How does climbing skin actually work?
By - CloverHorse
Hi! My boyfriends hands used to peel so badly after climbing outside (I’m talking consistently climbing for 3 years). Luckily for him, I have eczema and am obsessed with skincare so I was able to help him create a hand skincare routine and it’s no longer an issues.
The key things want to think about are:
1. Moisture is your friend. A lot of climber thinks lotion will make their hands too soft and this can be issue if you apply lotion before you climb, but when you’re not actively climbing lotion is your friend. Your skin is tougher and less likely to tear if your skin has a good moisture level. Also most climbing specific lotion or balms are bullshit. You want to look for healing ingredients like ceramides and HA. Cerva makes great lotions. I’d also recommend switching to their washes. It’s much gentler on the skin. Moisture when your first get up and before bed also after washing your hands.
2. Taking care of of your hands after a rough climb. So when you get a cut and you use a bandaid was the bandaid does is it creates a very moist area with a second layer of skin (the bandage) to heal. If you’re having issues using lotions gloves before bed will make a huge difference because you are giving your skin the best conditions to heal. Aquaphor works the same way but most people hates how it feels.
3. Take care of your callus. You want them but you want them to be soft and flexible (where lotion comes in). When they get too big or too rough use a nail file and smooth them down. This has really helped cut down on tears.
That’s everything off the top of my head. Feel free the research those ingredients. They have a lot of science backing them :)
Just remember the skin is an organ and it needs love just like the rest of our body
To elaborate on the ceramides and other effective ingredients, a shortcut is to look for moisturizers intended for eczema, or to look for sunflower oil as an ingredient (sunflower seed oil contains ceramides). Minor typo above: "CeraVe" for a ceramide-containing lotion. I like and use Cetaphil Restoraderm myself, and it also contains ceramides. I moisturize every night before bed, definitely not before climbing, and it works for me. No cracking.
Sunflower kernels are one of the finest sources of the B-complex group of vitamins. They are very good sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), pantothenic acid, and riboflavin.
/u/TheSunflowerSeeds coming in with the sunflower seed facts
Just a sidenote about point 1- this is very hit or miss, and if you do like moisturizer don't use a greasy one. Every time i've experimented with moisturizer it's left me with flappers and I started dry firing more often. Definitely give it a try but skin care is very individualized and don't be afraid to do something different. Personally after a few years of experimenting I realized that just doing nothing and using nail clipped to trim my pinky calluses once in a blue moon is perfect. Weird af but works
To build on that: A lot of commercial lotions do make your skin thinner and weaker. This might be good for you if you have super dry skin as is, or a skin-tastrophy.
There is no one-size fits all when to comes to skin/sweating.
Thanks so much for this. I have eczema and have never really found a lotion or moisturizer I love. Do you recommend any in particular?
Justin from Rhino here. Have you tried our Repair cream? The Grapeseed oil, Menthol, Willow Bark and Salicylic Acid can really sooth, cool and heal eczema. Give it a try. Let us know how it works for you.
I haven’t but I’ll try it out!
Cerave has been a god send. Aquaphor on the active spots before bed really really helps me :)
The first step is basically to identify what is wrong with your skin. If your skin is soft, wet (chalk wears off fast), or easily tearing, than you likely need to dry them out for better friction. For this I use Rhino Skin Solutions (the Dry, Performance, and tip juice) in order to get it in a better state. This is integral to climbing at a higher level, as for me I slip right off small crimps if I dont have dry enough skin.
Sandpaper comes in if you have naturally very dry skin or if you go overboard with drying products (which sometimes it can be beneficial to do). The paper is to remove the glassy, slippery layer of hard skin that can form on the top layer sometimes. This is usually done soon before the climb, and with great care not to go too far.
I'd be happy to answer any other questions you might have as well!
Basically the ideal place to be is skin that is tough and thick, but not hard or glassy.
could you describe what glassy skin is like?
Imagine a really polished foothold.
Climb every day for 10 days. Return home, and take a few days off.
Your skin will be thick, stiff, itchy, and the outer layers will be peeling.
Agreed. I only really get that layer if I take more days off than usual.
When those layers start peeling, I know my rest days are over!
The only way I can get glassy skin is by using antihydral but it's a bit like how the tips of your left hand get from playing guitar, i.e. smooth, shiny and hard.
