The crossFIXE range of products is meant to sooth, moisturise and provide maintenance for your skin before and after training. It’s made using all natural, food-grade ingredients by the same people who make the ClimbOn range of skincare products for rock climbers. I was curious to see if the crossFIXE range was as good as ClimbOn and whether it does anything different or better that would encourage me to use it instead of ClimbOn.
When trying out these crossFIXE products I used the same approach and scoring system as I’ve used in my previous reviews of balms for climbers. This uses several different measures of the effectiveness of each balm and gives each a score out of ten (with 1 being poor and 10 being fantastic) against each measure.
- Application – how easy the product is to apply to the hands.
- Absorbency – how quickly the product absorbs into the skin and/or stops leaving your hands feeling oily or greasy.
- Longevity – how long the product keeps your hands feeling nice and moisturised.
- Smell – this is my estimation of how pleasant, or not, the product smells. It’s a pretty subjective measure, but it’s important, as your hands may smell of the balm for a while after it’s put on.
crossFIXE Hands Crème
Ingredients: organic theobroma cacao (Cocoa) seed butter, organic cocos neucifera (coconut) oil, organic coffee Arabica (coffee extract), organic camellia sinensis (green tea leaf extract), vaccinium angustifolium (blueberry fruit extract), organic rubus idaeus (red raspberry seed oil), hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn oil), rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract and non-GMO tocopherol (Vitamin E).
SKINourishment, who make the crossFIXE range, state that crossFIXE Hands Crème “is specifically designed to absorb quickly, soothe pain, provide maintenance, and stimulate rapid skin recovery.” They also say that it’s a creamy version of the crossFIXE Hands Tube (reviewed below).
The Hands Crème comes in a tin and in colour and consistently looks like a smooth beeswax balm. It was slightly softer than I had expected from its appearance and readily melts on the fingertips. It spreads over the hands very easily and is absorbed quickly so as to leave your hands feeling soft and moisturised.
The smell of the Hands Crème is slightly medicinal, woody and herby, with a hint of fruit. It’s not over-powering and is quite nice.
Although other climber-specific balms I’ve tried out-perform the Hands Crème in certain ways and there are other balms I rate more highly (e.g. the ClimbOn Adventure Bar), the Hands Crème is a solid, across the board performer. It’s also a good alternative to those other balms if you want a balm that isn’t primarily based on beeswax.
crossFIXE Hands Tube
Ingredients: Cera alba (unrefined yellow beeswax), organic prunus armeniaca (apricot kernel seed oil), cocos nucifera (fractionated coconut oil), organic coffee Arabica (coffee) extract, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, vaccinium angustifolium (blueberry) fruit extract, organic rubus idaeus (red raspberry) seed oil, hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn oil), organic essential oils of thuja orientalis (cedarwood), commiphora myrrha (myrrh), boswellia carteri (frankincense), citrus aurantifolia (lime) with tocopherol (Vitamin E).
Like the crossFIXE Hands Crème, the crossFIXE Hands Tube is billed as soothing, moisturising, quickly absorbed and as providing skin maintenance and recovery. However, the Hands Tube is primarily based on beeswax and feels and looks more like the ClimbOn Adventure Bar (AKA ClimbOn Bar, Men). One of the main differences between the two balms is that the Hands Tube includes coffee extract and green tea extract like the Hands Crème. The other main difference is the packaging.
Most climbers’ hand balms come as a puck of wax, but crossFIXE Hands Tube is like a monster lip balm. This works fine, but I’m not convinced that this design is any better than the standard puck. The only (slight) advantage is that it’s a little bit easier to apply the Hands Tube to a specific area and that you can do this without getting the balm on your fingers. The disadvantage is that when the balm gets warm and soft, you can need to keep a finger inside the tube to stop the balm sliding back inside.
The crucial question though is whether this balm works on the skin. The answer is that this balm is brilliant. The absorbency is outstanding and among the best of all the balms I’ve tried. Although the Hands Tube leaves your hands a bit shiny when first applied, this shine disappears in about a minute. It’s also easy and quick to apply. The Hands Tube does a fantastic job of moisturising your hands and keeps them feeling good for a long time. The smell is very similar to that of the Hands Crème, but stronger.
