June 28, 2022


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HairFix XH Maltodextrin

4 min read

INCI: Maltodextrin / VP copolymer

HairFix XH Maltodextrin is a “naturally-derived” (buzzword) sugar-based, non-ionic polymer manufacturers use when they want to make hair gels and mousses with superior hold.

Initially I thought this ingredient was used to make things THICK like hair gel and other ingredients containing carbomer.   I don’t know if it’s because I use it at such a low percentage (less than 10%) or what, but I don’t seem to get any gel-like thickness from the percentages I’ve used thus far.

What I think HairFix XH Maltodextrin (HairFix) is used for is to create that ‘hold’ ability.  You know how gels are not only ‘thick’ (viscosity) but also provide ‘hold’ (polymers/film-formers) and help 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 “Carbomer” ….. “VP / VA copolymer” (or “PVP” or “PVP/VA” or  “polyquaternium-4” or etc)….. in the ingredients list.

Those two categories of ingredients are different and serve different purposes, according to my understanding.

Stuff like Carbomer or Sodium Carbomer are what turns it into a gel (viscosity modifier).  Stuff 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 and they had almost no hold whatsoever.  Sodium carbomer just converts your water into gel-form from my testing.  For hold/curl-popping, you need a polymer/film-former.  HairFix XH Maltodextrin is a polymer.

Unlike other ingredients,  HairFix doesn’t need to be neutralized with TEA to adjust the pH.  And it has an overall performance level equivalent to PVP, according to happi.com.

MakingCosmetics.com also says it’s compatible with some of my fav ingredients I normally use in my DIY mixes like Panthenol and glycerin.

Since it is compatible with ingredients like petro-based propylene glycol, I’m gonna assume it’s also compatible with my favorite natural alternative to petro-based glycols: NatureSilk.

You add HairFix to the water phase when you’re making your DIY mixes.  Usage rate is anywhere between 4% – 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 yet.

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.)  Almost sounds like something I would try to make. Teehee!

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 who tend to gravitate towards more natural-based ingredients.

Happi.com reports about scientific tests done by testing Maltodextrin/VP copolymer gels against 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 those other synthetic polymer ingredients.

So what the heck does all this mean??  It means that natural formulators may have found an ingredient which works just as well as traditional gel-making ingredients BUT that is also a tiny bit more natural and 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 to keep the pH from dipping below 5 or 6)

Now get to formulating!


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