Penetrex VS Biofreeze – Which Is Better? (Personal Experience)

Penetrex VS Biofreeze - Which Is Better? (My Personal Review)

It’s time to take a look at 2 of the most popular creams for arthritis – I’m talking about Penetrex vs Biofreeze. 

To be honest – these creams are very similar. That’s why they’re both very popular. But I managed to find a few differences:

  • price
  • ingredients

So which of these 2 creams is better? Which one works best for arthritis and chronic pain?

I tried to compare them at several chapters – so that I could pick a winner. So is it Penetrex or Biofreeze? It’s time to check them out. 


#1 – Ingredients – WINNER: Penetrex

When it comes to what it contains, Penetrex can beat Biofreeze easily. 

So let’s check out the ingredients by turn:

1. BIOFREEZE – it only contains 1 ingredient:

  • menthol (4% or 10.5% – depending on the form)

Now – menthol is a pretty common ingredient in creams, because it numbs the painful area and you stop feeling a thing. 

But no matter how good it was – one ingredient is still too little, in my opinion. At least for a cream with such promises.

Penetrex VS Biofreeze - Which Is Better? (My Personal Review)

2. PENETREX – unlike Biofreeze, it has lots of substances inside. I will only mention the most important ones:

However, Penetrex also has a problem:

  • it doesn’t mention the exact dose

This means that you can’t tell how much Arnica Extract you have inside. You can even have 0.001 mg (which is useless) – but still count Arnica as an ingredient.

Do you get my point? That’s the biggest problem of Penetrex.

My Conclusion:

Either way, the ingredients from Penetrex are above the ones from Biofreeze. 

They don’t have any doses mentioned, but there are more as a number. So judging after the ingredients, Penetrex would convince me to buy it more than Biofreeze.



#2 – Texture – WINNER: Penetrex

I liked Penetrex’s consistency way more than the one of Biofreeze. 

One thing I want to mention – I will analyze the cream form of both (not the roll-on or the spray, just the cream).

I used the cream form for both – so I can speak from experience.

1. BIOFREEZE – it’s one of the worst creams I used – in terms of texture:

  • sticks to your hands
  • very hard to rinse completely
  • it stays on your hands even after you wash them 
  • it can irritate your eyes (if you touch them with your hands)

So from this point of view – I really would not recommend Biofreeze (at least the cream form). It’s super uncomfortable to use.

2. PENETREX – I actually like it, compared to most creams I tried:

  • not greasy at all
  • doesn’t stick to your hands
  • soaks in completely in about 10 minutes

Also, it doesn’t stay on your hands after you rinse. So that’s a big advantage – compared to Biofreeze.


Penetrex is much better in terms of texture. It gets absorbed pretty fast and you can apply it easily.

On the other hand, it’s a bit more complicated with Biofreeze – at least if you choose the cream form. 

That’s why it was really easy to pick Penetrex as the winner at this chapter.



#3 – How Fast It Works – WINNER: Biofreeze

Though it looks weaker at first sight, Biofreeze works better than Penetrex. At least on the short term.

So let me explain:

Penetrex VS Biofreeze - Which Is Better? (Personal Review)1. BIOFREEZE – when you start using it, it seems really promising:

  • the part where you apply it feels chills at first
  • then it starts feeling numb
  • the pain decreases within minutes

Now – there’s one thing I need to point out.

It’s pretty obvious that Biofreeze doesn’t treat the pain:

  • it actually numbs the painful spot
  • so you stop feeling much there

That’s why the pain decreases. When Biofreeze’s effect goes away – the pain comes back as strong as before. So it’s not a pain treatment – it only hides the pain.

But in terms of effect, you can feel a change within minutes.

Penetrex VS Biofreeze - Which Is Better? (Personal Review)2. PENETREX – you could be disappointed at first:

  • it doesn’t work from the start
  • it needs to accumulate in the tissue (before it starts working)
  • in my case, it took a week before it started working for real

So Penetrex does decrease the pain – but it’s way slower than Biofreeze. At least judging after my experience with it.

Also, it has the same problem as Biofreeze – it only hides the pain, it doesn’t treat it. But that’s something normal for creams.


In terms of how they work, Penetrex and Biofreeze are pretty equal.

They both mask the pain – instead of treating it (that’s why I don’t recommend creams in general for arthritis).

