Skin Care Product Review

Skin Care products may not be sexy like a shiny, smooth cam, or a new, soft and supple rope, but after a few days at the Red River Gorge, all you’ll be thinking about is how to nurse your sore tips.  Enter skin care.  Today I’ll be reviewing four products:  Climb On!, Joshua Tree Climbing Salve, Burt’s Bees Cuticle Creme, and O’Keeffe’s Working Hands.

Working Hands Joshua Tree Salve Burt's Bees Climb On!

The skin products reviewed. No Climb On! because I used it months ago.

Climb On!

Climb On! - Photo courtesy of Climb On!

The Climb On! Bar is a very good product.  I got the mini bar to try it out and was pleased with its strong healing powers.  It seemed to get my sore skin up and running again faster than regular hand cream (ie: Jergens).  The gentle smell is also nice and not overpowering.  The bar is easy to use.  It’s like a small bar of soap that you take out of the package, rub it on the desired areas, and then rub it in with your hands.  Climb On! is greasy, but not too greasy like some others.  It is somewhat expensive.  Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of Climb On! on my hands as I used it up several months ago.


-Nice smell

-Easy to apply

-Heals well




Joshua Tree Climbing Salve

Joshua Tree Climbing Salve

J Tree Salve is my least favorite of the four products reviewed.  To start, it is very greasy.  This single attribute turned me completely off.  Once applied, anything you touch will leave a grease spot.  J Tree Salve is as expensive as Climb On! but is not nearly as good.  It stays in the container and you have to rub your finger in it to get it on.  Then you can spread it to other fingers.  It is not as easy to apply as a bar type product, especially because the container is so small.  I got the small container of J Tree Salve to test.  I also did not encounter very good healing properties.  I think the smell is too overpowering, but smell is a personal preference in this case.

J Tree Salve greasy applied fingers

J Tree Salve on fingers. See how greasy!


-All natural composition


-Very greasy


-Mediocre healing properties

-Difficult to apply with small container

Burt’s Bees Cuticle Creme

Burt's Bees Cuticle Creme

I consider Burt’s Bees Creme to be a specialty product.  It is greasy, but much thicker than J Tree Salve.  It has a paste-like consistency.  Therefore, it is not very good to apply to finger tips.  However, it is excellent for cuticles, as the product is aptly named.  It has very good healing properties for dry, cracked cuticles or other small, spot applications.  Burt’s Bees would be great for a small cut or scrape on the back of the hand.  It has a nice lemon-butter scent as well.  The container is wide and shallow for easy application.

Cuticle Creme small cut greasy

Burt's Bees on small cut. Slightly greasy.


-Great for cuticles

-Nice scent

-Easy to apply

-Good healing properties


-Only for spot applications because of thickness and greasiness

O’Keeffe’s Working Hands


O'Keeffe's Working Hands

Working Hands is by far, the best product of the four reviewed.  It is much less expensive than the others, and better overall.  Working Hands is not greasy at all.  It absorbs quickly, so much so that you could apply this and go climbing soon after.  It has no obvious scent.  The jar is wide and shallow so it can be applied easily and rubbed into your sore finger tips.  In my opinion, the healing properties are the best of the four.  I had never heard of Working Hands before, but a friend turned me on to it.  And don’t go looking for this product at a climbing retail shop… a big box home improvement store is the place to find this one.  This is the stuff to get!

O'Keeffe's applied fingers not greasy rubbed in

Working Hands product on left. Rubbed in on right. Not greasy!


-Best healing properties

-Not greasy

-Not expensive (compared to others)

-Easy to apply

-Absorbs quickly


-No scent… if that’s important to you.

  • Patty

    My hands get ripped up not only from athletic training, but also from exposure to art products, dyes, and photographic chemicals…I’ve used Burt’s Bees, but will definitely try the other products you have reviewed to see how they work for me…thanks for the tips!

    • Gif

      Be sure to check out Working Hands! It’s my favorite of the bunch. My hands get torn up from weight training as well. Thanks for commenting, Patty!

  • Dan

    That Working Hands is awesome! I was down at the Red and meet a few people that were using it, so I picked up a container and it really helps! Keeps you sending day-after-day!

    • Gif

      The Red is really hard on the tips! Glad to hear Working Hands is helping you send. Thanks Dan!

  • Jersteck

    Working Hands Rules, best that I’ve found so far! My second favorite is called Mad Gab’s Hand and Body Balm. It’s similar to J-Tree Salve, but slightly less greasy, less expensive, I have found it work a little better. I’ve also used Badger Balm, which is incredibly greasy and does not work that well. I’ve also heard of folks using diaper rash cream. I’ve only tried it once….my opinion is still out on that.

