The Ultimate Skincare Kit For Climbers

Climber showing hands

For the best climbers good skin can make the difference between failure and sending the project but regular climbers benefit from a good skincare routine too. Good skin helps you put in a few more session on a trip or simply live everyday life without trashed finger skin from your indoor bouldering sessions.

That’s why we think all dedicated climbers should build a basic skincare routine and make sure they have the tools to take care of their skin within easy reach. In this article we’ll help you build a skincare kit that fits your climbing routine.

While you can buy skincare kits from a couple of major climbing brands nothing beats customising your own to fit your own unique personal skincare needs. Everyone’s skin is different & everyone’s routine is different. What goes in your bags is yours.

We’ll describe the ultimate skincare kit with all the tools you possibly would want and we’re going to split it up in essentials & optional add-ons.

The Essentials

  • A Good Moisturiser. The number one thing you want in your kit is a good moisturising cream. Any generic store-bought moisturiser will do but if you want the best for your hands pick one from a proper climbing brand. Climbing brands add ingredients that help you rebuild skin faster. E.g. our repair cream was inspired by creams to treat burn wounds, has been dermatologically tested & is engineered not to feel greasy. A good moisturiser is your daily go-to tool for skin maintenance because it helps you keep your skin strong and supple. Dried out skin is prone to cracking but elastic skin is strong & sticky. Skin elasticity actually improves friction.
  • A Beeswax Balm. Beeswax has been used by climbers for decades because it’s the fastest way to restore skin. Beeswax works because it is greasy. This helps keep the moisture where it belongs : inside your skin. And the extra grease helps your fingers from drying out too much, especially in winter. Because it is so greasy most climbers tend to apply beeswax balm overnight or late in the day, when it’s clear no more climbing will be done. Many brands exist, we think we make a pretty good one but in a pinch regular lip will do. Think of beeswax balm as a heavy-duty overnight repair routine for your skin.
  • A Sanding Tool. This can be as simple as putting a couple of sheets of sandpaper in your bag, a custom-made sanding tool for climbers or a construction sanding block. You want to keep this within reach easy reach quick touch-up before, during & after climbing. You will use the sanding tool to remove unwanted callus & bits of skin that might catch on edges. To avoid flappers & tears you want to keep your skin smooth. The best time to sand your fingers is actually during your climbing session because that is the most likely time you will actually be paying attention to your fingertips.
  • Finger Tape. Tape covers so many uses in climbing. You can use it to make tape gloves for crack climbing, to support your tendons after injuries, to cover up flappers & to keep climbing when your fingertips have worn out completely. It’s best to buy tape specifically made for climbing because it tends to be more sticky. 

The Add-Ons

  • A Bar of Soap. We’re actually on the fence whether this belongs in the “essentials” category or not. It’s really important to wash your hands quickly after climbing. You don’t want to walk around all day skin dried out from the chalk. Not to speak of all the dirt that will inevitably get into small cuts on your skin & slow down recovery. A small bar of soap in a little plastic or tin box is handy to have on you.
  • Disinfectant. This is another one that probably belongs in the essentials category. It’s really important to disinfect small cuts and scrapes. You don’t want infections to slow down the healing process of your skin.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide. This one also blurs the line between “skincare kit” and “first aid kit”. You can use hydrogen peroxide to deep clean wounds. Both disinfectant and hydrogen peroxide can be bought in small plastic vials at your pharmacy.
  • Pumice Stone. An alternative to sandpaper is a pumice stone. These can be synthetic or natural but work in similar ways. It’s best to use them on what skin in the shower or bathtub to remove excessive callus. This is probably not a good fit for every skincare kit bag. It’s more of a use-at-home-thing but it’s something that may want to bring on longer climbing trips. Using pumice on wet skin works so much better!
  • * Benzoin. You can use tincture of benzointo roughen up skin before applying tape. Makes the tape more sticky. Apply it to finger tips. Remember that you can apply it to make tape stick better when taping up a wound.
  • Nail Clippers. It’s important to maintain the edges of your nails so they don’t snag on anything. Nail or cuticle clippers can also be used to remove excess hardened skin around cuts. Nail clippers complement the sanding tool, they’re far easier to use to remove bigger chunks of unwanted skin. Cuticle clippers are more expensive but tend to offer more control and precision.
  • Razor Blades. Some climbers prefer razor blades or even a straight-edge razor to nail clippers. This is especially true for climbers with excessively strong callus buildups. Sometimes a razor blade is the only practical thing that will cut through.
  • Vitamin E Capsules. Vitamin E is crucial in rebuilding damaged skin. A nice local high dose of pure Vitamin E does wonders for your skin. The easiest way to apply such high doses is to buy gel capsules for oral use. Break ‘em open and smear the gel on your fingertips. Done.
  • Super Glue. The active ingredient in super glue was actually developed to help medics quickly close wounds on casualties in warzones. You want the kind that contains cyan-acrylate. You can use it to glue shut flappers or to make finger tape stick better to the skin.
  • Finger Cots. Finger cots, sometimes called “finger condoms” can be used to completely cover an infected finger wound to make sure it stays clean. Another use for finger cots is to help flappers heal. You stuff the wound with beeswax & then cover it with a finger cot overnight.

That’s it! Now you know all the handy little items that can help you take care of your finger skin. We of course offer a skincare kit ourselves. It offers everything in the “essentials” list and some more.

Photo by Allan Was