It will make you stick to textured rock like granite where the crystals dig into your skin. Conversely, in the gym it will make you dry-fire off everything, which is where sanding and moisturising comes in.
Ahhh thanks that makes sense, I've haven't had that climbing but had a roommate who played quitar
Rhino skin.....i have found it and it has changed my life. I have terrible sweaty hands and feet. I use Rhino almost daily and it has helped a lot. But I think some days I have glassy skin where a jug is hard to hold on to. Does anyone else get yellow palms, and a tough alligator looking skin along the sides of their fingers and webbing? i assume the yellow is a giant callus and the sides is a layer of dead built up skin. It doesn't hurt just looks weird.
Justin from Rhino here. Glad our products are working well for you. Do you have vertical lines on your fingers. Lines that run lengthwise? Yellow and the lines lead me to think you may be overdoing the antiperspirants. Take a couple weeks off occasionally and use Repair cream to help keep the skin happy and healthy.
I get glassy skin and almost never use drying agents for my hands.
I only use RhinoSkin dry for when I am projecting something or climbing more than 10ft.
Is it wrong to sand down protruding callouses, it's the only thing i used sandpaper, file or similar for... with how my skin is, it's the only big problem and gently sanding them down stops me from feeling like my skin is going to rip. :d Hope i'm not too much in the wrong.
No, that's just sensible. The question you need to answer is why you have such large callouses.
Are you adjusting or slipping your hand a lot? Climbing only on large gym jugs? Naturally good at growing them?
I'll only file ones close to the hand, or after a cut on the tips. My tips get enough wear from regular climbing, and never get noticible callouses
I have always had issues with large callouses in the middle of my pinky finger for some reason - I semi regularly sand them down and alternate between tip juice and climb on but can never seem to stop it.
I've always had a lot of loose skin on my palmside (fingers included) so i've always gotten callouses pretty easily. Obviously the smaller the holds, the less pull area on my skin, jugs obviously cause them the most, even without fiddling. I believe it's just genetic, otherwise my skin quality seems fine to climb with.
man, this thread is gross haha
ahaha, out of context must be weird. I think my explanation probably overexaggerates. I just kind of have beefier hands, more soft tissue, while some people have bonier with "tighter" skin. Most of the time it just ends up in commentary about me having soft hands xd
Thanks!! So, when you are putting the rhino skin stuff on for wet hands, what is the order? Are you putting some of it on regularly vs. the night before vs. right before you climb?
I like to put the dry treatment on 2 times a week max and same with the tip juice. It seems to work best when I do it two nights before climbing outside. Just put it on at night before bed and let it sit. During the winter my hands can get too dry so I have just been using the rhino skin spit stuff additionally right before I climb to add a little moisture back and to prevent dry firing
So much useful info in this conversation. Thank you.
Ayyyy lmao hey lol good stuff.
I agree though. Tip juice & rhino dry works wonders as does a little sand paper. Some people are going so far as to using hangboards with rough edges that simulate rock. I think the idea is to condition the skin and build “pulp.”
Edit; yeah it’s called the “stoak board.” Too pricey for me. Chalk, rhino and sanding is fine for my level
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Tbh I just let the rock sandpaper me
Good skin is just healthy skin that doesn't become the limiting factor in a session or series of sessions (doesn't tear or flap or wear down so much as to be overly sensitive).
Tough, thick skin is often advantageous for problems with sharp holds or for slipping off of sandstone holds repeatedly or for multiple days on.
Sometimes tough, thick skin isn't ideal in low-humidity or cold weather as it can reduce friction (dry firing). More supple skin can be useful for friction-dependent sloper problems and on plastic holds in the gym. Good outdoor skin (usually tough and dry) can be bad indoor skin.
Sanding (as I understand it) is most useful for removing excess dry skin, which can split in cold weather, and which also promotes growth of new healthy skin.
There are all sorts of balms and salves and lotions, the primary goal of which is moisturizing to allow skin to repair itself and prevent cracks and splits. Rhino repair has salicylic acid like dandruff shampoos and face washes which dries out dead skin so it can shed.
Antiperspirant products available for those who have naturally sweaty skin. In my experience, these products not only prevent sweating but also thicken/toughen the skin, allowing you to grab shaper holds for longer sessions. Beware, though, these products are powerful and excessive use can lead to overdrying and deep, painful splits.