This is an all-round great balm.
crossFIXE Muscle Paste
Ingredients: hydrogenated olea (olive) wax, cocos neucifera, sesamum indicum (sesame seed) oil, coconut oil, coffee Arabica (coffee) butter, vaccinium angustifolium (blueberry fruit extract), organic rubus idaeus (red raspberry seed oil), hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn oil), organic herbs and spices blend with rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, non-GMO tocopherol (Vitamin E).
The aim of the crossFIXE Muscle Paste is to moisturise and sooth muscle pain. SKINourishment state on their website that it “is ridiculously awesome for muscle soreness, strain, arthritis, and any type of stiffness or strain.” That’s a strong claim and I initially viewed the Muscle Paste with quite a lot of scepticism because it wasn’t obvious to me how it works and so could live up to how it was being billed. SKINourishment’s website says that the Muscle Paste increases circulation to the skin and relaxes muscles, but doesn’t really go into the details of how this happens. My understanding (based, I admit, on a Google search) of this explanation is that blood is drawn to the area where the muscle balm is applied and that this promotes healing, e.g. by increasing the amount of oxygen reaching the site of the problem.
Another possible explanation is that muscle balms such as Muscle Paste interfere with how pain is sensed by stimulating the skin. This is something I’ve recently read about in a great book by top climber Dave Macleod –
“Even the pain signals coming directly from the injury site can be amplified or inhibited before they actually reach the brain. A popular model of the way this occurs is the ‘gate control theory’ of pain…Stimulation of the skin (heat, rubbing, etc.) around an injury site can inhibit pain signals on their way to the brain. Sensory nerves from the skin are linked at the level of the spinal cord to pain sensing nerves from the same area of the body. In other words, they ‘close the gate’ on these pain signals before they reach the brain and cause the sensation we feel.”
Macleod, Dave (2015) Make or Break, Roy Bridge: Rare Breed Productions, pp.24-25.
This is obviously not my area of expertise and I would be interested to get comments from anyone with more expertise in this area that can provide a good explanation of how muscle balms are meant to work.
My scepticism hasn’t completely gone away, but I have to admit the Muscle Paste does do something and it does it well. I’ve found that stiff and sore muscles did rapidly feel much better after applying it. For example, a minute or two after having applied it to my stiff and aching neck, the ache subsided and my neck felt more relaxed.
I’ve been surprised and impressed by Muscle Paste, but suspect that there are clear limits to what it can do. Although I’ve not had a chance to try it in this way, I suspect Muscle Paste “soothes” and “relieves” aches and mild pain, but wouldn’t be of limited help if you were in agony.
Although it’s described as a paste, Muscle Paste feels like a slightly oily wax. It comes in a small plastic pot that is only big enough to allow in a couple of fingertips and this makes applying it a bit time consuming. This design also seems unhelpful when you consider that there are likely to be times when you want to apply the Muscle Paste to a fairly large area and need to get a relatively large amount onto your hand. On the plus side, it’s easy and quick to apply.
Its smell is spicy and a little sharp. I’ve had people tell me that they really like the smell, but it might not be to everyone’s taste and does linger a bit after application.
The crossFIXE range is certainly as good as ClimbOn, with the crossFIXE Hands Tube equalling the best products in the ClimbOn range. There are two main differences that might encourage you to use crossFIXE over ClimbOn.
The first is the difference in ingredients and what this means for the characteristics of the products. The crossFIXE Crème provides a really good alternative for someone who doesn’t want to use one of the many beeswax-based balms on the market. It also means differences in handling and performance between specific products, e.g. the ClimbOn Crème and crossFIXE Hands Crème are quite different. In addition, ClimbOn and crossFIXE products don’t smell the same and this might sway you to buy one or the other.
The second difference is that the ClimbOn range doesn’t include a Muscle Paste and I think it is worth giving this Muscle Paste a go to see if it works for you if you regularly suffers aches and pains (if it’s very regular, you might also want to see a physiotherapist or a doctor).
The crossFIXE range works well and they are products that I’m going to keep returning to.
Declaration: SKINourishment gave me a free sample of the crossFIXE Hands Crème, the crossFIXE Hands Tube and the crossFIXE Muscle Paste specifically for me to review. This hasn’t influenced my opinion.