Thigh chafe, often known as “chub rub,” can cause scorching pain that shouldn’t be underestimated — for some it’s an uncomfortable friction, for others it can even literally sting or turn into a wound. “Thigh chafing is one of those things that everyone’s embarrassed to talk about, which I get — humans are generally embarrassing,” says Amelia Diamond, head of creative at Man Repeller. “But I’d bet the majority of us have experienced fire thighs at least once.”
Diamond is right, of course. The good news is that because thigh chafe is so common, there are now a variety of ways to deal with it — and plenty of people who actually aren’t ashamed to talk about it. “It’s just sweat and friction on your body,” says Katie Sturino, who, last year, went as far as to launch a product line called Megababe, dedicated to “addressing and de-stigmatizing women’s comfort issues,” starting with thigh chafe. Diamond and Sturino included, I spoke to a group of eight stylists, fashion editors, and a plus-size clothing designer, all of whom have tried-and-true tricks for banishing thigh chafe. Here’s an exhaustive guide to what they recommend.
Anti-chafe body products
Among those who suffer from thigh chafe, one clear crowd favorite emerged: Megababe’s Thigh Rescue, a moisturizing stick that looks like an especially pretty stick of deodorant and contains aloe, pomegranate oil, and grape-seed oil. “Before Thigh Rescue, I used Dove deodorant on my thighs because I saw Michael Cera do that in Juno,” Diamond says. “And because his character was a runner, I figured that was a thing runners did, and if it was good enough for Michael Cera as a cinematic athlete, it had to be good enough for me.”
A similar situation actually prompted Sturino to create Megababe, after she got fed up with resorting to other products to save her thighs. “Two summers ago, I pulled out my Gold Bond stick for the hundredth time and was like, Why are there no options out there for girls?” she says. Sturino then researched the market, only finding “cheesy, gross products” like Fresh Breasts, from a company called Fresh Balls; she also didn’t like regular drugstore powder-to-gel formulations, which are messier than a stick and requires hand-washing. Using all-natural ingredients was also key. “One of my biggest frustrations is people saying they just use deodorant because antiperspirant is definitely not something you want near your lady parts,” Sturino says. “And deodorant is made to dry you out, so it doesn’t make a long-lasting chafe barrier.”
Other things this expert panel like about Thigh Rescue: It packs easily in a bag, according to Colu Henry, author of the Back Pocket Pasta cookbook, the glide goes on smooth and lasts for hours, according to Curvily clothing line founder Sarah Chiwaya, and the packaging is so good-looking, it deters women from feeling like they have to hide it, according to Lindsay Schallon, senior digital beauty editor at Glamour.
Another non-deodorant solution is this basic one from BodyGlide. It contains lots of vitamins, including hydrating vitamin E, and is vegan-friendly.
It’s a less specialized, not-as-portable way to tackle the problem, but Joshua Zeichner, dermatologist at Mount Sinai, recommends something as simple as a lotion with skin-protecting ingredients like triple-purified petrolatum. This basic one from Vaseline will do the trick. “Enriched with cocoa butter, it can help hydrate and repair dry, cracked skin,” he says. “The protective seal it forms over the skin can help minimize your risk of chafing.”
When wearing short dresses or skirts, Liz Black, writer and creator of the P.S. It’s Fashion blog, swears by Bandelettes, a garter-belt-like device made expressly to prevent thigh chafing. “They’re little lacy bands that look like the top of a thigh-high stocking,” Black says. “Measure your thighs where they touch to get the right size, slip on the silicone-backed bands, and you’re all set.” Chiwaya likes using Thigh Rescue on a daily basis, but says that for more rigorous, active days, she relies on Bandelettes. “I took a few pairs with me on our trip to Europe this year and had them under every dress: Despite walking even more than I do at home, I didn’t chafe once,” she says. Almost all of the women who recommended Bandelettes also mentioned that they feel light and airy enough on, that they’ll often forget they’re even wearing them.
If the look or feel of lace doesn’t appeal to you, Bandelettes also come in a lace-free microfiber.
Diamond offers a couple useful parameters when opting for shorts over a glide-on product: “They can’t be too tight because then you’re just giving yourself a whole new set of problems, and they can’t be too hot for obvious reasons, and they can’t be too long or else you’ll see them under the hem of your skirt.” She wears and recommends Thigh Society’s anti-chafing slip shorts. “They may look like a shapewear short, but they don’t act as shapewear and definitely don’t fit snug like shapewear,” says stylist Meaghan O’Connor, who also likes this brand — including the fact that the shorts come in multiple nude colors.
Anti-chafe compression shorts
“Truth be told, wearing dresses in the summer is a relatively new thing for me,” Schallon says. “For years, I wore jeans year-round because dealing with unappealing products was too painful.” She now swears by Spanx’s mid-thigh shorts for a few key reasons: “They go down far enough so that my legs don’t accidentally touch, and the bands on them are sturdy, so I don’t have to annoyingly tug them down all day.” But being that these are Spanx, they’re obviously snug.
For a one-piece solution that’s great for sweltering weather, try a skort. Outdoor Voices released a line of them not too long ago, all of which are crafted from the activewear brand’s signature texture compression fabric. From personal experience, this garment is a true savior: It performs well in workouts or on ultrahumid days, and stylishly and stealthily quells thigh chafe.
For soothing raw skin that’s already chafed, Zeichner recommends slathering something heavy on the wounded, raw area. “Thick ointment provides a barrier between the skin and the environment,” he says. “Ointments seal in raw skin, hydrate, prevent infection, and enhance the skin’s ability to heal itself.” He recommends CeraVe’s healing ointment for inner thighs that feel like they’re on fire.
“The only thing that’s ever really worked for me is aloe and big bandages — sexy,” says Schallon.
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