homemade chamois cream ingredients

We all know chamois cream can get expensive, right? Most creams cost at least $10 for 4oz, but a $20 price tag isn’t uncommon.

There are cheaper alternatives, but they’re not quite the same. Queen Helene is nice and comes in a giant jar for just about $5, but it lacks that minty scent and tingly feel you get from the cycling-specific chamois creams like Enzo’s Buttonhole.

So I got to thinking, maybe I should mix up my own chamois cream at home?

That led me to some research and testing, and my findings are presented below. You might find one you like!

What I Learned About Chamois Cream Ingredients

Before diving in to research, I had to decide what I was looking to accomplish.

For a good chamois cream, I need three things:

  • A soft, creamy base to condition my skin
  • Something to give it that cooling mint sensation
  • Antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties

And I need to combine those into a pleasant smelling cream that’s thick yet easy to spread.

Here’s what might work:

Pure Shea Butter

Shea butter is great. It’s very thick and creamy. You could actually use it alone and have a decent chamois cream! (Or chamois butter as some say!)

It’s not cheap (expect to pay $8-20 per pound), but it’s very easy to find since it’s so popular.

Where to find it:

Pure Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter is also very popular and widely used in many hand and body lotions.

The differences between shea butter and cocoa butter are few, and they are priced about the same, so they’re essentially interchangeable when it comes to using them in a homemade chamois cream recipe.

If you like the smell of chocolate, though, you might prefer cocoa butter!

Here’s one at Amazon.com:

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is also great for your skin, and it’s less expensive than others (sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil, hemp seed oil, etc.) It mixes well with the above butters, so it could be helpful in achieving the desired consistency.

Since it’s going on your butt, just grab the cheap stuff from Wal-Mart or VitaCost.


Lanolin is a natural substance extracted from lamb’s wool. Its purpose is to protect the sheep’s skin and wool from the environment, so it makes sense that would also protect your bum from the harsh environment it’s in during a bike ride! Especially because it’s somewhat waterproof!

I highly recommend this stuff! The fancy kind designed for breastfeeding mothers gets really expensive, but if you get plain old unprocessed lanolin (which is all you need for this purpose), it’s around $1 per ounce.


Anti-chafing lubes such as BodyGlide and SportShield make use of silicone to prevent friction. If you look closely, you’ll see some form of silicone (silicone or dimethicone) in most chamois creams as well.

Similar to lanolin, the waterproof qualities help it last and stay in place, no matter how much you sweat. It can be found at chemistry supply stores or wholesale beauty suppliers.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

You probably have a bottle of witch hazel in your medicine closet, so why not put it to use? It’s generally used to relieve mild skin irritation and can possibly fight bacteria, so I like the idea of having this in chamois cream.

If you don’t have any, Dickinson’s is the common stuff, which I have at home; you could also get Thayer, which is the fancy alcohol-free kind.

As an alternative, consider a hydro-cortisone product such as Cortaid, Cortizone-10, or A&D ointment.

Tea Tree Oil (Melaeuca Oil)

Tea tree oil is a topical antibacterial and antifungal, so if you want to stay fresh and clean, this is a must. It’s expensive, so the trick is figuring out the minimum effective dose.

The best price I’ve seen is NOW Foods Tea Tree Oil in a 4oz jar for about $18.

Essential Oils

This is your chance to make the chamois cream your own! There are many essential oils out there to choose from (which you may remember from the section on essential oils in my aromatherapy discussion.)

If you’re looking for that minty tingle, I would suggest menthol and/or peppermint oil. Peppermint oil actually contains menthol, so you get more bang-for-your-buck that way.

I know some people who are huge fans of eucalyptus oil and use it for everything, even for a homemade yoga mat cleaner. If you are prone to saddle sores or infections, it might be a smart addition.

And there you have it! So many choices!

What next?

What About Keith Bontrager’s Chamois Cream Recipe?