But the difference is that Biofreeze works immediately, and Penetrex needs to accumulate in order to work. So it needs a few days – at least.

So if you need a fast cream – Biofreeze is better from these 2.



#4 – Effect – WINNER: Both

Here I would consider 3 major aspects:

  • how long lasts the effect
  • how many times you have to apply the cream per day
  • if the pain decreases completely or not

1. BIOFREEZE – it has both good and bad points at this chapter:

  • the effect doesn’t last a lot
  • you have to reapply it every 1-2 hours (depending on how strong is your pain)
  • it only numbs the painful area

So I would normally not recommend Biofreeze – judging after how it works.

It’s pretty uncomfortable to apply it so often, plus that my pain didn’t go away completely.

2. PENETREX – it’s better than most creams, but it still has some downsides here:

  • the effect lasts for about 2-3 hours
  • so you have to apply it about 6-7 times per day
  • it needs a longer time to start working

So even though its effect lasts longer than in Biofreeze, Penetrex needs a longer time to start working.

You may even give it up in the meantime, thinking that it doesn’t work. In reality, it will work – but it just needs a few days at least. 


Both creams have good and bad points – but overall, their effect is around the same level.

Biofreeze is stronger, but you need to reapply it more often. Penetrex’s effect lasts longer, but you need to use it constantly for a couple of days before you start seeing some results.

So you can pick your winner here – because for me, they’re pretty equal.



#5 – Smell – WINNER: Penetrex

Maybe this doesn’t sound an important aspect – but when you have to apply a cream 5 times per day, believe me, it starts to matter.

So here’s the thing:

1. BIOFREEZE – it’s one of the worst creams I tried at this chapter. All 3 forms have a terrible smell:

  • it’s very strong and stingy
  • the smell stays on your skin even after it soaks in
  • it can bother your pets

Now – the smell isn’t bad, it actually feels very fresh – like menthol. But its intensity is what bothers me (and probably everyone else). 

If you ever tried Biofreeze, you probably know what I’m talking about.

2. PENETREX – the label claims it’s fragrance-free, but I wouldn’t agree 100%:

  • there is a very light smell
  • unless you’re very sensitive, it won’t bother you

So it’s not the kind of intense smell, like in Biofreeze. 


Though I personally like the smell of menthol, it feels way too intense in Biofreeze.

So overall the smell of that cream is too strong for a normal person.

On the other hand, Penetrex has a very light fragrance. That’s why it wins at this chapter easily.



#6 – Price – Winner: BIOFREEZE

If price is an important factor for you – Biofreeze is probably a better choice. 

Now – the price depends on what form you’re choosing (cream, spray or roll-on).

But I will only include the cream form for both – so that I can give you a fair comparison. So here’s the thing:

Penetrex VS Biofreeze - Which Is Better? (Personal Review)

1. BIOFREEZE – overall, it’s much cheaper than Penetrex:

  • one tube costs around $11.38 (the lowest price I could find)
  • the size is 4 ounces

Honestly, this price is really good. If you take a look at most creams from the market – they tend to cost a lot more for this size (over $20).

So even though I’m not a fan of Biofreeze, I must admit that its price is a big advantage.

2. PENETREX – it’s not super expensive, but it costs more than Biofreeze:

  • on bottle costs around $20
  • it weighs 2 ounces

Now – compared to Biofreeze, it’s a lot more expensive. I mean, it has 2 oz while the other one has double this size. 

So yes, Penetrex is pretty expensive for what it does. Some supplements have a similar price – and they work 10 times better.

So that’s another reason why I wouldn’t recommend buying Penetrex – instead of natural a supplement. 


To be honest, none of these creams is worth buying for this money.

I mean, they don’t treat the cause – they only hide the pain for a little while. That’s why I wouldn’t spend my money on them or on any other cream.

But among these 2 – Biofreeze is much cheaper and it contains a higher quantity. So it’s clearly the winner when it comes to money.



#7 – Forms – WINNER: Biofreeze

Both Biofreeze and Penetrex are creams – that’s pretty clear.

But can you find them in other forms as well? Is there any major difference in price? Let’s check out each of them:

1. BIOFREEZE – it’s available in 3 forms:

  • cream or gel
  • roll-on
  • spray

There are no major differences between them in price or effectiveness.

