Maltodextrin: What Is It, Skin & Hair Benefits, Cosmetic Uses & Side Effects

Priya Singh
Fact-Checker: Priya Singh
This article was last updated on: May 27, 2023
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Picture yourself in the aisles of your favorite beauty supply store, scanning through the list of ingredients on the back of a cosmetic product. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably found yourself scratching your head in confusion, trying to decode the seemingly endless scientific terms. Let’s be honest, it feels like you need a degree in chemistry to make sense of it all!

One such ingredient that tends to pop up on these product labels is Maltodextrin. “Hold on, isn’t that a food additive?” you might wonder. Well, yes, Maltodextrin does have a presence in various foods, but for the sake of this piece, we’ll be focusing on its topical application in cosmetics.

In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of Maltodextrin and uncover its many facets within the realm of beauty.

What is Maltodextrin?

In the cosmetic world, Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide derived from starch, often corn, rice, or potato. Also known as “3,7-Dimethyl octa-1,6-diene-3-yl acetate,” this multifaceted ingredient offers various functions within beauty products. As an absorbent, binding, emulsion stabilizing, film forming, hair conditioning, and skin conditioning agent, Maltodextrin provides a myriad of subtle benefits that enhance the overall performance of the product.

Typically, Maltodextrin is incorporated as part of a larger formulation rather than being used as a stand-alone ingredient. Cosmetic concentrations can vary depending on the desired effect and the product type. Due to its versatility, Maltodextrin can be found in skincare, hair care, and makeup products that aim to improve texture, smoothen application, and condition both skin and hair.

Who Can Use Maltodextrin?

Maltodextrin is generally suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin. Thanks to its mildness, diverse skin types can reap the rewards of Maltodextrin without aggravating existing skin concerns. However, as with any ingredient, it is essential to note that individual sensitivities may still exist.

For those following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you’ll be pleased to know that Maltodextrin is primarily plant-derived, making it compliant with animal-free requirements. While it usually comes from corn, rice, or potato starch, it’s important to verify the specific source with the product manufacturer if you are concerned about meeting any dietary prerequisites.

As for pregnant or breastfeeding women, Maltodextrin is generally considered safe for topical use. However, as with any cosmetic ingredient during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it’s always wise to consult your healthcare practitioner if you have concerns before incorporating Maltodextrin-containing products into your daily routine.

Maltodextrin Skin Benefits

Maltodextrin offers a variety of skin benefits, which can be attributed to its official CosIng functions. Some of the most noteworthy advantages include:

  • Skin Conditioning: Maltodextrin acts as a humectant, drawing moisture from the environment and locking it into the skin. This results in a well-hydrated complexion, making the skin smoother and plumper. These moisture-retaining properties also help maintain the skin’s natural barrier, which protects against external irritants and pathogens.
  • Absorbent: Maltodextrin’s absorbent properties allow it to take in excess oils on the skin’s surface. This quality makes it particularly useful for individuals with oily or combination skin, as it provides a matte finish without over-drying the skin.

It’s important to note that these beneficial effects are not permanent and require the ongoing use of Maltodextrin-containing products for sustained results.

Maltodextrin Hair Benefits

When it comes to hair care, Maltodextrin also provides several advantages based on its official CosIng functions:

  • Hair Conditioning: Maltodextrin’s humectant properties work wonders for hair health by attracting and retaining moisture. This results in softer, more manageable tresses that are less prone to breakage and split ends.
  • Film Forming: As a film-forming agent, Maltodextrin coats the hair strands with a thin layer, protecting them from environmental damage, pollution, and oxidative stress. Additionally, this layer helps to smooth down frizz and flyaways, leaving the hair with a sleek and polished appearance.

Just like with its skin benefits, Maltodextrin’s hair benefits are not permanent, and continued usage is necessary to maintain the desired effects.

Maltodextrin’s Non-active Cosmetic Uses

Maltodextrin’s role in cosmetics extends beyond its hair and skin benefits. Some of its non-active uses, based on the official CosIng functions, include:

  • Emulsion Stabilizing: Maltodextrin works as an emulsifier, ensuring that the oil and water components of cosmetic products remain uniformly blended. This stabilization offers a smoother consistency and even distribution of active ingredients, promoting optimal product performance when applied to the skin.
  • Binding: Maltodextrin can act as a binding agent, providing structure and cohesion to cosmetic formulations. This ensures that the product remains intact during use, avoiding crumbling or disintegration over time.
  • Thickening: Maltodextrin can moderately thicken cosmetic formulas, giving them a more luxurious texture and feel. This quality is particularly valued in skincare and hair care products, where a richer, creamier consistency is often preferred by consumers.

Each of these non-active functions contributes to the overall quality, performance, and user experience of cosmetic products containing Maltodextrin.

Comedogenic Rating

Maltodextrin receives a comedogenic rating of 0, meaning it is considered non-comedogenic. This low rating is due to its non-oil nature and its ability to absorb excess oil without clogging pores. As a result, Maltodextrin is suitable for those prone to acne or breakouts. Its mildness and compatibility with various skin types make it a versatile ingredient that can benefit a broad range of individuals.


In the world of skincare and hair care, finding the perfect products for your unique needs often involves experimentation and trial and error. Maltodextrin is an impressive ingredient that not only boasts active effects on the skin and hair but also enhances the texture, consistency, and overall performance of cosmetic products.

Opting for products containing Maltodextrin can be a game-changer for those looking for products that offer immediate benefits as well as non-active enhancements to the overall user experience. Its versatility and compatibility with various skin types make it an attractive alternative to some other ingredients that may have a narrower range of applications.

Maltodextrin may not be the most talked-about ingredient in the beauty sphere, but its effects on the skin, hair, and overall product performance should not be underestimated. However, patience is crucial when it comes to seeing significant results from any skincare or hair care regimen. As with most ingredients, consistent use over an extended period is necessary to reap the full benefits that Maltodextrin has to offer.

Summing things up, Maltodextrin is a multifaceted ingredient that can enhance various aspects of cosmetic products while providing numerous skin and hair benefits. Its mildness, non-comedogenic nature, and compatibility with different skin types make it a go-to ingredient for many. As you navigate the world of beauty and self-care, don’t overlook the potential of this seemingly humble yet beneficial component.

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