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7 Best Anti-Chafing Sticks for Runners

Fight the friction that causes hot spots with these easy-to-use lubricants.

anti chafing stick
Staff, Courtesy of BodyGlide

Nothing kills a good runner’s high faster than chafing, whether it’s irritation from wet and scratchy clothing, or the steady friction of skin-against-skin that makes it feel like your inner thighs are trying to build a campfire. The joys of summer running are many, but for most of us, they come at the price of raw and irritated skin. In colder weather, you can minimize chafing’s effects by wearing snug clothing that covers areas vulnerable to friction and doesn’t shift while your body is in motion. But in the heat of shorts and singlet season? The best chafe-protector is a layer of lubricating balm like Body Glide or Vaseline.

To help you understand why and when chafing is most likely to occur so you can better enjoy your summer mileage, we’ve put together this runner’s guide on how to prevent and treat chafing. Below, we also share some brief causes of chafing and our favorite products for battling its painful effects.

Best Overall
Thigh Rescue megababe Read More
The Mainstay
Original Anti-Chafe Balm BodyGlide Read More
Long-Lasting Protection
Natural Anti-Chafe RunGuard Read More
Best Bargain
GoStik Anti-Chafing Solid Chamois Butt'r Read More
Best Anti-Chafe Gel
Performance+ Anti Chafing Stick KT Tape Read More

      How to Prevent Chafing

      Robin Travers, M.D., a marathon runner and dermatologist at Boston-based Skincare Physicians, explains chafing as “a superficial abrasion and mechanical irritant dermatitis that occurs on skin due to prolonged rubbing.” This friction occurs most in areas “where skin touches skin, such as on the inner arms, thighs, or butt, or where clothing or running gear like hydration packs or heart rate monitors rub against skin.” Although it might sound counterintuitive, water in the form of sweat and rain can make the situation even worse because that moisture changes the properties of skin cells and causes the surface to become more gelatinous as it becomes more hydrated, increasing the degree of friction when rubbed against clothing or adjacent skin.

      So what can you do to prevent chafing from sweaty clothing or that bane of summer—the dreaded, inner-thigh “chub rub”? First, Travers recommends wearing properly fitting clothes that wick sweat. In other words, nothing too loose or tight-fitting—and no cotton. “Moisture-wicking fabrics will direct the moisture away from the skin,” she says. “Cotton fibers retain moisture and keep the skin wetter, thus increasing the coefficient of friction.”

      Similarly, she suggests changing socks and sweat-logged clothing during a long run, if possible, and using an antiperspirant to lessen the amount of sweat (Dove Solid for Sensitive Skin is her pick). She also recommends cornstarch-based baby powder to prevent chafing and blisters on the toes, as well as skin lubricants like Vaseline and Aquaphor.

      Some chafing is inevitable in long races—Travers says she “will never turn down the Red Cross tent volunteers at the Boston Marathon Mile 17 who are handing out tongue depressors loaded up with petroleum jelly to apply to all of the hot spots that might have developed.” But chafe-resistant sticks and balms can provide helpful lubrication for up to an hour—and more if you reapply mid-race.

      Travers says Body Glide is her anti-chafe weapon of choice; while I’ve also found it to be effective, it’s not the only great product runners can buy. Read on for our recommendations of the best anti-chafing sticks.

      How We Chose

      As a marathon runner living in Texas, I’m intimately familiar with the many ways chafing can ruin a run. And I’m also skeptical of any product that promises to put me out of my friction-induced misery—having been burned before in more ways than one. To choose the best anti-chafing sticks here, I drew on my own considerable experiences trying to find the best weapon against chafing in the heat and humidity, as well as those of my Runner’s World colleagues and friends. I also crowd-sourced running social media groups for new products to try and scoured Amazon reviews for any potential negative feedback I might have missed. This is a list of what’s worked best for me and other runners in my community.

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      Best Overall
      Thigh Rescue

      • Available in a pocket size
      • Natural ingredients
      • Feels good on skin

      • Pricey

      Key Specs

      • Size: 2.12 ounces
      • Fragranced: Essential oil-based fragrance
      • Notable Ingredients: Vitamin E, aloe, pomegranate seed oil, orange oil

      Thigh Rescue wasn’t made with running in mind—it was designed as part of Megababe founder Katie Sturino’s line of everyday products that take aim at “taboo body issues” like boob sweat and chub rub. Still, the stick works like an anti-friction charm for runners of all sizes, with an effect true to Megababe’s body-positive mission statement of making users feel more confident and comfortable. I applied some of this magical balm to my arms before a run in the late-summer Texas heat, and it kept them soft, slippery, and happy for more than an hour without any need to reapply.

      The stick smears on a bit creamier than other brands, but it doesn’t goop up or feel sticky or greasy. It’s made with aloe, pomegranate seed extract, grapeseed oil, and other natural ingredients that don’t irritate sensitive skin. There’s also an “unscented” version, though I didn’t detect much of a scent from the regular version. Check it out in one of two sizes—a 2.12-ounce deodorant-like stick, and a nice .81-ounce pocket size.

