Rock climbing isn’t kind to hands. Thankfully, there are quite a few balms available that aim to revitalise, repair and moisturise the cracked, parched and cut mess a climber’s hands can become if they are not shown some loving care. I reviewed some of these balms a while ago and gave the highest score to Climb On balm. Now I’ve come across another balm that is right up there with it.
Beta Balm is made by Simplici from Chattanooga in Tennessee. Simplici describes Beta Balm as “a powerful herbal moisturizer formulated to naturally rejuvenate dry, cracked, sore and irritated skin.”
What’s in it?
The primary ingredient of most climbing balms is beeswax as it’s a natural humectant, acting to draw moisture from the air into the skin and locking it there. Beeswax is also said to be anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-allergenic as well as being a germicidal antioxidant and source of Vitamin A (which is good for cell development).
Beta Balm contains beeswax, although, interestingly, it’s the third ingredient and it’s mango butter that comes first. Mango butter is made from the kernels of the mango tree. It’s meant to be similar to shea or cocoa butter in terms of moisturising and softening the skin, but lighter. Mango butter also apparently contains high amounts of anti-oxidants and vitamins A, C and E – which are all good for the skin.
The next ingredient on the back of Beta Balm’s tin is babassu oil. This comes from the babassu palm and moisturises and softens the skin as well as forming a protective coat on it.
The other ingredients are:
Kokum butter, carnauba wax, walnut oil, shea nut oil, meadowfoam seed oil, lanolin, Vitamin E, myrrh, chickweed, burdock root, plantain, self-heal, white willow bark, Echinacea, calendula, fenugreek, confrey, thyme, rosemary, garlic and essential oils.
There’s a helpful summary of how these other ingredients are meant to help the skin on Simplici’s blog.
What’s it like?
Beta Balm comes in a generously sized puck that’s moulded on one side into a fun, target shape and that sits well in the palm of your hand. It spreads very easily and you need surprisingly little for it to be effective. A quick, short rub of the puck over the back and front of each hand is all you need before working the balm in.
It initially leaves your hands with an oily shine and the first time I used Beta Balm I thought I’d be leaving oily fingerprints around for quite some time. However, somewhat strangely, although the shine remains for a while after application, my hands don’t feel oily to the touch after about five minutes. This is relatively good for a climbing balm. Crucially, Beta Balm works impressively well at moisturising hands and leaving them feeling nice for a good period of time.
Beta Balm has a fairly strong smell when it’s first applied, but this fades quickly. The smell is distinctive, slightly sharp and complex. Simplici describe the smell as woodsy and herbal. My wife agrees with this, but I wouldn’t describe the smell as woodsy. To me Beta Balm smells of herbs, spices and citrus. It’s a smell I like and other people I’ve shared the balm with find the smell intriguing and certainly don’t dislike it. However, it’s a smell with personality and I suspect that a small number of people might not like it.
How does it compare against the competition?
Of all the balms I’ve tried in the past, it’s Climb On and Sypeland Climber’s Hand Balm that I’ve found most effective and that I’ve kept using myself. In my earlier review I gave Climb On a score of 33 and Sypeland a score of 29. On the same scoring system I give Beta Balm:
There are definite differences between these three balms. Climb On has more of a waxy feel to it than Beta Balm, which feels slightly oilier. This might be why Beta Balm beats Climb On for ease of application and absorbency, but that’s just a guess on my part. Beta Balm ties with Sypeland in terms of application and absorbency, which surprised me a little considering that Sypeland is a light cream and so easy to put on.
Beta Balm also works as well as Climb On and Sypeland’s at moisturising. Although I’m not convinced that Beta Balm works for quite as long as Climb On as a moisturiser, it’s not far behind.
Climb On has a notably gentler, less distinctive smell than Beta Balm and Sypeland and this might be a deciding factor for some people when deciding which to buy. However, deciding which smells better is pretty subjective.
Overall, Beta Balm is excellent and it’s something I’m going to keep using to keep my hands in good shape.
Declaration: Simplici gave me a free sample specifically for me to review. This hasn’t influenced my opinion.