The Impact of Tapioca Starch in Personal Care Products

The Impact of Tapioca Starch in Personal Care Products

Tapioca starch, derived from the roots of the cassava plant (Manihot esculenta) is known for its smooth texture and natural origin, it offers numerous benefits that follow the trend of effective and sustainable personal care solutions without sacrificing quality. 

NATIVACARE™ 9360, a specialized tapioca starch product by Ingredion is designed to offer improved sensorial properties and better formulation stability. By incorporating tapioca starch into personal care products, formulators can accomplish a desirable balance between performance and sustainability, addressing both consumer preferences and environmental concerns.

Tapioca Starch: Chemical Composition and Origin

Tapioca starch is primarily composed of two polysaccharides: 

  • Amylose:  a linear polymer of glucose units, contributes to the gel-forming properties of tapioca starch

  • Amylopectin: is a highly branched polymer that imparts viscosity and elasticity, which are essential for thickening and stabilizing formulations.

The chemical formula for Amylose is (C6H10O5)n, where 'n' represents the number of glucose units, typically ranging from 300 to several thousand. Amylopectin shares the same basic formula but with a branched structure, leading to different physicochemical properties. Tapioca starch is neutral in pH, usually around 6.0 to 7.0, making it compatible with various personal care formulations without causing irritation.

The extraction process for tapioca starch used in personal care products is similar to that used for food applications, but with additional refinement steps to ensure purity and functionality. The process begins with the harvesting of cassava roots, which are peeled, washed, and grated. The grated pulp is then mixed with water to extract the starch granules. 

This blend is allowed to settle, and the starch is separated, dried, and further refined to remove any residual impurities or fibers. For personal care applications, an additional purification step may be included to ensure the starch is free from contaminants and possesses the desired sensory properties.

Tapioca provides a non-greasy, silky texture to personal care products that make it an ideal ingredient for products like lotions, creams, and powders, where it can enrich the sensory experience without compromising the formulation’s stability. The granule size of tapioca starch is typically around 5 to 35 micrometers, which contributes to its smooth texture and ability to absorb excess oils.

Tapioca Starch: Superior Texture and Functionality in Personal Care

One of the primary benefits of tapioca starch in skincare and haircare products is its ability to intensify the end-product texture. The specific grade of tapioca starch used in NATIVACARE™ 9360 is designed to offer superior performance, sensory properties, and better formulation stability. Its processing ensures it complies with the higher standards expected for personal care professionals, providing consistent quality and effectiveness.

  • When incorporated into lotions, creams, and serums, tapioca starch imparts a smooth, silky feel, reducing greasiness while providing a great sensory experience. This property is particularly valuable in formulations intended for oily skin, as tapioca starch can absorb excess sebum, leaving the skin with a matte finish.

  • In haircare products, tapioca starch functions as a natural alternative to synthetic polymers, providing thickening and volumizing effects while boosting shampoos and conditioner’s spreadability, ensuring even application and better distribution of active ingredients. Additionally, its film-forming ability helps provide a protective layer on the hair shaft, making it more manageable and shiny.

Additionally, tapioca starch is hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin, making it an excellent choice for products aimed at all skin types. Its natural and biodegradable nature aligns with the growing consumer preference for eco-friendly ingredients, reducing the environmental impact of personal care products.

Tapioca Starch: Synergy Effects

Tapioca starch's molecular structure, characterized by its high Amylopectin content, enables it to blend effortlessly with a wide selection of compounds. The presence of Amylopectin provides viscosity and stability, while its neutral pH and hypoallergenic nature ensure compatibility with numerous active ingredients and additives commonly used in skincare and haircare formulations.

  • Hyaluronic Acid: Tapioca starch increases the moisture retention properties of hyaluronic acid due to its film-forming capability, which helps lock in moisture. This combination aims to increase skin hydration and elasticity, making products more effective in moisturizing and anti-aging.

Usage: Typically used at 0.1% to 2% for hyaluronic acid and 1% to 10% for tapioca starch in formulations to produce hydrating serums and moisturizing creams designed to provide long-lasting hydration and plumpness.

  • Aloe Vera Extract: Combines the soothing and anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera with the qualities of tapioca starch. This combination is ideal for calming irritated skin and increasing the smoothness of creams and gels.

Usage: Aloe vera extract is commonly used at 1% to 5%, while tapioca starch is used at 2% to 8% to develop soothing lotions and calming gel masks aimed at reducing redness and irritation.

  • Vitamin E (Tocopherol): Tapioca starch helps stabilize vitamin E in formulations, preventing oxidation and increasing product longevity, providing antioxidant benefits, protecting the skin from free radicals, and extending the shelf life of personal care products

Usage: Vitamin E is effective at 0.5% to 2%, with tapioca starch used at 3% to 7%, resulting in the creation of great antioxidant lotions and protective creams formulated to reduce wrinkles and protect the skin.

  • Glycerin: Enhances the humectant properties of glycerin, improving skin hydration due to its ability to attract and retain moisture. 

    Usage: Glycerin is used at 2% to 10%, while tapioca starch is used at 1% to 5%. This combination results in products that are more effective in retaining moisture and providing a soft, smooth skin feel.

  • Shea Butter: Tapioca starch reduces the greasy feel of shea butter, making it more pleasant to use in formulations due to its oil-absorbing properties. Able to boost the moisturizing effect while improving the sensory characteristics of lotions and creams.

    Usage: Shea butter is used at 3% to 20%, with tapioca starch at 2% to 10%, often used in nourishing body creams and rich hand balms designed for deep hydration without greasiness.

  • Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): Enhances the skin-brightening and anti-inflammatory effects of niacinamide, helping to improve skin tone and reduce redness. This combination is effective in reducing redness, improving skin tone, and providing a smooth, non-greasy finish.

    Usage: Niacinamide is typically used at 2% to 5%, while tapioca starch is used at 1% to 5%—an excellent addition in brightening serums and anti-redness creams designed to reduce inflammation.

Safety Recommendations: When formulating with tapioca starch and these synergistic compounds, it is crucial to adhere to recommended usage percentages to ensure product safety and effectiveness. Conducting stability and compatibility tests is essential to confirm that the ingredients work well together and maintain their efficacy over the product's shelf life.

Tapioca starch’s synergistic profile allows manufacturers to meet the growing consumer demand for high-performance, natural, and sustainable solutions. NATIVACARE™ 9360, a premium grade of tapioca starch by Ingredion takes this to another level. Let’s see how it interacts when used in the following products:

  • Moisturizing Lotions and Creams: The film-forming ability of NATIVACARE™ 9360 lies in the sustained release of active ingredients, boosting skin hydration and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It can be combined with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to improve efficacy and provide a smooth, velvety texture.

  • Hair Conditioners and Masks: Highlights texture and spreadability when combined with conditioning agents such as panthenol and botanical extracts to improve manageability and shine, offering a luxurious feel and performance. 

  • Soothing Gels: Provides a cooling sensation, reducing redness and irritation, ideal for after-sun care and sensitive skin products thanks to the calming effect properties of aloe vera extract and chamomile. 


NATIVACARE™ 9360 properties, including excellent texture enhancement, moisture retention, and oil absorption, make it an indispensable component in a wide array of formulations. The versatility of tapioca starch extends to its compatibility with numerous other active ingredients, enabling formulators to create a variety of products designed to comply with the diverse needs of consumers.

By leveraging the synergistic effects of tapioca starch with compounds like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and niacinamide, manufacturers can develop high-performance products that deliver superior results. As the market continues to evolve, the use of such versatile and sustainable ingredients will be key to meeting future demands.

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