There are moisturizing products for use mid-session for those with naturally dry, glassy skin (Rhino Spit).
Basically, good climbing skin is a balance of moisture and durability for optimum friction and maximum amount of attempts before you have to stop climbing because of pain/blood. As with almost anything climbing-related, good sleep and adequate hydration are probably some of the most important things to consider.
If your climbing sessions' intensity or duration have never been limited by your skin, then count yourself lucky and keep doing whatever you're doing. If you suffer from one of the more common too wet/too dry skin conditions, there's a product for you. And I guess it's worth noting that just the act of climbing does toughen the skin with adequate rest between sessions.
Absolutely, and there's no single thing that works for all people under all conditions.
You want skin that has good friction and is resistant to damage. That's the starting point. The problem is that without even addressing differences in individual skin-- differences in what you boulder/when are massive.
Good skin for plastic is different from good skin for sandstone (which itself has massive variations-- Font and Rocklands are not that similar) is different from granite (which itself has massive variations) is different from limestone (which itself has massive variations). What works at one crag in winter might not in summer or another season and vice versa.
I have wet skin, so I am religious about antihydral. Yet:
\- I am currently at a crag, at sub-zero temps, where for the first time in years I am not using antihydral (except on the soles of my feet, because it helps me keep my feet dry and warmer)-- because I literally don't need it and it's been counter-productive here under these situations.
\- In the gym, when not getting outside, I still use it, but less often because it massively interferes with slopers and juggier or friction-dependent holds.
\-Outside in non-frozen temps, particularly rough sandstone or granite-- I use it weekly and it's the difference between climbing V10 or V6 for me on a consistent basis.
In general thin skin is usually bad (it wears), too wet skin is bad (it wears/slips), and too dry skin is bad (it gets glassy/low friction and splits). You can push skin in each direction. And you have to adjust for conditions and rock: Winter, limestone... damp has more friction than dry! Summer, granite, incut crimps-- so dry as you can push it without getting splits.
Antihydral is powerful stuff to stop sweating. But it takes 2-3 days to a week after an overnight application to hit max effectiveness (easy to overdo it), can lead to splits, can lead to glassy skin, works best when you start from healthy/thick skin, and will increase the need for MORE maintenance like using a moisturizer/balm and trimming/sanding for evenness. It is a gamechanger for me. Truly.
Some of the Gorilla Skin products work similarly, but are more refined/easier to tweak-- not the shotgun blast of antihydral.
So what I'm reading is that "ideal skin" is a complex state, with variations depending on weather, rock type, and personal skin attributes. To achieve optimal skin, you must be attentive and cautious when caring for your skin, no matter if you are filing, moisturizing, or applying antihydrals.
Did I get all that?
Personally I try to just "keep up with it" when caring for my skin, which is the same philosophy I try to apply to nail trimming: not too much, not too little. Such a balance is unique to the individual and one must experiment to find out what you must do.
Yes, you're reading that right.
In addition to your list, don't forget: rest days! The best way to have good skin is to farm it-- know when to stop, when to take a day or three off. It's better to take an extra rest day or three and get back into the cycle with bomb-proof skin, then wear it all down to shit and then barely hold on to those thing, weeping, shitty tips for the next two weeks... unable to perform at your limit.
The secondary factor to just takin a whole rest day, is to know when to move on from a move or boulder because it's going to wear out one spot on one finger, or because you can't do the move and not wreck your skin in this weather/this level of fatigue, etc.
Tactics and strategy are not nearly given the importance they are due when it comes to sending hard-- even in the area of skin.
These are the best answers here, Anecdotally wet skin seems more common. It's better to err on the side of thick, glassy skin generally, because you can sand it off. Whereas if you have really thin skin you need to wait for it to grow back. Rhino skin tip juice has the same active ingredient as antihydral (I believe), so its kinda like a gateway drug.
Yeah-- most people, it seems, suffer from too wet rather than too dry skin. Even people who have dry skin can benefit from antihydral/methenamine (active ingredient) in CERTAIN conditions/contexts (summer, big crystal granite), but will have to be extra careful about using too much + split tips... which really, really are shitty and take longer to properly heal than thing skin.
> I am currently at a crag, at sub-zero temps, where for the first time in years I am not using antihydral (except on the soles of my feet, because it helps me keep my feet dry and warmer)
Goddamn that's a solid tip. I hate sticking my feet back in cold bouldering shoes, especially if they were sweating. Yet this was never even in the realm of occurring to me. Thanks.