This Keith Bontrager chamois cream recipe has been floating around the internet since 2006. (This exact recipe was originally published in Outside magazine, August 2007 edition, page 60.)

  • 13 oz petroleum jelly
  • 1 oz triple antibiotic ointment
  • 1 oz hydrocortisone cream
  • 1 oz lanolin

With the key being, use a large quantity, at least three fingers’ worth. That’s why it has to be cheap. As Keith says, using the expensive Swiss stuff “would cost a fortune.”

Vaseline is great in the sense that sweat won’t wash it away, but for most riders not riding 5-8 hours per day, day after day, I think it’s overkill. And I absolutely hate the slime it leaves.

So my quest continues…

Coach Levi’s Simple Chamois Cream Recipe

For my basic recipe, I stripped it down to the bare essentials. I also emphasized the easier to find, lower cost ingredients.

  • 4 oz shea butter
  • 2 oz coconut oil
  • 2 oz lanolin
  • 1 oz witch hazel

1. Melt the shea butter and coconut oil together in a pot on the stove (or in a double boiler if you have one).

2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

3. Stir in lanolin.

4. Stir in witch hazel.

5. Place in freezer for 20 minutes (or until partially solidified).

6. Whip until a butter-like consistency is achieved.

Or, skip all that and make the minty stuff instead!

Coach Levi’s Mint Deluxe Chamois Cream Recipe

Now, let’s get fancy!

  • 4 oz shea butter
  • 2 oz coconut oil
  • 2 oz lanolin
  • 1/8 oz tea tree oil
  • 1/16 oz menthol
  • 1/16 oz peppermint oil

1. Melt the shea butter and coconut oil together in a pot on the stove (or in a double boiler if you have one).

2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

3. Stir in lanolin.

4. Place in freezer for 20 minutes (or until partially solidified).

5. Add essential oils and mix for 10 minutes.

6. Place in freezer 10 more minutes.

7. Whip until a butter-like consistency is achieved.

8. Once ready, place in a small jar for storage.

9. Test it out.

*Note that cooking times and exact preparation will vary depending on your cookware and the specific brands of ingredients you’re using.

Like it? Great!

If not, modify the recipe and try again. Most of this is about fun and experimentation, anyway.


Don’t want the hassle of buying ingredients in bulk and cooking it up yourself?

I don’t blame you. Just grab some Enzo’s Buttonhole and call it a day.

You may also like
  1. Thanks for explaining the creams because it can be really confusing sometimes. I agree that you should always do research before applying products to your skin. My wife recently got some chamois cream and we wanted to learn how to apply it correctly. However, I wanted to do my research on it first. Thanks for posting this article because it helped me out a lot.

  2. Quick question/idea for you. If Queen Helene’s is otherwise a great product, why not just add some of the minty ingredients to that for the extra cooling effect?

    • @Nickelback

      Ummmm………….. I didn’t even think of trying that! That’s a great idea!

      You’d still have some prep work, but not as much. And it would probably be just as inexpensive as buying those raw ingredients.

      I guess the two reasons to go to the trouble of making your own chamois cream:

      1. The satisfaction of making it yourself. (Or the fun in experimenting.)

      2. Better control if you have allergies.

      But yeah, a great happy-medium could be Queen Helene creme plus essential oils!

      • going to try udder cream with essential oils – have used chamois buttr for a decade and am excited about a customized less expensive alternative …. can adjust ingredients per the season and according to how things are going “down there.” I ride 15-20k miles per year and depend upon something to keep the bottom quiet and happy…. will let you know how it goes…..

  3. Hello, I have trouble with this recipe turning to liquid when it gets warm outside. Have you tried it without the coconut oil? I was wondering if adding some beeswax might hold it together better.

    • @Dottie

      Thanks for your feedback! Coconut oil is tricky like that so you might have to adjust portions based on your climate.

