Zea Mays Corn Starch



Zea Mays Corn Starch at a glance

  • Starch obtained from corn that can be formulated to serve different roles 
  • Most famously used as an absorbent that tempers shine on oily skin 
  • Also functions as a viscosity increasing ingredient and film-forming agent 
  • OTC monographed as a skin protectant when formulated under particular conditions 
  • Can also be used as an abrasive agent (not recommended in this capacity for the safety of skin)

Zea Mays Corn Starch description

_Zea mays_ (corn) starch is quite literally the starch derived from varietals of corn. As a skin care ingredient, it’s most famously used as an absorbent that lends mattifying properties (helpful for controlling oily skin) and is also popular in makeup powders where it lends a dry yet silky feel and can be lighter on skin than some grades of talc. _Zea mays_ (corn) starch can also be incorporated to increase the viscosity of cosmetic solutions (similar to how corn starch is used in cooking to thicken food). In additional capacities, it is blended with other ingredients to create film-forming properties on skin. _Zea mays_ (corn) starch may also be used as an abrasive agent, such as you might find in manual exfoliating products. When formulated in this way, there’s potential for skin sensitization due to the abrasiveness and uneven shape of particles. Interestingly, topical starches, such as corn starch, are classified as skin protectants under the U.S. FDA monograph when formulated as an OTC (over the counter) active. This means they serve to protect skin from harmful stimuli and provide relief to compromised skin. These varying roles demonstrate that how an ingredient is incorporated into a formula plays a major factor in overall efficacy, aesthetics, functions, gentleness, and benefits. In their 2013 report, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel surveyed 278 personal care products containing _Zea mays_ (corn) starch ranging between 0.00002-99% concentration. Based on their analysis, Zea mays (corn) starch is safe in these cosmetic practices of use. Common names and alternative spellings include: corn starch and cornstarch.

Zea Mays Corn Starch references

  • CosmeticsInfo.org, Accessed December 2022, ePublication 
  • FDA.gov, Accessed December 2022, ePublication 
  • International Journal of Toxicology, 2011, pages 17S-39S

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.