How to Use Less Chalk

Boulderer topping out

This white substance we call ‘chalk’ in the climbing world is actually magnesium carbonate. At first sight, it seems pretty harmless. High-quality chalk is so pure that you can eat it. So what is the problem?

It’s pretty bad for your skin. Chalk dries out your skin and dry skin is weak skin. Wash your hands after climbing and apply a moisturizer!
Chalk belongs on your fingers, not the holds! Too much chalk actually reduces friction. So brush your holds!

Chalk in the gym gets messy real quick. Spills will happen. Chalkdust clouds are not healthy. The gym staff will thank you for using less.

Chalk-bleached holds on the rock are ugly and tick-marks spoil the challenge for the next climber.

“But chalk works!” I hear you say. Maybe it does. But you don’t need nearly as much as you think. We challenge you to use less. Think twice before you chalk up. You will be surprised!

How much chalk you need depends on two major factors: Skin Type (Oily vs. Dry) & Sweat Production (High vs. Low).

People with dry skin can get away with barely using any chalk at all. If you have naturally dry skin, use Chalk Cream as a base layer at the beginning of your session and occasionally re-apply Chalk Cream to your fingertips. Make sure you wash your hands after climbing and apply a moisturizer to keep your finger skin healthy and strong. Keep moisturizing your hands between climbing sessions.

If you have naturally oily or sweaty skin, use Chalk Cream as a base layer and re-apply Chalk Cream to your fingertips as needed. If you are one of the unlucky 10% suffering from excessively sweaty skin, you can top up with a little bit of loose chalk. Wash your hands after your session and apply a moisturizer. You may need to moisturize less between climbing sessions than people with naturally dry skin.

You will find that using Chalk Cream as a base layer significantly reduces your need for loose chalk. If you still need loose chalk, always apply it to your fingers, never to the holds. When applying loose chalk to your fingers, it should form a thin layer without grains.

Reserve loose chalk for the hardest moves, long climbs where re-applying chalk cream is not possible or whenever there is an objective danger like a ground fall.


  • Apply Chalk Cream as a base layer to your whole hand.
  • Re-apply Chalk Cream to your fingertips as needed.
  • Use loose chalk only if all else fails.
  • Always brush your holds and wash your hands after climbing.

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