The spray contains a higher percent of menthol (10.5% vs 4%) – but more than half of that quantity gets lost into the air. So it doesn’t work any better.

The only thing worth mentioning is that the roll-on is more comfortable to use:

  • it doesn’t stick to your hands
  • you can apply it easier than the cream

So I would probably recommend you the roll-on, if you really wanted to buy Biofreeze.

Penetrex VS Biofreeze - Which Is Better? (Personal Review)

2. PENETREX – you can find it in 2 forms:

  • cream
  • roll-on

Now – the roll-on is a bit more expensive, but that’s because it contains a higher quantity (3 oz vs 2 oz in the cream). 

Other than that, it contains the exact ingredients and the cream.

And in this case, I don’t think it’s easier to apply – I mean the creams rinses easily and it doesn’t smell too strong. So you can use either the roll-on or the cream, there’s no difference.


Biofreeze is more versatile – if you don’t like the cream or the roll-on, you can choose the spray. They all have similar prices, which is great.

On the other hand – Penetrex doesn’t have a spray version and the roll-on is more expensive than the cream.

For some people, those extra dollars could matter.



My Final Verdict – Penetrex Or Biofreeze?

Short answer: Probably none. They both hide the pain for a little while – but they don’t treat the cause.

And this makes them pretty useless if you have arthritis or chronic joint pain:

  • they only mask the pain
  • they don’t improve the cause in any way
  • the problem behind usually worsens if you’re only using a cream

So to me – they’re both a way to trick your body.

However, if you have a minor pain, injury or anything of this type – they aren’t bad at all.

In this case, I would probably recommend Biofreeze – but that’s just because it works faster and it’s cheaper.

Penetrex needs a longer while to start working, so you probably want some fast results.

But if you have a form of arthritis or any chronic pain – I really advise you not to spend your money on a cream. It’s not going to do anything real – believe me:

In the end, a supplement is going to make a difference for your pain, believe me. So that’s what I would choose.

Heather Pharm.D.

Heather Tracy Foley is a Pharmacy graduate, Blogger and Author with a vast experience in health sciences. She has a particular interest in joint pain and rheumatology and spent several years studying health problems. You can find her on Pinterest or via email.

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4 Responses

  1. Derry Frizz says:

    Penetrex works much better for me, but it’s true that it doesn’t work immediately. I had to wait 2 days before I could feel my pain improving, but I think it’s worth the wait.

    Haven’t tried Biofreeze, though. It really is much cheaper, but what’s the point if it has all those drawbacks? 

  2. Heather says:

    Hi Derri. In terms of effect, Biofreeze and Penetrex are pretty close. The only difference is that Penetrex needs a bit longer to work, but its effect also lasts longer. Biofreeze works instantly, but you need to reapply it very often (1-2 hours).

    Now – I don’t see Biofreeze as having so many drawbacks, but it’s surely not my favorite cream ever. It basically has a great price – that’s why it’s so popular.

    But for arthritis or joint pain, I wouldn’t recommend any cream. At least not as the main treatment. Supplements and pills work much better – whether they’re for rheumatoid or for osteoarthritis. They work on the inside so they treat the root of the problem.

    If you only use creams, your problem will eventually worsen. So I really recommend a supplement instead of any of these creams. Hope this helps.

  3. johnson says:

    i prefer australian dream, it costs a bit of more money but it works better than both penetrex and biofreeze put together, my opinion.

  4. Heather says:

    Hi Johnson, thanks for letting me know your opinion.

    I tried Australian Dream and I was quite satisfied with the results – but the price is a bit too high, in my opinion. I personally didn’t feel like it was working much better than Penetrex or Biofreeze. I appreciated that it wouldn’t numb the whole area where you applied it (like Biofreeze does), but that was pretty much it.

    So I’m not sure if I would spend my money on it, if I had to buy it again. I would probably prefer Penetrex or another cream called Blue Emu.

    However – keep in mind that no cream is a proper treatment for arthritis or chronic pain. Since they’re only hiding the pain, they can actually worsen your real problem on the long term.

    That’s why I really advise people to choose a supplement instead – because that’s what treats both the cause and the pain. Plus, many times they’re even cheaper than creams.

    Thanks again for letting me know your opinion on Biofreeze and Penetrex.

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