Arginine at a glance

  • Amino acid naturally present in the body, considered essential to human development
  • Offers antioxidant benefits when used as a skin care ingredient
  • Has hydrating properties
  • Derivatives of arginine can be used to create cosmetic surfactants
  • Proven track record of safety in personal care product formulas

Arginine description

Arginine is an amino acid naturally present in the body, considered essential to human development. As a skin care ingredient, it delivers antioxidant benefits and plays a role in repairing visible skin damage. Additionally, arginine’s hydration properties have been studied in depth. This essential amino acid plays a key role in skin’s natural production of replenishing substances such as proline and urea. Arginine may be animal-derived or synthetic; both are equivalent in terms of benefits for skin, and Paula’s Choice uses the latter. Researchers are currently exploring the use of cosmetic surfactants derived from arginine as a more “biocompatible” alternative to traditional forms. In the realm of hair care, arginine has been shown to decrease damage from oxidative colouring or bleaching processes. In 2012, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel concluded that arginine is safe in the present practices of use and concentration (up to 18%) in cosmetics. It is also known as l-arginine.

Arginine references

  • Biobased Surfactants (Second Edition), 2019, pages 413-445
  • Scientific Reports, February 2016, pages 1-10
  • Cosmetic Ingredient Review, October 2012, pages 1-35
  • Journal of Advanced Research, July 2010, pages 169–177
  • International Journal of Cosmetic Science, April 2005, page 139
  • Wound Repair and Regeneration, November-December 2003, pages 419-423

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.