What’s a base layer?
A base layer is chalk in a liquid solution, usually isopropyl alcohol. At Friction Labs, we also created an Alcohol Free version perfect for the gym, arid climates, or climbers with naturally dry skin. You spread the cream on your hands and, after a few seconds, the evaporate dries, leaving a thin long lasting layer of chalk on your hands.
Why should I use a base layer?
Using a base layer makes your chalk last longer and emits less chalk dust than using loose chalk alone. Starting with a base layer, you set a foundation for your chalk. You get coverage into all of the small spaces on your hands. This foundational coverage means that your chalk will stay on your hands longer. Before you re-apply, we recommend rubbing your hands together to see if you can get some of the chalk from other areas of your hands (like your palms) onto your fingertips. In high use areas of your hands that need more, you can add a little loose chalk to maintain coverage as needed.
How do I use a base layer?
When you rub the base layer cream on your hands, you get complete coverage of chalk. It also allows you to use a particle size of chalk that’s different than loose chalk. This special sized chalk particle makes for maximum coverage. Spread the base layer cream all over your hands and let it dry for chalk coverage you can’t get with loose chalk, or a chalk ball, alone.
You can help reduce chalk dust in your gym!
The adherence of the base layer to your skin means you will emit less chalk dust, as found in this study. The less chalk dust you emit, the less chalk dust gets in the air, on the holds, and on the floor. By using a base layer, you’re doing yourself and your fellow climbers a favor by helping keep your gym and crags clean.
So... Alcohol Free, Original, or Hygienic?
We’ve developed three formulas of base layer. The original is Secret Stuff, it contains Friction Labs chalk, isopropyl alcohol, and water. This cream goes on smooth and dries in a few seconds. If you are in a humid environment or are very sweaty, this will be your choice. The rapid evaporation of the alcohol will cause a cooling sensation on your skin, leaving you a thin layer of long lasting chalk.
Alcohol Free Secret Stuff was developed for drier/climate controlled environments and/or sensitive skin. We use Friction Labs chalk combined with a food grade starch solution. This formula can take as much as two minutes to dry. When it dries, it is almost like a chalk paint on your hands. It’s our longest lasting base layer. The interaction of the starch and chalk creates a super structure on your skin, which causes it to stay on longer. If you have normal to dry skin, or are climbing in a drier environment, this will be your base layer of choice.
Secret Stuff Hygienic was developed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Made with an 80% ethyl alcohol base, this high performance formula is engineered to provide unparalleled grip and reduce the spread of germs. For many users it's the best of both worlds, combining the quick-drying nature of Secret Stuff Original with the paint-like adherence of Alcohol Free, along with the added benefit of greater hygiene.
Try using a base layer the next time you climb and see how much longer your chalk lasts. Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, tell us how long you could climb without needing to chalk up. We’ve had people tell us they can climb more than 10 routes without chalking up again!