James Taylor is a strong rock climber based in North Wales. He's one of those Dark Horse characters who's quietly cranking big numbers (E9, French 8b+, Font 8A+). He's also been on two big-walling trips to Brazil, and you can see a film about one of those trips here. James's strength comes from hours and hours of training, so he knows how to make sure his skin stands up to the test. Read James's thoughts on ClimbSkin's Hand Cream and Silicium Gel. 

I just want to start by saying, I have possibly the worst skin type for climbing: wet and sweaty during climbing, and then dry and cracked in the evenings. I tend to go through this cycle most days when climbing, using more chalk than most, and then suffering with the consequences of dry skin afterwards. I've tried various different creams and balms in the past; some helped a little, but most did nothing, resulting in the product being left at the bottom of my bag after only a few weeks of use. Chalkbloc asked me to try out the ClimbSkin products, give them a long trial and then hear my thoughts. Here goes.

If you want to climb often or hard, you need to look after your skin! James following some of the ClimbSkin advice here.

Healthy-looking skin

Hand Cream
I've been applying a small amount (see picture below) twice a day, five days a week for the last six weeks, washing my hands free of any chalk and applying it directly after climbing and then repeating the process before going to bed. I've used the file to sand down any particularly dry or calloused sections, and to keep my fingers free of any lips or bumps that could snag into a flapper.

The Effects
I started using it whilst climbing indoors in summer, then went on a two-week sport climbing trip before returning to indoor climbing in colder temperatures. During the summer, my skin took a battering and has needed more attention than ever. Hot wet weather forced everyone indoors, and resulted in some poor skin conditions and painful tips. Using the cream twice a day stopped my skin for hardening and drying out as it usually does under these conditions. I use Metolious Super-Chalk (with drying agents) as my hands sweat a lot; however, after periods of heavy use, this usually leaves me with dry cuticles and hard, cracked tips. The ClimbSkin cream really helped me maintain a thick flexible layer of skin on my tips, preventing them from drying or cracking as much as usual under these conditions. 

Next, I went on a sport climbing holiday to Rodellar (Catalunya), climbing ten out of fourteen days, swimming in the river most days and generally abusing my hands. Most of the days were quite hot (25°C), with a cool wind blowing through to gorge, which gave good, dry conditions. I had my usual issue of super sweaty hands whilst climbing and used several bags of chalk on the trip. With this in mind, I'd have expected to end up with really dry, hard skin in the evenings and sweaty skin that was prone to tearing whilst climbing - my usual winning combination! However, after sticking to my skin care routine, I was surprised that by the end of the trip my fingers were looking relatively health with only one small crack on the tip of my right index. I will definitely continue this routine now I'm back in the UK, and back climbing indoors regularly.

General Thoughts
The cream drys quickly, allowing you to get on with your day and not have to wave your hands around or avoid holding anything for half an hour. It sinks into your skin and gets to work quickly, so plus points there. Unlike some other products I've used, it doesn't leave a residue or greasy skin, and smells nice too. The pot is small and doesn't break easily - mine is left in a small skincare bag at the bottom of my pack, which generally gets thrown about on a daily basis.

It's £15 for the cream. At 2 uses per day, 5 days a week x 6 weeks, this equals 25p per use. However, I've only used ½ of the pot in this time, so it's actually more like 12p per use. When you think of it like this, the initial investment for a pot of cream doesn't seem like much for a considerable improvement to your skin conditions.

Silicium Gel
I've been using an alternative product for a few years to massage my forearms and elbows after climbing, so was already convinced this product would work after a quick read of the ingredients. Basically, anything that contains active ingredients such as Arnica, Menthol and Silicium works wonders on sore arms after a day of climbing.
I followed my usual routine of massaging my forearms after climbing, running my palms and knuckles from my wrist up to my elbow, kneading the muscles with my thumbs, and slowly stretching out my forearms. This product smells quite strongly of menthol and can fill a car with the smell, making your eyes water and leaving you feeling like you need some fresh air. The Silicium gel does leave you with a sticky forearm, and wanting to wash your hands afterwards, and also makes you smell of menthol for about thirty minutes after use. This can be quite annoying, especially if you've just applied your skin cream; I made this mistake quite a few times before getting my post-climbing routine in the right order. I also found, if I didn't want to smell really strongly of Menthol, I needed to either use the gel several hours before going out, or use it before having a shower. However, I'm not sure I'd be getting all the benefits if I just washed it off after massaging my arms.

General thoughts
Overall, I though this product is really effective and I'd highly recommend using it after climbing to promote recovery and avoid injury. However, be warned - you're going to smell like a chewing gum factory and have sticky arms for about an hour after using it!

James about to use the Silicium Gel after training.

ClimbSkin are online here. You can try their Organic Silicium Gel or natural, healing and hydrating Cream

James Taylor is sponsored by 3rd Rock and is a vegan. Follow James on Instagram.