During the warmer months, few things are more persistently irksome than chafing. Whether you’re a runner who likes to take advantage of the nice weather or someone who wants their inner thighs to live in peace, anti-chafe products can help prevent any uncomfortable friction that causes sore skin.
To help you stay friction-free in high temperatures, we spoke to dermatologists about the best anti-chafe products on the market, plus got their tips and tricks on how to avoid chafing and what to do when it occurs.
Our top picks
- Best overall/editor’s pick: Megababe Thigh Rescue
- Best pick according to dermatologists: Body Glide for Her
- Best budget option: Gold Bond Friction Defense Stick
How we picked the best anti-chafing products:
When shopping for quality anti-chafe products, dermatologists emphasized finding the right, friction-reducing ingredients more than anything. We also valued price and our own personal experience with these products, where applicable.
- Ingredients: Shoppers should look for chafing sticks with a combination of humectants, emollients and occlusives (the same types of ingredients found in quality face moisturizers), according to Dr. Hadley King, a NYC-based dermatologist. Ideally, these products should glide smoothly while creating a strong barrier between any hotspots that rub (like inner thighs or the back of your heels), and any exterior irritation like the heel of your shoe or a wet swimsuit strap on your skin. Notable emollients include glycerin and coconut oil, which appear in nearly every anti-chafe product we recommend. We explore these ingredients and others in more depth, below.
- Price: Based on our own experience shopping for and using these products, we’ve found great options in the $7 to $15 range for roughly 2 ounces (or one deodorant-like stick) of product.
- Personal experience: As someone who struggles with thigh chafing during the warmer months, I’ve tried a handful of these products and included my recommendations.
The best anti-chafing products in 2023
Most anti-chafing products are salves packed in glide-on sticks, jellies, powders or creams. Below, we’ve compiled a list of expert-recommended options from dermatologists or options I’ve personally tried that helped keep my skin friction-free and happy.
Several of the dermatologists we spoke to recommended Megababe as an anti-chafe solution. “[It’s] an affordable, easy-to-use stick formulated to prevent friction by providing both hydration with grapeseed oil and improved glide to reduce the friction that leads to chafing with ingredients like vitamin E and aloe,” says Dr. Annie Chiu, dermatologist and founder of The Derm Institute.
I’ve used Megababe for years and cannot imagine my life without it. It’s packaged in a deodorant-like applicator and is a breeze to use: I typically swipe the balm across each of my inner thighs two to three times and typically reapply throughout the day as needed. The formula, which has a subtle, clean scent, leaves behind a residue that makes my inner thighs happily glide across each other as I walk. Megbabe is formulated with caprylic/capric triglyceride (a compound derived from glycerin) and coconut oil, both of which are emollient ingredients that moisturize the skin.
Another favorite product of mine for chafing, Squirrel’s Nut butter is made with Cocos nucifera (coconut oil) to help moisturize your skin and avoid friction. According to King, Cocos nucifera has both emollient and occlusive properties, meaning it hydrates and also helps create a protective barrier on top of your skin.
Squirrel’s Nut Butter is sold as an everywhere solution for athletes with chafing. The brand recommends applying it not just before a race or athletic event, but also before showering to avoid further bothering your already-tender skin.
I used Body Glide’s anti-chafe stick, which comes recommended by King, on my inner thighs during a recent warm-weather vacation. While other options, like Megababe, offer a more slippery feel, Body Glide for Her felt thicker and more waxy, and perhaps is a better option to use along a bathing suit line or anywhere else where you need a heavy-duty barrier between you and any fabric, like the back of your shoe.
Jessica Wu, MD, a Los Angeles-based dermatologist and and author of “Feed Your Face," recommends Gold Bond’s Friction Defense Stick as a more affordable option that contains several popular friction-reducing and inflammation-fighting ingredients including zinc oxide and aloe.
I found this unscented option similar to Body Glide; it created a strong, waxy barrier across your skin that didn’t glide on as smooth, but still helped eliminate any friction.
This dusting powder from Lush has a cornstarch and kaolin clay base, which works to absorb sweat and moisture and reduce friction, according to Wu. It’s also formulated with cocoa butter to nourish the skin, according to the brand.
