Back in my college days when I used to compete, my running jersey and shorts would chafe so badly my sensitive areas would bleed from all of the running. Back then I never thought about any way to ameliorate the damage — I’d put up with it, bleed and ignore the pain.
Fabrics and design are better these days, but chafing and skin damage is still a problem for endurance athletes. Surfers, for example, wear rash guards under their wetsuits to keep skin irritation down, but chafing still happens near the underarms. It’s not unusual for my feet to bleed on hiking trips. Cycling shorts are better than ever at keeping the chafing down, but I still get saddle sore and even blisters on occasion. Yesterday, oddly enough, the hot weather I rode in made the back of knees itch something fierce.
Endurance events and skin care
There are products used by many endurance athletes: Bag Balm, Body Glide, Chamois Butt’r, and so forth. Anybody who spends all day outdoors also is concerned about exposure to UV radiation from the sun.
When ultramarathoner Charlie Engle became the first human to run across the Sahara Desert, he discovered nothing he tried stayed on his skin in the brutal desert sun. He slathered on creams and lotions and sunscreens, and they all washed off his skin as he sweated. He burned. He chafed. He blistered. And he wanted a product that would work for him.
Mission Product “Athlete-Engineered Skincare”
Engle’s agent got him in touch with entrepreneur Josh Shaw. “I’m good at a couple of things,” says Engle, “and creating a personal care business was not one of them.” Shaw brought financing and marketing expertise this new venture, Mission Product, which sells “Athelete-Engineered Skincare.” Engle and Shaw have signed some world class athletes not with the usual endorsement deals, but as part owners and product development experts. Swimmer Amanda Beard, NBA MVP Steve Nash, soccer player Mia Hamm, Halfpipe medalist Gretchen Bleiler and extreme endurance athlete Hunter Kemper have signed on as founders and product innovators at Mission Product.
I’ve received a sample of their products — SPF 30 sunscreen, SPF 20 lip balm, Anti-Friction Cream (oh yes baby), Foot Gel and “Revive Gel” — and my initial impression is very favorable. I’ll put these products through the ringer by biking, hiking and swimming and let you know how it all holds up.