Mad Alchemy does a fine job of covering your skin, and all of their products seem to be crafted with great thought and care. We’ve taken some time to test out their chamois crèmes to see how they compare with others we’ve used. Mad Alchemy’s chamois crèmes fit in with the Alchemist’s mission – body lotion with an evocative aroma that has a performance purpose.
This is our second chamois crème review of the year. In general, we use crotch lubes as an insurance policy against serious chafing, and we make absolutely sure that we apply something in certain circumstances. Before any cyclocross race or time trial. Before longer rides and races. Before going out in the rain. And while we might hold off on the lube for a regular loop about town, we also know that there are differences between some of the pads in the shorts we wear. Some are more prone to abrading our skin. Hence, the chamois cream comes out sooner than it would if we’re using a pad that we know is super comfy.
Our previous review was of Rapha Chamois Cream. Both brands come in a screw-top jar that can be reused or recycled. The Mad Alchemy is contained a recycled plastic jar with a flat celeste green tint. Both also include a similar amount of product – 120ml for Mad Alchemy while 125ml for Rapha. Both brands make use of herbs and natural ingredients. Rapha comes in one flavor; Mad Alchemy in three.
The three different crèmes are more like variations on the same theme. They have the same base ingredients and the same viscosity. We might have spent too much time staring at the tubs of goo; it seems that the Pro+ has a very slight yellow/green tint, while the LaFemme is slightly pinkish, and the EuroPro seems a bit whiter than either of the others. In reality, they’re all white. There is a pearlescent, almost oily sheen to all three crèmes.
Dip a finger into the tub, scrape a little, and pull it out. The crème feels more like hand lotion than like any oil. It’s creamier and more liquid-feeling than the other chamois salves we’ve used, some of which feel more like face cream. Because of this, it spreads more easily. If you rub it into your hands, you’ll see a shiny patina briefly before the lotion is absorbed into your skin.
We prefer applying to the skin directly rather than to the chamois, as it seems to guarantee better coverage and “waste” less product. This is something you might want to do subtly when in public, lest you look like Jesus Quintana in The Big Lebowski.
Mad Alchemy eschews adding a mild counter-irritant to their concoction. While we’ve been known to enjoy the sensation as a sign that we’ve applied thoroughly, it’s hardly necessary. The bouquet of scents stays, not overwhelming, but pleasant and present in the background for a while after application.
We tried out all three lubricants across the range of chamois-cream-preferred cycling events. They worked in all situations, though for a few cyclocross races, we wish we had applied more. In terms of feeling that the lubricant stays on the skin without being absorbed over the course of the ride, the Mad Alchemy seems to get absorbed a bit faster than the Rapha or DZ Nuts or Assos. This factor should make it appealing to those leery of feeling like they’re sitting on slime. In general, we’re not fans of the slimy feel, but for high-friction riding, we prefer a thicker layer of lube. If that means feeling awkward for those first moments after tugging on our shorts, so be it.
As we mentioned earlier, there are three varieties of Mad Alchemy Chamois Crème. The “women’s” crème, LaFemme, has more homeopathic remedies in added lavender, peppermint, and tea tree oil. Lavender has been proven to work as both an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, so it could be working here, though Mad Alchemy doesn’t specify the quantity of Lavender, or any of their other ingredients. Still, for both men and women, these ingredients could be a very good thing. We didn’t notice the LaFemme to work any differently than the others, but that doesn’t mean the ingredients weren’t working their magic. The floral aroma is light and pleasant.
The EuroPro smells like an alpine valley in the morning – dewy, sunny, with damp, drying bark, evergreens, mountain flowers in the background. While we love the departure from salves that smell more medicinal, this was a sent we never truly warmed to.
Our favorite scent was the Pro+. We’re big fans of citrus, orange-hued fruits in particular. Perhaps even more than coffee, it’s a wake-up-call dialed into our cyclist nostrils. It’s a good thing that the aroma is more grapefruit than orange, as we might be tempted to spread some on toast. It smells that fresh and clean.
While we prefer squeeze tubes of chamois crème as they seem to prevent over-application, the viscosity of the Mad Alchemy crèmes seemed to make us less prone to over-indulge than other tubs. All the same, we probably should have applied a thicker coat at times.
Each of the three versions of Mad Alchemy’s Chamois Crèmes work as they should. Even better, they’re pleasing to the nose. If you’re into herbal remedies, LaFemme might be the ticket, otherwise, choose a scent and go.