      The Mainstay
      Original Anti-Chafe Balm

      • Easy to find
      • Effective

      • Requires reapplication
      • Pricey for the size

      Key Specs

      • Sizes: 0.8, 1.5, 2.5 ounces
      • Fragranced: no
      • Notable Ingredients: Vitamin E

      Body Glide is probably the biggest name on the anti-chafe scene, so it’s easy to find at big-box stores and local running stores alike. It’s scent-free and made of plant-based, hypoallergenic ingredients that don’t irritate the skin, though they do seem to dry out and harden if you keep the same stick for too long. Swipe Body Glide onto friction-prone areas before you run for solid chafe prevention—true to its name, it glides on smoothly and stays put where you need it without feeling greasy or messy.

      During marathons, I carry the tiny pocket size in my handheld water bottle pouch for mid-race re-ups, but it’s also available in sizes up to a large 2.5-ounce stick. You can also find it in a “For Her” version with added coconut and sweet almond oils to moisturize your skin.

      Long-Lasting Protection
      Natural Anti-Chafe

      • Made of plant-based ingredients
      • No added scents

      • One size only

      Key Specs

      • Size: 1.4 ounces
      • Fragranced: No
      • Notable Ingredients: Beeswax

      The longer you run, the harder it is to keep chafing at bay. At some point in a trail ultra, raw skin starts to feel as inevitable as taking a wrong turn or crouching in a patch of poison ivy to pee (just me?). In my test experience, RunGuard fights thigh chafing with the effectiveness of Body Glide, but it seems to last a bit longer on my skin—which is pretty handy when you’ll be out there for more than four hours.

      It’s made of 100 percent plant-based ingredients and beeswax, without any added scents, petroleum products, or other chemicals. My only quibble with RunGuard is that’s available only in a 1.4-ounce size; there isn’t a smaller pocket size for mid-run re-application.

      Best Bargain
      GoStik Anti-Chafing Solid
      Chamois Butt'r

      • Inexpensive for the size
      • Effective

      • Melts if left out in the heat

      Key Specs

      • Size: 2.5 ounces
      • Fragranced: No
      • Notable Ingredients: Shea butter, lanolin

      The team behind Chamois Butt’r has all but perfected the art of preventing saddle sores from cycling, and now they’ve turned their attention to more general friction. The GoStik puts the brand’s signature cream in more solid form, for use by cyclists, runners, and all other chafe-prone athletes. Much like Body Glide, the stick is unscented, paraben-free, and won’t stain your running clothes.

      I found it to be similar to Body Glide in texture, effectiveness at preventing chafing, and longevity—but it comes out a little thicker and less smooth upon application. It’s made from a mix of animal-based and chemical products, with shea butter for moisture. Get it in a deodorant-sized 2.5-ounce stick or a teeny .15-ounce pocket size.

      Best Anti-Chafe Gel
      Performance+ Anti Chafing Stick
      KT Tape
      Now 50% off

      • Available in wipe form
      • Goes on easier than waxy formulas

      • Can feel greasy

      Key Specs

      • Size: 1.75 ounces
      • Fragranced: No
      • Notable Ingredients: Calendula extract

      From the makers of KT Tape comes this anti-chafing stick, which glides on more like a gel deodorant or lip balm than a harder, stickier wax. It’s easy to rub onto chafe-prone skin, where it feels light and smooth; however, if you over-apply, it can feel a bit gooey. The unscented product is made with capric triglyceride and a mix of natural and chemical ingredients, but it has no parabens or petroleum products in its formula. I found it to be roughly on par with Body Glide in terms of effectiveness, longevity, and sweat-resistance—but an ideal choice for those who prefer the consistency of a gel. KT Performance also makes the product in individually wrapped wipes, which would be convenient for stowing in your hydration pack for trail races.

      Gentle and Natural
      Anti Chafe Salve
      Squirrel’s Nut Butter

      • Feels soft on skin
      • Natural ingredients

      • It’s scented, which may not be for everyone

      Key Specs

      • Size: 1.7 ounces
      • Fragranced: No
      • Notable Ingredients: Coconut oil, cocoa butter, vitamin E oil

      Made with coconut oil, beeswax, and a handful of other natural ingredients, this handy stick keeps skin feeling soft and moisturized enough to ward off friction from clothing or skin-to-skin contact. The formula is gentle enough not to irritate sensitive regions but still effective—on a 10-mile run in the sticky August heat, I had zero chafing and never had to stop and reapply. It felt so good on my arms that I used it even outside of running just to treat dry spots. Note that some users have complained about the light coconut scent, but I found it to be noticeable and pleasant without being overpowering.

      Post-Run Healer
      Body Balm Stick

      • Feels good on chafed skin
      • Prevents clothing rub
      • No-mess application

      • Not as effective at preventing skin-on-skin chafing

      Key Specs

      • Size: 1.4 ounces
      • Fragranced: No
      • Notable Ingredients: Petroleum jelly

      When in doubt, go with the classic. The Vaseline Body Balm Stick packs petroleum jelly and a handful of other ingredients into a push-up stick that’s easy to apply without getting your hands all greasy. It’s lighter in texture and easier to spread than regular Vaseline, but still has the same moisturizing, anti-chafe effect. In my test experience, Vaseline’s stick works best for dry areas that rub up against loose clothing, but not necessarily for thigh chafe from running. Still, it’s an inexpensive and familiar product that can both prevent chafing and help raw skin feel better while it’s healing.

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