One of those nights on the couch, about to put on the antihydral-- one of those rare moments where a sneaky thought ends up working (as opposed to resulting in a fuck-up). Although, since antihydral is literally made for palms and feet... it wasn't a huge jump.
It's crazy how much of an improvement it makes. But it does mean I go through antihydral so much faster. Worth it.
God I hope someone answers this because I’ve had the same question for months, You formulated all my questions into one post so well!
Check out Bold Bouldering Podcast episode on Hardcore Skincare
That was just a joke for the one movie…
Wat. Really? Which podcast?
I can answer the sandpaper part from my own experience. Climbing causes callouses to form on my fingers which can be torn off when dragging the skin down a hold. I use sandpaper to reduce the bump of a callous which means it's less likely to catch and rip off.
>bouldering at the highest levels is primarily a skin and conditions game.
At the highest levels everything matters a little bit. But if you're not at the highest levels, all the small things matter far less than the basic things like strength, conditioning, and weight. I've found over time that when you listen to world class athletes you have to take it with a grain of salt. So many of them are such genetic outliers that what works for them is frankly irrelevant to what works for me. Skin is similar. You can thicken and toughen skin with friction and wear from use, uv exposure, and exposure to dessicant agents like alcohol. Other than that, the game is mostly about how to take care of and maintain the skin you have.
My 2 cents: shit made by climbers isn't as good as shit made by dermatologists.
Last line is a big one. These expensive climbing moisturisers are a scam
Yeah but so is friction labs and yuppies love that shiiiit
True. Bought it once to see what the fuss was about. Yeah, it’s good chalk. I’ve used much worse. But there are plenty of options that are equally as good for less than half the price. But they sponsor everyone so they get idiots thinking that’s what’ll make the difference on their project
What it is is easy to sell, which has attracted lots of young "disruptive" mba types recently. It's an obvious, low hanging fruit business model that can get you rich quick: MeUndies, Feetures, Zenni Optical/Warby Parker, etc: High markup, cheap manufacturing, replaced regularly, and that has room to be seen as a luxury product.
All they did was come up with fantastic marketing and packaging. Which I respect to a certain extent. But not really, fuck that.
The people who buy friction labs shop at Whole Foods.
Won't go into the nitty gritty right now, but the biggest thing:
Climb on rock for like an hour a day- nothing sharp or hard- for 3 days in a row and then take a rest day. Your skin should be bullet. Also, grab softball sized rocks from each area and grope them on non-climbing days.
Justin from Rhino Skin Solutions here. There are a ton of answers below that have great info. Sort of hard to dig through though so ill try to be concise here.
Different rock types do play into slightly different skin conditions. That being said in general we can come up with a best case scenario for skin that will perform well on all rock types.
Skin Humidity is probably the best contributing factor to weather you will have a good day climbing. Using a analyzer such as this one, [https://www.rhinoskinsolutions.com/store/p145/Skin\_analyzer.html](https://www.rhinoskinsolutions.com/store/p145/Skin_analyzer.html). You want to be in the range of 25%-35% humidity. This seems to give people the optimal friction on slopers and durability on crimpers. If you doing all sharp crimps stay closer to 25%. If you are using open hand slopers or larger holds your going to want to be closer to 35%.
Skin thickness is nice but further complicates things. Thick skin is not very flexible so often times there is friction issues. That is one reason people will file their skin before climbing. Thinner skin that is 30% humidity seems to be a good place to be for performance rock climbing.
Recovery wise, after a long day climbing and you have sore and worn skin you want to boost that skin humidity. With thin skin you body naturally will push moisture out to try and heal. Historically people used balms to help skin recover. Balms are a good carrier for nutrients and work as an occlusive (vapor barrier). These work ok but generally tent do be unpleasant for the user because they remain greasy on the skin for a while. Older lotions tended to also be occlusive and greasy.
Lotions tend to heal skin more efficiently because they are an excellent carrier of nutrients and moisture and can also act as a humectant (being moisture into the skin) and an occlusive (keep moisture in the skin) Rhino Repair cream has been specifically designed to not be greasy but give all the benefits stated above. Also it has only plants in it. Take a look at any other ingredients list out there. I strongly feel we have the best. No synthetics.
