Zea Mays (Corn) Starch

What Is It?

Many ingredients made from the corn plant, Zea mays may be used in cosmetics and personal care products. The most common corn-derived ingredients used in cosmetics include Zea Mays (Corn) Oil and Zea Mays (Corn) Starch. Other ingredients include Zea Mays (Corn) Cob Meal, Zea Mays (Corn) Cob Powder, Zea Mays (Corn) Fruit, Zea Mays (Corn) Germ Extract, Zea Mays (Corn) Germ Oil, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil Unsaponifiables, Zea Mays (Corn) Gluten Protein, Zea Mays (Corn) Kernel Extract, Zea Mays (Corn) Kernel Meal, Zea Mays (Corn) Seed Flour, Zea Mays (Corn) Silk Extract, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Corn Acid, Corn Glycerides and Potassium Cornate. 

These ingredients are used in the formulation of skin care, hair care, bath products, eye and facial makeup, lipsticks, and hair dyes and colors.

 

Why is it used in cosmetics and personal care products?

The following functions have been reported for Corn-derived ingredients in cosmetic products.

  • Abrasives – Zea Mays (Corn) Cob Meal, Zea Mays (Corn) Cob Powder, Zea Mays (Corn) Kernel Meal, Zea Mays (Corn) Seed Flour, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch
  • Absorbents – Zea Mays (Corn) Seed Flour, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch
  • Binders – Zea Mays (Corn) Seed Flour Bulking Agents – Zea Mays (Corn) Cob Meal, Zea Mays (Corn) Gluten Protein, Zea Mays (Corn) Kernel Meal, Zea Mays (Corn) Seed Flour
  • Hair conditioning agents – Zea Mays (Corn) Gluten Protein, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil Unsaponifiables, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein
  • Opacifying agents – Corn Acid Skin conditioning agents – humectant – Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Corn Glycerides
  • Skin conditioning agents – miscellaneous – Zea Mays (Corn) Gluten Protein, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil Unsaponifiables, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein
  • Skin conditioning agents – occlusive – Zea Mays (Corn) Germ Oil, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil
  • Skin protectant – Zea Mays (Corn) Starch
  • Surfactants – cleansing agents – Corn Acid, Potassium Cornate
  • Surfactants – emulsifying agents – Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Corn Glycerides, Potassium Cornate
  • Viscosity increasing agent – aqueous – Zea Mays (Corn) Starch

Scientific Facts:

Corn is one of the most commonly grown foods in the world. The seed can be eaten raw or cooked and the mature seed can be dried and used whole or ground into flour. Corn Oil, obtained from the seed, is an all-purpose oil that is frequently used for cooking and as a food such as in salad dressings. There are many varieties of Corn, including some that have been produced using biotechnology. The varieties may also be called genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Safety Information:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers Corn Flour and Corn Meal to be foods and has specific specifications for these Corn products. Corn Gluten and Corn Silk Extract are included on FDA’s list of substances considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for direct addition to food. Corn Oil is permitted for use as an indirect food additive for use as a component of coatings for food contact surfaces and as a component of paper and paper board that comes into contact with food. The FDA permits Zea Mays (Corn) Starch to be used in Over-the-Counter (OTC) skin protectant drug products. When used in these drug products this ingredient must be listed on the label as Topical Starch. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel evaluated short-term and long-term safety studies on Corn-derived ingredients and identified no safety issues or concern for the use of these ingredients in cosmetics.

More safety Information:

CIR Safety Review:

The CIR Expert Panel noted that Zea Mays (Corn) Oil is commonly used as a vehicle and as a control in toxicity studies. When used as a control, the doses of Zea Mays (Corn) Oil have not resulted in adverse effects. As with other fats and oils, large oral doses of Zea Mays (Corn) Oil may contribute to obesity, heart effects and cancer. The CIR Expert Panel did not consider dietary studies of high doses of Zea Mays (Corn) Oil relevant to the lower exposure to Zea Mays (Corn) Oil from cosmetics and personal care products. Zea Mays (Corn) Kernel Extract was not an eye irritant. In clinical tests, Zea Mays (Corn) Kernel Extract, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Zea Mays (Corn) Gluten Protein and Zea Mays (Corn) Silk Extract were not dermal irritants or sensitizers. Because of the common use of Corn as food, knowledge of the composition of the various Corn-derived ingredients, and dermal testing of representative ingredients, the CIR Expert Panel concluded that Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Zea Mays (Corn) Cob Meal, Zea Mays (Corn) Cob Powder, Zea Mays (Corn) Fruit, Zea Mays (Corn) Germ Extract, Zea Mays (Corn) Germ Oil, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil Unsaponifiables, Zea Mays (Corn) Gluten Protein, Zea Mays (Corn) Kernel Extract, Zea Mays (Corn) Kernel Meal, Zea Mays (Corn) Seed Flour, Zea Mays (Corn) Silk Extract, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Corn Acid, Corn Glycerides and Potassium Cornate were safe for use as cosmetic ingredients.

Link to the FDA Code of Federal Regulations for Corn Gluten, Corn Silk Extract, Corn Flour and Meal, Corn Oil and Corn Starch

The Corn-derived ingredients may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

EU Cosmetic Regulation 

More Scientific Information:

Many of the Corn-derived ingredients belong to a large and diverse class of materials that are not defined chemically. The majority of the materials in this class are mixtures derived from plants (herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, or seeds). In cosmetics and personal care products, these ingredients have a variety of functions, including abrasives, absorbants, binders, bulking agents, hair conditioning agents and skin conditioning agents. Zea Mays (Corn) Starch also functions as a skin protectant.

Resources:

Find out more about the regulation of over-the-counter drugs by the Food and Drug Administration

Find out more about the regulation of Food Additives by the Food and Drug Administration