My hands dry out really easily after climbing and in cold weather (two things that often go together in the UK). This means that I’m always interested in hand care products for climbers. When I came across adverts for KletterRetter hand cream, I decided to give it a go.
KletterRetter is German made and has been selling there since 2013. It relatively recently started being sold in the UK. The name apparently roughly translates into English as “climbing saver.” The makers say that:
“KletterRetter is a fast absorbing, non-greasy hand cream to care for your skin after climbing. The special formula has been developed by experts and tested by climbers to help your skin quickly regenerate. With KletterRetter your hands are always ready for another day of climbing.”
KletterRetter has quite a long lot of ingredients compared with many of the other balms and moisturisers I’ve tried. These ingredients are:
- Isopropyl palmitate
- Cetyl alcohol
- Myristyl alcohol
- Trilaureth-4 phosphate
- Glyceryl stearate citrate
- Cera microcristallina
- Cetearyl glucoside
- Sodium citrate
- Tetrasodium glutamate diacetate
- Glycine soya oil
- Retinyl palmitate
- Helianthus annuus seed oil
- Citric acid c
- Calendula officinalis flower extract
- Sodium hydroxide
- Caprylyl glycol
I don’t have a degree in chemistry and so most of these ingredients are not familiar to me. However, I do recognise the first one. I always think it’s a little amusing that companies prefer to refer to water as “aqua” on the ingredients lists of their products. Presumably this is because they think it’s harder to sell cosmetics if the largest single ingredient is water (even if it’s purified water and it’s essential for making the product work).
The second ingredient is isopropyl palmitate. I had to Google this to understand what it is. Isopropyl palmitate is a chemical compound of isopropyl alcohol and palmitic acid (a saturated fatty acid). It’s a common agent in skincare products as it’s a moisturiser, emollient and thickening agent.
After this comes glycerine (AKA glycerol or glycerin). This is a humectant. This means that it locks moisture in the skin, and, by absorbing water, it’s hydrating for the skin. It also carries other ingredients into the skin. Look on the back of a lot of skin creams and shaving creams you will find glycerine is one of the ingredients
Next in the list is cetyl alcohol. This is a fatty alcohol that is used in cosmetics as an emollient or thickening agent.
These are the ingredients that make up the higher proportions of KletterRetter, but it’s panthenol, calendula oil and ectoin that the makers emphasise as the active ingredients. This is what the KletterRetter website has to say about these ingredients.
“Panthenol (Vitamin B5):KletterRetter gets its anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties from panthenol. The unique properties contained in panthenol increase your skin’s ability to hold moisture, which means you can stay at the wall for longer.
Calendula oil: KletterRetter cares for your skin with calendula oil. Calendula oil contains anti-inflammatory and skin care properties that support and accelerate the regeneration of your skin after a hard climbing session.
Ectoin: With ectoin, KletterRetter strengthens your skin’s natural protective layer thereby supporting existing natural protection measures.”
The website also states that KletterRetter is vegan and not tested on animals.
What it’s like to use
KletterRetter is a white cream contained in a squeezable tube, with a flip-top lid.
It absorbs into the skin very quickly. This sets KletterRetter apart from climbing balms based on beeswax and is probably its biggest selling point. Even the best beeswax-based balm will leave your hands shiny, oily/greasy for a few minutes after it’s been applied. This isn’t necessarily an issue unless you want to use your smart phone or touch anything else that you don’t want to leave fingerprints on. KletterRetter is absorbed almost immediately, leaving your hands nicely moisturised and feeling good.
Another good feature of KletterRetter is that you only need to use a small amount to get this effect. If you use too much, then it leaves your hands greasy.
The makers describe KletterRetter as having a “discreet, natural forest scent”. I think that’s a pretty accurate description. It’s a pleasant smell that I think few, if any, people would dislike.
My main criticism of KletterRetter is that the moisturising effect doesn’t last that long when compared to a beeswax balm. That’s meant that I’ve tended to use KletterRetter when I want to apply something quickly and don’t want my hands to get oily. If I’m going to use something to really treat my hands and don’t want to have to re-apply something soon, then I’ll use a beeswax balm instead.
I’ve reviewed quite a few balms and moisturisers now, and have used the same scoring system to make it easier to compare them. This gives a score out of 10 for each of the following factors, with 10 being the best and 1 the worst.
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 a balm for a while after it’s put on.
On this basis, I give KletterRetter the following scores.
KletterRetter absorbs very rapidly and is easy to apply. It has a pleasant smell. KletterRetter is great if you need something to quickly and easily moisturise your hands after climbing, but you might be better off with a beeswax balm if you want something that lasts longer.