There’s one common enemy pretty much every runner encounters at some point – and that’s chafing.
Whether you’re training for your first marathon or about to embark on the Couch to 5K, the friction caused by constant rubbing – either skin-on-skin, from sweaty clothing, or accessories like hydration packs – can lead to raw, inflamed skin and painful blisters.
Fortunately, there are some really great products on the market these days to eliminate the misery of chafing and allow you to focus on your performance.
In this article, I’m going to look at anti chafing sticks, designed to provide a layer of lubricating balm to your skin and protect you from friction.
They are easy to carry and – because they roll on – simple to apply mid-run.
Read on to discover my favorite anti chafing sticks and the reasons I recommend them.
But first, let’s look at some other steps you can take to keep chafing to a minimum.
The 10 Best Anti Chafing Sticks for Runners in 2023
1. Best Anti-Chafing Stick for Women – Megababe Thigh Rescue
2. Best Anti-Chafing Stick for Men – Chafe Zone
3. Best Anti-Chafing Stick Designed Specifically for Runners – RunGuard Natural Anti-Chafe
4. Best Anti-Chafing Stick with His/Her Versions – BodyGlide Original
5. Best Anti-Chafing Stick for Travel – Chamois Butt’r GoStik
6. Best Budget Anti-Chafing Stick – Gold Bond Friction Defense
7. Best Anti-Chafing Stick in Gel Form – KT Health Chafe Safe
8. Best Anti-Chafing Stick for Healing – Vaseline Body Balm
9. Best Anti-Chafing Stick for Inner-Thighs – Zone Naturals Chub Rub Stick
10. Best Anti-Chafing Stick Overall – Squirrel’s Nut Butter Salve
Tips for Preventing Chafing
Unfortunately, some degree of chafing is inevitable if you run long distances, but there are things you can do to stop it.
- First, look for moisture-wicking fabrics that will quickly direct perspiration away from your skin. Avoid cotton, which does the opposite.
- Make sure that your clothing fits well – anything too tight or too loose is likely to rub – and try to cover areas prone to friction.
- If possible, change sweaty running gear and socks during longer races, and use a good antiperspirant to keep sweating to a minimum.
- Be sure to apply soothing balms like the anti chafing sticks below to all vulnerable areas ahead of your run. These include your thighs, nipples, groin, armpits, and bra line.
- If your skin is particularly sensitive, avoid fragranced products, which may make any irritation worse.
The 10 best Anti-Chafing Sticks
Size: 2.12 oz, Key Ingredients: Aloe, Pomegranate & Grapeseed Oil, Vitamin E, Scent: Citrus
|Goes on clear with no visible residue||Pricey|
|Long-lasting||Melts in the container in very warm weather|
|Vegan and cruelty-free|
It may have originally been designed to defeat ‘chub rub‘ – the uncomfortable friction created when the thighs rub together – but Megababe’s award-winning anti-friction stick works well on any area of the body where chafing is an issue.
Made with soothing and moisturizing natural ingredients, it has a nice, creamy feel on the skin without being greasy.
It’s easy to apply and has a pleasant, light fragrance that I really liked, plus it’s completely free from undesirable ingredients like aluminum, talc, sulfates, parabens, and more.
Size: 1.5 oz, Key Ingredients: Aloe, Eucalyptus Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Peppermint Oil, Scent: Unscented
|Won’t mark clothing||Some may find scent unappealing|
|Gentle on sensitive skin|
This effective stick was developed by an athletic trainer and physical therapist specifically for active people who need long-lasting protection for their toughest workouts.
Suitable for any part of the body experiencing friction, it is fragrance-free, although it has a slight scent nonetheless that I found medicinal and that may not appeal to everyone.
It rolls on smoothly and is easy to use on the go, although – as with some other brands – I found I needed to reapply it in very warm conditions or after a super-sweaty run.
Size: 1.4 oz, Key Ingredients: Aloe, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Beeswax, Scent: Unscented
|Completely natural||Not the easiest to apply|
|Ideal for sensitive skin|
|Made in the USA|
RunGuard is made by the company responsible for NipGuards – so it’s a brand that clearly knows a thing or two about combatting the discomforts many endurance athletes experience.
Containing soothing 100% plant-based ingredients, it’s designed for use in all weathers and works well on any part of the body, effectively reducing friction in areas prone to rubbing.
Because it’s waterproof, it stays on exceptionally well, although it doesn’t glide on as smoothly initially as some of the other sticks I tried.
Size: 1.5 oz, Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, Scent: Unscented
|Sweat and water-resistant||Dries out over time and becomes harder to apply|
|Won’t clog pores|
|No sticky or greasy residue|
A long-standing favorite with athletes everywhere, BodyGlide comes in different sizes and is a dream to apply, rolling on just as smoothly as its name implies.