Compared to the deodorant-like applicators in this list, Lush’s option is a powder, which Marchbein recommended using only after first applying a regular cream or moisturizer: the cream can work as a barrier and the powder, in turn, can work to absorb excess moisture. She recommends this strategy for people whose skin has already started to chafe to avoid further irritation.
How to shop for anti-chafing products
According to the dermatologists we spoke to, there are certain healing and moisture-wicking ingredients you should look out for when shopping for anti-chafing products:
- Cocos nucifera: many anti-chafe products include coconut oil, a natural emollient that helps hydrate skin and glides smoothly.
- Glycerin or caprylic/capric triglyceride: Also known as glycerol, this ingredient “moisturizes skin without clogging pores,” according to Wu.
- Aloe vera: Many of the dermatologists we spoke to noted that aloe can both protect the skin from chafing and reduce inflammation after chafing has occurred.
- Zinc oxide: Commonly found in products that treat diaper rash and sunscreens, this compound usually comes in the form of a thick, white paste and is designed to form a protective barrier on your skin, according to Dr. Shari Marchbein,
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch-based products help absorb moisture, making them ideal for anti-chafing products, according to Chiu. Wu added that they can also reduce friction in chafing-prone areas.
- Vitamin E: According to cosmetic dermatology expert Kenneth Mark, MD, products with vitamin E are “particularly soothing” and hydrating.
- Kaolin clay: This mineral helps absorb sweat and skin oils, making it ideal in anti-chafing products, according to Wu.
When shopping for a quality option, pay particular attention to what order the ingredients appear on the label: “Skincare products list their ingredients in order of concentration from highest to lowest,” says Dr. Michele Green, a NYC-based dermatologist. So, “the closer [an ingredient] is to the top of the ingredient list, the greater the concentration of the ingredient in the given product,” she says.
How to prevent chafing
On top of applying anti-chafing products before you leave the house, there are some other things you can do to prevent that uncomfortable friction:
- Wear moisture-wicking clothing. “These fabrics will help you keep cool and dry, decreasing the sweat that can cause chafing,” Chiu says.
- Make sure you aren’t sitting in wet or sweaty clothing and dry off your skin after sweat-soaked workout sessions or dips in the pool. “Wet skin can make chafing worse,” King says.
- Avoid wearing cotton. According to Mark, this material is not sweat- or moisture-wicking, meaning it will sit damp on your skin once you start sweating, causing eventual friction and discomfort.
Chafing treatment: How to care for a rash
If you find yourself in an uncomfortable (and even painful) situation, the dermatologists we spoke to recommended some remedies you can try to ease the pain and speed up the healing process:
- Apply cold aloe vera gel to the chafed area, which can help relieve irritation, according to Wu. If you don’t have aloe vera gel, you can also try a cold washcloth compress.
- Use a mild cortisone cream if your chafing rash starts to get itchy. However, if a painful rash persists for more than a week, our experts recommended seeing a doctor. “It might simply be irritation, but you might also have a fungal or a yeast infection or something else,” Marchbein says.
- Wear breathable fabrics. “Airing out the area is the most helpful,” Chiu says.
- Use Aquaphor. This soothing petroleum ointment will protect the skin while it heals, according to King. Mark also recommended Aquaphor because it’s “extremely protective, thick and rich enough to last hours when you apply it.”
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Dr. Annie Chiu is a board-certified cosmetic and general dermatologist and founder of The Derm Institute.
- Dr. Hadley King is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. She has also offered her guidance in Select’s guides to the brow growth serums, razor burn treatments, the best drugstore shampoos and dandruff shampoos and body lotions.
- Dr. Shari Marchbein is a board-certified dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology
- Dr. Kenneth Mark is a cosmetic dermatologist with offices in New York City, Long Island., NY and Aspen, CO.
- Dr. Jessica Wu is a Los Angeles-based dermatologist and author of “Feed Your Face.”
Why trust Select?
Christina Colizza is an editor at Select and has been a product reviewer since 2018. She covers a range of self-care and skin care topics and has written Select's guide to eyebrow serums, body lotions, the best drugstore shampoos and more. She also edits Select’s Weekly Sales and New & Notable columns, where we highlight exciting new product launches and deals.