INCI: Maltodextrin / VP copolymer
(UPDATED) HairFix XH Maltodextrin is a “naturally-derived” (buzzword) sugar-based, non-ionic polymer manufacturers use when they want to make hair gels that provide superior hold.
Initially I thought this ingredient was used to make a product THICK like hair gel.
I don’t know if it’s because I use it at such a low percentage (less than 10%) or what, but I didn’t get any gel-like thickness from the percentages I’ve used. And that’s for a reason.
HairFix XH Maltodextrin (HairFix) is used to create a stiff but flexible “hold”. You know how gels are not only ‘thick’ (viscosity) but also provide ‘hold’ (polymers/film-formers) and helps enhance curls?
Well that’s at least a 2-part system, with different ingredients providing those benefits. Look at your store-bought gel. You may see water, a humectant, “VP / VA copolymer” (or “PVP” or “PVP/VA” or “polyquaternium-4” or etc)… and then… “carbomer” in the ingredients list.
Those two categories of ingredients are different and serve different purposes, according to my understanding.
Ingredients like Carbomer or Sodium Carbomer are what turns it into a gel (viscosity modifier). Ingredients like PVP or HairFix provide the power behind the ‘hold’ (polymer).
Like I said earlier, I have yet (as of this write up) to make a DIY recipe ‘thick’ like a gel just by using HairFix.
I’ve made gels with Sodium carbomer which had almost no hold whatsoever. That’s because sodium carbomer just converts your water into gel-form. It’s a viscosity modifier.
For the actual “hold” or “curl-popping”, you need a polymer/film-former and possibly a humectant like sorbitol. HairFix XH Maltodextrin is simply the polymer. Don’t look for it to swell up into a nice store-quality gel. That’s not what it’s for.
Unlike other ingredients, HairFix doesn’t need to be neutralized with TEA. And it has an overall performance level equivalent to PVP, according to happi.com. MakingCosmetics.com says it’s compatible with some of my fav humectants too like panthenol, betaine, and glycerin.
It’s also compatible with ingredients like petro-based propylene glycol and non-petro based glycol alternatives like pentylene glycol and propanediol (aka Naturesilk).
Add HairFix to the water phase when making DIY mixes. Usage rate is anywhere between 4% – 36%. Please start at 4%. As of now, I can’t think of a reason why you’d want to use Hairfix XH maltodextrin at 36%.
I haven’t been able to find complaints about bad flaking when formulating with this ingredient. But that could just be because not a lot of people have used it at home.
Note: The INCI name is Maltodextrin / VP copolymer. This is the same ingredient listed in SheaMoisture’s Curl Memory Leave-in Conditioner (CocoShea Biolipid Complex w/ Agave Nectar and Black Seed oil.)
According to happi.com, it’s created in a more sustainable way than traditional synthetic polymers. Gels created with this ingredient are said to be equivalent in performance to synthetically-derived gels, according to happi.com.
More than 50% of this ingredient is derived from natural content, which makes it a go-to for companies that gravitate towards less petro-based ingredients.
Happi.com reported on a scientific tests done using Maltodextrin/VP copolymer gels vs. traditional gels made with PVP or VP/ VA Copolymer.
According to the results, there were no detectable differences between the “on-hair performance properties” of Maltodextrin/VP copolymer and regular gels. In fact, the recommendation was that Maltodextrin/VP copolymer be substituted for the other synthetic ingredients.
So what the heck does this mean?? It means natural formulators may have found an ingredient which works just as well as traditional gel-forms ingredients, BUT that is also a tiny bit more sustainable.
If you’re looking to make a gel, just remember you need at least 4 ingredients and 1 extra:
polymer (like HairFix or VP / VA copolymer)
viscosity enhancer (like carbomer or sodium carbomer)
TEA (used with carbomer; can be skipped if using “sodium carbomer”)
Now get to formulating!