amount of stretch in it would cause my skin to feel itchy, but with a layer of SNB, I didn’t have the usual discomfort.
Natural Ingredient Anti-Chafing, Hooray!
Of course, I also felt that for a proper review, I should test the SNB original formula for its anti-chafing qualities. While I wanted to try it on at Javelina Jundred on an ultra in real-life conditions, the samples at the aid stations were long gone by the time I arrived.
An aid station volunteer who saw that I was looking for it handed over his unopened sample, and I took it like I had just just found gold. One thing I noticed almost immediately is that it is thicker than most of the other anti-chafe products. That thickness was really helpful in keeping my clothing from chafing more sensitive skin tissue. Better yet, it stays in place, which means less need for reapplication. That includes when you get wet, and when it’s time to use the port-o-potty. No wonder ultrarunners love this product!
Of course, I always have concerns about skin sensitivities, so the ultimate test was to see if I had any skin reactions on delicate genital tissue. Nope! Everything was good down there, phew! There are no icky chemicals in which to react, since the formula is made with all-natural ingredients. As a bonus, it has a nice, fragrance-free natural scent that keeps all your parts — whether toes or between the legs — smelling nice. When you’re running in the desert, the last thing you’re thinking about is what you smell like, yet it is so nice to know you don’t out-reek the javelinas!
When my husband and I travel, we try to pack as light as we can for the fun things we like to do on our adventures. He just bought me a smaller carry-on roller bag so that I can try to get away without a larger checked bag, and to combine smaller adventure gear items in one checked bag instead of two. When you travel frequently, it adds up!
It might seem like a small thing, but when you try to compress your gear into the smallest and lightest space possible, you want to bring your essentials and keep it simple. While SNB probably wasn’t thinking of their formulae for these other purposes, here’s the ways I’ve used it so far:
- dry skin treatment
- anti-chafe treatment
- nail cuticle treatment
- hair wax
- lip balm
- eye makeup remover
- replacement for vaseline on cheeks (cold weather)
At a cost of $4.95 for the 2.0 ounce container, that’s like putting multi-purpose spa product in your bag. When we stay at fancy hotels, sometimes I can’t use their personal care items because of scents and chemicals, so I do like to bring my own. With all its multiple purposes, I’d rather bring one container of SNB than four different products. Just bring a reusable plastic spatula to spoon it out, no double dipping with your fingers.
As we plan our next get-away, I already know some SNB is coming with me! Whether for the exercise enthusiast or for the chemically-sensitive person, I hope you’ll give Squirrel’s Nut Butter a try. It would also make an inexpensive stocking stuffer or birthday goody bag item for the runner’s in your life.
Disclaimer: I received two complimentary 2.0 ounce containers of SNB Original Formula and one container of Happy Toes from Chris Thornley, and agreed to test their SNB product on my wrist as well as share the results of that test. I have received no financial compensation for this review.