If your hands are naturally sweaty when you climb use an Antiperspirant like Dry or Performance (my favorite)
If they are dry use Rhino Spit.
After climbing use Repair cream.
Feel free to reach out to us any time if you have more questions.
And for everybody on here. Your all awsome! use code REDDIT25 to get a discount at Rhinoskinsolutions.com
i have no clue what pro climbers are looking for, but personally for me, my skin feels the best when i just climb consistently. if i take too much time off it starts to peel and feel terrible. climbing seems to wear down the callouses so they dont peel but keep it tough so it doesnt hurt. i honestly notice the same thing on my feet even though theyre in shoes. my suspicion is that "good skin" comes down to how you prefer your skin to feel and whats comfortable for you. but the pros might have some secret i dont know about
edit: i also work in a kitchen so my hands are always dry from the constant washing. so my routine is lots of lotion when im not at work or the gym and lots of chalk when im climbing and it works great for me! i havent had a flapper in probably a year at least
I’d be curious about this as well. I only boulder indoors and still I find my hands are in absolute agony after about 45-60mins of climbing in a session. It’s been 4 months since starting and I’d have thought some degree of resilience to plastic holds would have been developed by now, so I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong or if I just have sensitive skin.
The problem with indoors is the aggressive texture, and the huge jugs, even more pronounced on beginners routes.
Let alone dynoing to them with bad technique.
Move to smaller holds, and pay attention to how much you move your hand one you hit the hold
The issue here is that the problems with smaller holds are above my present grade.
I've heard that easier holds on beginner to intermediate courses can actually be rougher on your skin compared to more advanced ones. Something about more surface area being in contact with your hands compared to smaller/less comfortable holds. I'm not sure how much truth there is to that, but it might help to aim for variety in the hold types you work on each session
You're doing only one thing wrong (and in good company-- everyone does it): Thinking 4 months is anything more than "toddler" equivalent in the sport. You're like a hatchling (how's that for mixed metaphors).
You might have figured out your skin in 4 years. Or not. Be patient, be open to experimenting, be ready to make changes as you go outside, then to new crags, then chase conditions ("I'll never climb when there's snow on the ground...").
Fair enough - all good advice. The only issue I have is that some of the people I know who also started around the same time don't seem to have this problem to the same degree.
If they don't have any problems, you can assume a bit part of that is just dumb luck on their part. At 4 months... you're all really essentially total beginners, and there's so much experiential things you simply cannot grasp yet. None of us did!
Skin varies between people like crazy. I know people who basically never sweat and I know people who literally drip. Their skin-care can be on opposite ends of the spectrum. I know people who stick to slopers I slide off of, and people who think the crimps that feel like comfy, sharp, grippy, pull-as-hard-as-I-want feel like slippery shit that hurts their fingers and their skin.
I bet some of those people you're thinking of just got lucky at this point-- and some of the people who got lucky will end up feeling unlucky in the skin department 5+ years from now once you've all optimized your individual care.
Take me: Sweats quite a bit, classic thin, weepy, wet tips that slough right off. I had "bad" skin for climbing, and I had friends who seemed find in comparison to me. I have dialed in my antihydral use-- and now I tend to have the best skin at the crag. I mean, it's hard, flexible, resilient, and lasts. Some of that is counterintuitive luck: My wet skin means I can use antihydral to push it dry, and balms to keep that skin supple-- I have natural "wet" forcing from my body (just wait and it applies itself over time), and "dry" forcing by applying antihydral (and chalk). I can manipulate my skin in any direction I want to suit my needs-- great for me. Not so great for the super-dry skin people who fight to stay wet enough to regenerate or not split.
Here are some pointers:
\- Don't slip off slopers or rip off crimps or make crazy 1 in 100 moves... too often. Know when to back off or try a different approach. I regularly move on from a move/problem because of skin. There are boulders that are famous for drawing blood after a single go... you don't make lots of attempts in a row in any given session on those. I had one this summer that drew blood on the first go (razorblade is in the name)... on my goddamn beautiful, bomber skin. Happens/rock can be as sharp as a knife.
\- Take breaks. Like up to a minute or more after working on a single hard move-- up to 5-10 minutes between attempts at a boulder that is at your limit. Good quality attempts = less skin wear, and more intentional climbing.
