Let’s talk about stickiness/tackiness.

Stickiness and/or tackiness in formulations can happen for a variety of reasons, but the broad one is that there’s a high enough concentration of a sticky ingredient in a formulation that the stickiness comes through in the end product, without anything to sufficiently counter that stickiness.

Perceptions of/opinions on tackiness/stickiness are very personal, so it’s important that you understand how sensitive you are to tackiness. If your tolerance for tackiness is significantly lower than mine, there’s a good chance you will find some of the formulations I share sticky/tacky enough that you don’t like them. That doesn’t mean you did anything wrong, it just means you are more sticky-sensitive than I am.

Think of it a bit like sweetness—one person’s perfectly sweetened cup of coffee will be disgustingly over-sweet to someone else, and too bitter to drink to another. Because stickiness is such a personal thing, I really can’t tell you if you will find something to be sticky or not… I will note in the formulation if I think there’s a potential for it to be tacky to some, or if I think it is best topped with a different sort of product to reduce stickiness, but there is no universal sticky/not sticky line that I can advise you on.

A few common things that can be sticky/tacky:

  • Products with high concentrations of glycerin (though definitions of “high” vary! I have made lotions with 30% glycerin that I love. Others can’t stand that.)
  • Mostly watery things with small amounts of oils and humectants (like gel creams, mists, and toners)
  • Concoctions that contain high amounts of beeswax

Ways to reduce tackiness:

  • Reduce the ingredient that makes it tacky, if you know what that is.
  • Include 2–3% dimethicone or cyclomethicone. PEG-8 dimethicone can be a good option in otherwise hydrous formulations.

And remember—you can always learn more about the ingredients we use in formulations in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia!

Posted in: Troubleshooting & Adjusting