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When Tackiness Is a Good Thing

By Elsa de Berker

From tan lines to trucker hats, white stilettos to rainbow rhinestonesand glitter!—few topics are more divisive than good-bad taste. For some, trashy-chic is a way of life, (think Hailey Beiber’s exposed pink thong at the 2019 Met Gala). For legions of others, it’s a garish smear, a damaging aesthetic to be avoided at all costs and by any measures. Stand on the latter end of the spectrum? Consider this exception: When it comes to skincare, sometimes tackiness is a good thing. 

If this sounds gross and, like, totally not cool at all—pay attention to the details: The only good-tacky skincare we’re proposing is the kind containing an essential amino acid called L-arginine. It’s a superhero ingredient in the Kombucha Power Toner, and responsible for the slightly sticky after effect that some people feel surprised by post-application. “In cosmetics, arginine works as a neutralizer to acidity, and has skin conditioning properties,” says Youth To The People’s Product Innovation Manager, Mercedes Taylor, explaining that she purposefully paired L-arginine with glycolic and lactic acids in the Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner to effectively reduce pore size, smooth, and exfoliate—all without sapping moisture from the skin. In fact, arginine in combination with the toner’s AHAs has a hydrating effect, making it great for all skin types, including dry.

Here’s the science of why a well-placed dose of tackiness works: “Lactic acid interacts with the arginine in solution to create arginine lactate, which is a fantastic humectant and skin hydrator,” says Taylor. The sticky texture that one may feel from the toner, then, “is due to the nature of the arginine lactate retaining water. This is essential to skin staying hydrated, even while the AHAs are working their exfoliation magic.” Taylor stresses that “AHAs themselves are not dehydrating, but in conjunction with other common neutralizers, like sodium hydroxide, they can form salts that can feel dehydrating.” To be clear: dewy, youthful skin is forever the goal, and dehydration is its nemesis. 

What’s more, arginine has the data to support it. “In my professional opinion, arginine is nothing but advantageous,” says Taylor. “I don’t have any science that would suggest side effects or reasons to avoid it. We are really conscious about our formulations, so using a cheap neutralizer just didn’t make sense for this product. We wanted to create a toner that wasn’t like anything else on the market, and this is it.” 

So now we’re back to where we began, and we’ll end with a statement: Sometimes, tackiness is a great thing.