It’s non-greasy and made with plant-based hypoallergenic ingredients – so it’s safe on all types of skin – and it works equally well in both humid and dry conditions to protect you from painful rubbing.
I particularly liked the ‘For Her’ version – it has coconut and almond oils added to keep your skin extra soft and moisturized – but although it is fragrance-free, it does have a somewhat unusual scent that I wasn’t overly keen on!
Size: 0.15 oz, Key Ingredients: Shea Butter, Lanolin, Scent: Unscented
|Convenient size – not much bigger than a ChapStick||Not all ingredients are natural|
|Easy, mess-free application||Pricey for a small amount|
|Safe for use with neoprene and other technical fabrics|
It is the stick form of the brand’s wildly popular cream, which was originally developed to save cyclists from the misery of saddle sores.
I found it both effective and long-lasting, but I do recommend checking out the ingredients carefully if you have sensitivities as certain chemicals used may worsen irritation for some people.
Size: 1.75 oz, Key Ingredients: Aloe, Zinc Oxide, Scent: Unscented
|Heals and protects||Contains non-natural ingredients|
|Rolls on smoothly||Softens up quite a bit in the heat|
|Doesn’t feel sticky|
If repeated rubbing has left you with rough skin, Gold Bond’s Friction Defense is the answer, designed to offer protection from chafing but also providing a welcome soothing, moisturizing effect.
It’s non-greasy and doesn’t leave a residue to mark your clothes, plus it has a light, fresh scent that I found very pleasant.
It stays on well, too – although you’ll probably need a second application on a very hot day or during an extended run – yet the super-low price means you won’t begrudge that extra swipe!
Size: 3.05 oz, Key Ingredients: Dimethicone, Beeswax, Calendula Extract, Scent: Unscented
|Long-lasting protection||May melt in very hot weather|
|Application is smoother than with many other sticks|
Unlike most anti-chafing sticks that have a bit of a waxy feel that I’d compare to an antiperspirant deodorant, Chafe Safe is a gel that’s super easy to apply.
It’s resistant to sweat and humidity and I found it held up well through very long runs, leaving my skin feeling nice and smooth.
You can also buy this product in convenient, individually wrapped wipes, and although I’d prefer the stick 99% of the time, I feel the wipes could be handy for traveling or tucking into your running belt in case you need to reapply it on the go.
Size: 1.4 oz, Key Ingredients: Petroleum Jelly, Scent: Unscented
|The benefits of Vaseline in an easy-to-apply form||Not effective enough for very long ruins|
|Feels soothing on irritated skin|
|Doubles up as a great all-over moisturizer|
From a well-established and trusted brand, this all-over balm is primarily designed to prevent dryness and heal skin that’s cracked, dry, or irritated, even on your heels.
But it’s very effective at preventing chafing during shorter runs, too, and can be used anywhere you experience friction to protect against blistering and soreness.
It contains Vaseline Jelly ‘Micro Droplets’ that help lock in moisture, and has a lighter texture than regular Vaseline which makes it easy to spread.
Size: 1.5 oz, Key Ingredients: Aloe, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Scent: Unscented
|Completely chemical-free||Needs fairly frequent application during intense activity|
|Kind to sensitive skin||Faintly medicinal aroma|
|Organic and cruelty-free||May begin to crumble over time|
As you can tell from its name, Chub Rub was designed to protect the area where the thighs rub together and is made with soothing, all-natural ingredients.
But you’re not limited to using it just on your thighs, of course – you can use it anywhere it’s needed to prevent friction.
Once you apply it to your skin it soaks in quickly, with no white or oily residue to mark your clothes, creating a natural barrier that keeps you protected for hours.
Size: 1.7 oz, Key Ingredients: Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Vitamin E, Scent: Cocoa Butter
|Made with beeswax for long-lasting protection||Can get quite soft in warmer temperatures|
|Light and pleasant scent|
|Easy, non-messy application|
This is my go-to for longer runs – a fantastic, athlete-tested salve made from totally natural ingredients and so gentle it’s suitable for children, too.
Its manufacturers compare it to a stick of regular butter in that it has a relatively hard texture, but – just like butter- it softens on contact with the warmth of your skin, making it easy to apply.
Its soothing ingredients have healing properties, too, so this is perfect for applying post-run to cracked and irritated skin, especially on your feet.
The 10 best Anti-Chafing Sticks for Runners: Key Takeaways
Chafing may be the number one complaint among athletes, but using preventative products and following the simple measures described above can help keep it to a minimum or stop it from happening altogether.
The anti-chafing sticks I’ve included in this guide are all perfect for the job, providing the protection you need to keep you 100% focused on your run.