      I know my mother used beeswax in some homemade beauty products, but I haven’t tried it in this, and I’m hesitant to post it without testing it first. I bet that would be a great addition, though, especially in very hot and/or very wet weather.

      • Or you could use Callendilla wax which has a lower melting point than beeswax and is a vegetarian alternative to beeswax. With either one some experimentation will be important to avoid too much / too little.

  4. Quick question for you. Is the menthol you’re using an essential oil or the crystals? Any idea how much of the crystals to use?

    • @Andrew

      Menthol essential oils.

      I don’t have personal experience using menthol crystals. My guess would be to try 1/2 tsp in this recipe for your first batch.

  5. Can you also simply combine all of the ingredients in your hand and then just rub it on?

    Also, does this cream go on your chamois or onto you?

    • @Mark

      No, I wouldn’t recommend it.

      It ultimately ends up on your body. You can apply it directly to your body, or to the chamois if you prefer. Personal preference. (I apply to my body.)

  6. are these qualities by weight or volume?

    • @Dave

      Good question!

      You can get away with either measurement for these recipes. For the essential oils, it would be best to get the exact weights. But for everything else, it’s convenient to use fluid ounces – which would be volume – so you can make the right size recipe for whatever container size you’ll keep it in.

  7. The problem with petroleum jelly is it’s just an ungodly mix of hydrocarbons off the bottom of a catalytic cracker at an oil refinery after all the valuable lighter constituents have been removed. It contains literally thousands of different chemical species and you have no idea what any of them do when applied to your hind quarters day after day – nothing good, I assure you. At least the plant-derived fats are simple mixtures.

  8. Do you have to use essential oils in this recipe? And would it be okay to add beeswax to this exact recipe to make it even more thicker?

    • @Susie

      You can skip the essential oils, although they do add some excitement!

      You can probably add beeswax, but you’ll have to let me know how it goes 🙂

  9. I made up your mint deluxe cream recipe today and made a very short ride, and I was very impressed by its cooling properties.

    However with liquid esential oils which are sold in ml measured quantities (here in the UK) its very difficult measuring out in fractions of an ounce.

    I ended up using it by the drop, 40 of the tea tree and 20 of the others, but I don’t know if I failed, met or exceeded your stated quantities. Smelled nice though.

    If the weather warms up here, I’ll give it a real test in earnest!

    Many thanks.

    • I’m just about to embark on this DIY journey but to me that seems like a lot of essential oil.

  10. Use of triple antibiotic ointment will lead to drug resistant bacterial abscesses. Use of hyrdrocortisone will result in thinned skin. So, don’t use the Keith Bontrager’s Chamois Cream

  11. Which Queen Helene were you writing about?

  12. On the recommendation of my bike mechanic – an experienced team rider – I’ve been using Noxzema Classic Clean Cleansing Cream as my anti chafing cream for years, for short and moderate rides. For longer rides I will combine the Noxzema cream with a commercial anti chafing product such as chamois butt’r.

    Coach Levi, any thoughts on using Noxzema as an anti chafing cream?



  13. I have been making the Coach Levi mint deluxe chamois creme since 2019 for my husband, who rides a fair amount. He feels it’s very effective and quite a bit less expensive than the commercial products. I use 3ml and 12ml syringes to measure the essential oils and they work very well. It eliminates wastage like you would get from using a medicine cup or small measuring cup. I’m an RN, so the conversion was pretty easy even if comparing volume/weight. For 1/16 oz, it is 1.8ml and for 1/8 oz, 3.8ml. Our local grocery has essential oils but I could not find menthol. I substituted eucalyptus for the menthol. I also tried a batch adding 2 ml of dimethicone and it did not whip up in the same consistency/color but solidified to the point of being usable.

  14. Coming very late to the conversation but in case others find this discussion – women should not use petroleum jelly in their nether regions. It doesn’t wash off with water, and can trap bacteria.

Leave a Reply