    • Gif

      Very cool! I’ve never heard of Mad Gab’s. I think it’s great climbers are finding new creams that aren’t marketed to climbers. The “climbing specific” creams are heavily marketed and are therefore, very expensive. There is better stuff out there that is cheaper! Thanks for stopping by and for the comment.

  • Anonymous

    I have burt’s bees hand salve. Probably the product that would be more in line with the working mans hands more so than the cuticle cream

    much like the other product, it is a bit greasy and that turns people off. I enjoy the scent and it helps my hands when they get dry/cracked from working outside. I imagine climbing would be similar.

    • Gif

      That hand salve is probably more like the Joshua Tree Salve if it is greasy. Working Hands is not greasy at all! Check it out! Thanks for stopping by

    • genfourth

      I have been using this as well. If you like JT salve but want more for your money then I recommend Burt’s Bees hand salve. It is greasy but not as greasy as JT salve. I have to wait a few minutes before touching things for it to absorb. Next I’m going to try working hands…

      • Gif

        I think you’ll like Working Hands.

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  • Nicolehays132

    Interesting. Like he said, it’s a little greasy, but i love the smell, it has a very calming scent,  and personally, I have found great results with the J-Tree salve, especially when my hands were cracked and finger tips raw from climbing. It worked quickly to restore my hands, so I could get back on the rock.

    • Gif

      The smell is nice, but I couldn’t get over how greasy it was. Can’t touch anything after you apply that stuff. I like the smell of Climb On! and would prefer that over J Tree due to the decreased grease factor. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Nicole!

  • Cloudnorth

    I found JTREE soaked right in and healed super fast. Climb on never seemed to absorb, and I’d wake up in the am with it all over my pillow. JTREE gets my vote… Maybe you used too much if it was greasy for more than a few minutes.

    • Gif

      I have heard from many that you need to use JTree sparingly.  I think you may be right, I might have used too much.  Thanks for the comment!!

  • Joshua Williams

    I tend to prefer a little less calused and a little more elasticity in my skin. I got a sample of Gold Bond Ultimate Healing after comp and have used that. I never enjoyed J-Tree or ClimbOn but am excited for O’Keefe’s.

    • Gif

      Thanks for the comment Joshua.  I’m pretty psyched on O’Keefe’s.  Use it all the time!

  • Guy Schetrit

    I must add two more recommendations to this list:
    ProBalm which is thick and Tip Juice, my favorite.
    Give it a try… 

    • Gif

      Thanks Guy!  I’ll be sure to look into those two.

  • Dorje

    I stumbled across CeraVe a few years ago when my roommate had psoraiasis. Since then, it blows away every other product on the market! Doesn’t smell, not greasy and it actually heals your hands because it contains ceramides which are part of the skin building/healing process.

    Not only do I climb rocks, but I climb towers, wind turbines and am a rope access technician. If my hands are cracked and bleeding, it’s a dangerous position. My climbing partner and business partner tried it and his hands were 100% in 72 hours. We charge a lot of money to climb and this is one “secret” that works and doesn’t contain petroleum. And it was recommended by a real Doctor.

    Good luck and be safe!

    • Gif

      Awesome! Thanks for commenting Dorje. I will definitly check that out!

  • Roxanne

    is this to make the skin less dry after rock climbing?

    • Gif

      Yes, these products are designed to moisurize and repair skin after climbing.

  • Samantha

    Something I’ve recently found is Monkey Hands. It’s made for Crossfit and Gymnastics, but I’ve been using it for Rock Climbing purposes. I can’t live without it anymore. Just thought I’d share.

    • Gif

      Thanks for the comment and recommendation, Samantha. With the increasing popularity of Crossfit, I have noticed many creams and salves marketed to Crossfit folks. I’ve wondered if it’s the same stuff as the climbing salves out there, just in a different package.

  • briannahuber

    Thanks for this review. I’ve used O’Keeffe’s Working Hands and nothing else because my mom bought a jar a while back when she was trying out different hand moisturizers and ended up giving it to me because she liked something else better. It works wonderfully for climbing purposes, is non-greasy, and a little goes a long way, so I’ve had no reason to explore other options. I’ve been curious about ClimbOn and J-Tree Salve though. I’m still curious to smell ClimbOn now and would use it if I won a jar at a comp or something, but otherwise, I’m sticking to my jar of Working Hands. It sounds like my loyalty is well-placed. 🙂

    • Gif

      Hey Brianna, thanks for the comment. For general use, Working Hands is great. If your tips are in bad shape or you have some cuts, Climb On! and Beta Balm are my favorites. Be sure to check out my full review of Climb On! and I will be posting a video review of Beta Balm in the coming week.

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