There are so, so, so many grip aids, antiperspirants, and pole-dance specific moisturizers out on the market now that it can be really overwhelming to know which one is right for you, and which to spend your hard-earned money on. I see this question come up time and time again on forums and websites, and I see tons of people upset that they can’t work on anything because they keep on sliding off their @#$*@#$ pole. But the thing that people don’t talk about enough, is that the grip aid you should use will depend on some specific conditions.
Another important note is that a warmed up pole is a sticky pole. If you aren’t warming up your pole and your body, you will slide right off! And if you aren’t warming up, you will be more prone to injuries, soreness, and you won’t get as much out of your flexibility or muscles. If you’re poling in a very cold or dry environment, you may need to apply grip aid because it’s not possible to warm the pole up enough to get it truly sticky. Or sometimes, in a performance setting, you don’t have the time or ability to control what the pole’s condition is like before you get on it– that’s when you put on enough grip aid to be sure you don’t slip. Otherwise, if you have an air conditioner, humidifier, space heater, or fan that you can use, try adjusting your environment. You’d be surprised: although a cool, dry room is ideal for physical exertion because it’s comfortable, it’s NOT ideal for poling! Moist skin, NOT dry papery skin, is sticky skin. You want a slightly moist room that is just cool and dry enough that you don’t sweat too easily.
I know there are people who are for and against grip aids. I’m not going to get into the different arguments here, but I will say that my personal philosophy is that you should try to do as much pole work as you can without them. However, if you need the confidence of a grip aid for a new move, then fine. If you need it to stick to your brand new home pole, then go for it. And we all just have our slippy days. The important thing is that you try to avoid being mentally or physically dependent. And beyond that, we’re all adults here and can make our own decisions. Pole is supposed to be fun, and as long as you wipe down the pole really well for whoever is coming after you, we should all be able to play nicely! = )
A few months ago, Bad Kitty sent me a sampler pack of all the grip aids that they sell on their website. Our intent was to test out all the different products and come up with some kind of buying guide that could help a pole dancer to select the grip aid that was right for them. But after months of testing, it has become very apparent that the right product for you completely depends on your poling environment, and skin, as well as a bunch of other variables– which body part you are using it on, what you need it to do, what allergies you may have. What works for one person is very unlikely to work for another unless all these variables are the same, and different aids may work better for you depending on what you are using them for. I had students and friends of all different skin types, with different grip needs, test these under all the different conditions that I could think of– it took quite a while!
So, I’ve put together this grip aid review to try to help. It is by no means exhaustive, but I’ve tried to summarize some key points in the chart below:
And now lets get into specifics:
- Dew Point: This is a lightweight spray that comes in three “tack” levels and is great for use all over the body. The easiest way to spread it on your legs is to spray lightly, then rub your legs together like a cricket. I covered Dew Point in a blog entry a while back, and it’s really useful especially if you need to pole without being completely warmed up or if the pole is very cold. The spray has no fragrance and is oil-free. The ingredients are all natural: distilled blue solar water, vegetable glycerin, phenoxyethanol (a commonly used preservative) and caprylyl glycol.
- Mighty Grip: A tasteless, odorless, and colorless powder, less is more with Mighty Grip! To apply, tap a small amount into your hand and rub them together until your hands heat up- you need the product to get warm in order for it to get activated. You can lightly press your palms onto the pole or other parts of your body to spread. It is VERY tacky; I would recommend this product more for spin pole work and high-grip applications. I’ve heard some reports that it works with sweaty hands, but your mileage will vary.
- Dry Hands: This is a really popular product in the studios near me; it’s a thick clear/whitish liquid that you can spread on your hands or any part of your body and let dry before you pole. It smells a little bit like alcohol but that’s it. If you only sweat lightly, this can help to minimize slip but is not really appropriate for very heavy sweating or prolonged sweat control. It adds tack but can also dry out your hands and if you’re using it on a static pole, the additional friction can increase any issues with blisters or calluses. The ingredients are alcohol, silica, methyl glycol, phenyl trimethicone, and cyclomethicone.
- iTac2: iTac2 is a beeswax-based natural product that comes with a rather strong vanilla scent and is available in different “tack” levels as well. You scoop a little out of the tub with the back of a fingernail, and spread it on your body and/or hands and then rub to heat and spread. Although some have reported success with it in very warm or humid conditions, I would be wary because it can “liquify” under heat and become less grippy very quickly.
- Tite Grip: This is a light orange, thick liquid that you spread on your palms (the color is meant to look skin-toned when it’s applied) rubbing them together lightly until the product gets tacky; then let air dry. This is my holy grail for sweaty hands, and I have blogged about it before (I suggest applying it 30 mins prior to pole if you have truly sweaty hands), but it is an antiperspirant so it will not really add grip unless you layer another product over it. I have heard of success with putting it on the soles of feet for tricks that require grip there, but it’s otherwise not appropriate for use on the body as it does not add tack. The ingredients are similar to many antiperspirants but for a full list, please see the manufacturer’s website.
Additional grip aids will be added in the future: Grrrip, Cramer’s, rosin crystals, toothpaste, shaving cream, Liquid Grip, EcoBalls, Gorilla Gold, Platinum Grip, distilled white vinegar, Corn Husker’s lotion… and feel free to let me know if I’ve left anything out! If you have found that your personal experience runs counter to any of the info presented here, or have questions, please post in the comments!