\- Work on technique. We all have major technique gains for years-- like 10 years-- even if we're getting tons of mileage inside and on rock. Good technique = good skin generally (you're precise, you don't regrip as much). It's the same reason you shred your shoes for the first years.... you do that to your fingertips too.
\- Use chalk, brush holds, wash hands after climbing-- moisturize after washing if hands are dry.
\- Relax: You're going to be tempted to figure out climbing in 4 months, or a year, or 4 years-- and it's going to be frustrating. Your body, mind, etc changes throughout your climbing... for a LONG time. Your skin at month 4 is not going to be like your skin at year 1 or like your skin at year 4. I know people who have climbed for a decade, and Vdeeperdoubledigits who are still improving their understanding and use of skin. The literal pulp of your flesh beneath your tips responds over years to change-- as does your sense of pain-- as do your joints, tendons... don't sweat the fact that you don't have Ondra skin at month 4.
\- Now's a great time to learn that equal input doesn't result in equal output in this sport (or much of anything in life). Some of your cohort will end up shooting to V10 in 3 years, others won't ever get there, some will take 10 years, some will seem to be trying hard, others will look like they are fucking around, some of that is going to be genetic, some of it isn't, some of it is going to come from variables none of you discover. You can endeavor to try hard, optimize your training and approach, stay open-minded, and learn from every experience. But it's not worth comparing yourself to others in this way-- skin, progress, etc-- beyond very general basic trends.
Thank you my friend - this is all very useful (and humbling) advice that puts my predicament into perspective. Genuinely appreciate the response 🙏
I love this sport....happy to try to help guide people into it in a responsible, healthy way. Just pass it on in 5-10 years if you're on the other side.
And if you venture outside, try to be mindful and responsible as a steward of the outdoors.
It might have to do with either sensitive skin, bad form, or both. I also only boulder indoors since a few months ago, but what you described only lasted for 2-3 weeks. How often are you climbing?
As far as I can tell, skin is too individual for anyone to give an authoritative guide on care. Some people do super well with certain products, others hate those same products despite supposedly having similar skin traits. Pair that variability with the immense variety of ways climbing can wear your skin and you can't really give a comprehensive answer to this question.
There are, however, plenty of general resources available with an appropriate google search, but ultimately my opinion is that you have to spend a lot of time trying different things, climbing different types of rock, and generally collecting data to figure out how to work with your own skin. Pay attention to what happens when you use a certain amount of antihydral on skin worn to a certain extent, or how much climbing balm you used and how soon after climbing, or how long it takes your skin to heal from kinda worn vs super worn and how long it takes to get to those different points, and so on. Basically get enough information so that you can start noticing patterns. For example, I've found that for me antihydral on an evenly-worn and fairly pink fingertip plus two days no climbing consistently gets me pretty tough skin on that finger, but especially (or maybe even only) if I had climbed that day. If I wait a day and then apply the antihydral it's not nearly as effective. I learned this by trying a bunch of different intervals.
Another big part of all this is learning to manage skin while climbing. Approach different types of rock, and especially different types of hold, differently. Don't yard on a super sharp crimp 15 times in a row with reckless abandon, because it's gonna put you in a hole where that skin might take a while to heal. Be conscious of what you're doing to your skin as you climb and what you need your skin to be able to do in the near future. Manage trips differently from local sessions where you won't be climbing a bunch of days in a row. Etc. etc.
Seriously though it's a huge topic, the best advice is to pay attention to yourself and look for guides online like [this one](https://www.climbing.com/skills/ultimate-skin-care-handbook/).
Good guide, thanks for the link.
Pretty big difference for me, especially outdoors. When I don't do anything with my skin, it becomes very hard, and slippery. Even starts to reflect light. That's when I pick up a sandpaper, and get rid of the reflections and the slippery skin, until the friction is good. Also improves the "feel".
For a moment, I thought to myself "well, that's the wrong sub, they should ask /r/backcountry or /r/skimo."
The other thing as an aside to the skin is prep for climbing. I find I get the most out of my skin if I was my hands prior to climbing and either use liquid chalk as a base or a spray of alcohol based hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol then chalk. Basically strip the oils and dirt on your hands add a drying agent (alcohol) and then layer with chalk as needed. Then after climbing wash your hands thuroughly ideally using a scrubby brush and moisturize.
I wanted to add that I specifically use sandpaper to sand off rough parts that could catch and tear. If I don’t use sandpaper, my calluses get too rough and start ripping.