I have wimpy skin. An hour and a half in the gym and I’m desperately looking for crimps to avoid worsening the jug-rash blisters I acquired warming up. After roughly four Pawtuckaway boulder problems–three if I’m in Blaire Woods or stupidly decide, once again, to repeat the sit-start to the crimp problem–and my fingertips are an angry hot pink. Give me three pitches of gritty sandstone, and I know I won’t be able to make toast for breakfast the next day or the day after that.
Okay, enough about my skin problems and now a bit about what I do about them: While climbing I tape my raw tips and occasional flappers with the narrowest strips of Metolius climbing tape possible–a set-up that I find sticks to my fingers best. After climbing I liberally apply climbOn (in lotion bar form) to all problem skin areas and often to the rest of my hands too.
I don’t know if climbOn actually speeds the healing process, especially when it comes to flappers, but it certainly soothes my stinging skin and makes me feel like I’m doing something to remedy the situation. I’ve found my lotion bar to be most helpful for treating dry, cracked skin after outdoor climbing in the winter (45-degree temps or cooler) and after long winter gym sessions when the dry air and my even drier chalk have sucked all the moisture from my naturally dry skin. However, I use climbOn year-round to rehydrate my skin after the occasion long summer gym session–chalk is very effective at drying out my skin in every season–and to soothe worn, pink fingertips after outdoor sessions on sharp granite or gritty sandstone.
One of the simultaneous pros and cons of climbOn and other lotion bars is the waxy texture. After application, one is unable to touch anything, without greasing it up, for five to 15 minutes depending on how one has slathered on. This is great for forcing you to save/rest your skin for a few extra minutes, but poor application timing–before you’ve hit play on Sharma’s newest YouTube video–can lead to a greasy mess.
That said, my favorite thing about climbOn is that it’s 100 percent edible, meaning I don’t have to worry about putting harmful chemicals on my hands or mouth, when I inevitably use my lotion bar as chapstick, which it works fantastically as. I’ve also used climbOn to hydrate dry, cracked heals and ankles after climbing in cool temps and to sooth scruff burn on my chin when my significant other hasn’t shaved for a week or two.
There are tons of skin salves and creams out there (climbOn, Joshua Tree, Bag Balm, good O’l lotion), and I’d recommend trying several out to see what works best for you. I’ve had success with my climbOn lotion bar, which I’ve used for a year and a half and still have a tiny bit left of; however, if you have oily skin, another product might work better for you, or not.
Overall, 4.5 stars for versatility, packability (my 1 oz bar pictured above fits easily in the top pouch of my backpack), and eatability, without having made my skin iron strong, which I have a feeling it will never become.