Skincare isn’t often referenced when talking about performance gains in cycling but it can certainly help you feel more comfortable on the bike…
– Words and video by Rob Arnold
“In every inch of skin there are 19 million skin cells, 650 sweat glands, 20 blood vessels and 1,000 nerve endings.” Randall Cooper, the founder of Premax Performance Skincare, has a lot to say about looking after the largest organ of your body.
Skin often gets attention in Australia, particularly at this time of the year when days are getting warmer and the UV index is on the rise. But there is more to skincare than just applying sunscreen or covering up to limit the risk of damage.
If you look after your skin before, during and after a ride you’ll feel better both on the bike and afterwards. The Premax range of creams has been created largely based on the work Cooper did early in his career as a sports therapist, and it now includes ointments of all kinds that offer benefits for everyone. Still, true to the brand’s heritage, there is plenty in the range that will help those living the cycling life.
There are creams for your chamois, as well as creams to limit the risk of exposure to UV rays. You’ll also find creams to warm your skin before exercise or help you recover after a work-out.
Premax is an Australian company that began when Cooper used his years of experience of treating athletes – in a wide range of sports – and realised that few were really looking after their skin in an appropriate manner.
Watch a long interview with Randall Cooper about skincare and cycling (click the link below).
The creams have become a regular part of my cycling routine and it isn’t just about protection from the sun. These are products I believe help me on the bike and off it and that’s why I took a moment during a recent ride to explain my experience.
Although my summary offers a glowing appraisal, it is not a paid promotion. Rather, I’ve shared my thoughts and observations because Premax has become such a regular part of my cycling routine – and I believe it improves my cycling experience.
The first Premax products I became familiar with were the Chamois Cream and Sunscreen. Randall Cooper sent a few samples to my office years ago and it wasn’t long before I started asking about the rest of the range.
I originally explained to Randall that I didn’t often ride with chamois cream; my time on the bike was limited and the anti-bacterial chamois largely did what it was meant to, limit the risk of infection. That said, when one ingrown hair on your undercarriage gets infected, it doesn’t take much for a minor sore to become a major one.
My first delivery of Premax product also happened to coincide with when I forced myself to find more time to ride. If you’re not used to longer days on the saddle, then it doesn’t take much for a saddle sore to form. When that happens, it’s not pretty – and it can be particularly painful if the infection is around the point of contact with the saddle.
That has happened to me in the past, and there have been times when the only solution was time off the bike to allow the healing process to take place.
The formula of the Premax chamois cream suits my skin well and I decided I’d use it when it seemed likely that I’d be on the bike for three hours or more. That soon progressed to using the cream for every ride. Since the pre-ride smearing has been part of my cycling routine, I’ve not once had a saddle sore. Not one infection. Not any issues at all.
In the video review (link above) I talk through my preparation sequence, and you’ll see me spread a good dose of chamois cream on a pair of MAAP knicks. (Note: it was a new tube, and plenty came out when I was filming. So, it’s worth pointing out that I’d normally use a little less than you see illustrated. Still, it’s best to have too much rather than not enough.)
Warm-up and recovery creams
After the chamois cream experience I started using other lotions in the Premax range, including the excellent sunscreen which has become an essential item. Perfectly suited to cycling, it isn’t as greasy as some sunscreens and seems to cope better when sweating in hot conditions.
I’ve combined the Weather Defence cream and the sunscreen with great results (ie. no windburn or sunburn, just like Randall suggested would be the case).
Beyond that, the other Premax items that are now in regular use are the Warm-Up Cream and Recovery Cream. My introduction to these was also thanks to the samples sent by Randall, but I now buy these in the one-litre pump pack option. (In an ideal world, I’d just top these bottles up once they ran out and I’m still keen to work out a way to manage this to avoid further contributing to the scourge of single-use plastics. Another topic for another time…)
These creams aren’t exactly cheap but you don’t need to use a lot to get the benefits. And the pump pack squirts just the right amount so that one squeeze accounts for one leg. This means that it’s also easier to incorporate the cream application in your daily routine.
I’m confident to say that, if you opt to try the smaller tube first, it won’t be long before you realise the one-litre bottle is a better buy.
There is a slight fragrance from both the warm-up and recovery creams but the smell is subtle and nothing close to the pungent all-invasive stink that you get from a product like Dencorub – which is pungent and usually far too extreme for a pre-ride warm-up option.
It takes a little while for the warm-up cream to kick into action but for mid-season rides I find it far better to use than leg warmers. Right now, in the Australian spring, it’s great for the cooler early starts, especially as it cools down the longer the ride goes. By the time the sun is warming up the day the effects of the cream are gone but only after doing what the name suggests it would: warm you up… which I’ve found good for both managing the weather as well as feeling like I’m ready to up my pace on the bike a little quicker than when I ride without it.
The recovery cream was a revelation for me when I started using it a few years ago. I like the cherry scent which is, again, subtle and not offensive. Randall has done his research and there’s a reason why he’s selected certain ingredients for this product but he’s also hesitant to make any outrageous claims about performance benefits.
After years of use, I’ve found that it limits the ‘restless legs’ sensation that I often get if I have a longer ride. It does help with recovery. And, as I conclude in the mid-ride review, there are several contributing factors including the fact that regular application of the cream after my rides prompts a moment of self-massage – and, by doing this, I feel where there are tight muscles in my legs.
I also joke that it could be the placebo effect as well but that is only because this review hasn’t been written with any associated scientific research. Rather, it’s a personal perspective of how I’ve responded to the Premax products and the conclusion is that using the various creams has only ever been a good experience.
Premax is a small Australian business that caters for a niche in the market that many reading this review will surely find interesting. You too may find it benefits your riding and perhaps even enhances your performance. It’s a product that I came to after an approach by the man behind the label and it’s something that is now part of my daily routine.
– By Rob Arnold