For years, cosmetic manufacturers have relied on silicones to provide a wide range of attributes in their personal care products. But executives at Wacker Silicones insist these materials can do even more, and are developing a roster of silicone hybrids to meet the growing demands of consumers around the world.
These developments come at a time when Wacker Chemical Corp. is on a roll. Last year, the company reported a 13% gain in sales to nearly $5.2 billion and a 36% surge in net income to $578 million. At its annual press briefing, which was held in Munich in March, then-company president and hief executive officer Peter-Alexander Wacker called the results the best in company history.
“International business, accounting for over 80% of group sales, was the main growth engine last year,” explained Dr. Wacker. “Sales growth was particularly strong in Asia, especially in China.”
More specifically, sales of silicones increased 6%, due primarily to volume gains. And those gains continued into 2008. First quarter corporate sales rose 8% to $1.5 billion. For the same period, sales of silicones rose 4% to $540 million.
Last month, as previously announced by the firm, Dr. Wacker was appointed chairman. Rudolf Staudigl took over as president and CEO.
The company offers more than 3000 different silicone products for a wide range of industries. One of the newest is Belsil P101, a polysiloxane and polyvinyl acetate material that enables formulators to create hairsprays that provide softness, silky touch and humidity resistance as well as hold and curl retention. The silicone loops in the hairstyling polymer are responsible for the silky, soft feel, according to Peter Ball, director of polymers, corporate research and development, Wacker.
“Cosmetics is one of the most competitive markets that Wacker competes in,” explained Dr. Ball during an international press workshop held in Germany in March. “Products such as Wacker-Belsil P101 provide the added value that our customers want.”
Wacker-Belsil P101 is a hybrid material that combines organic polymer blocks with silicone blocks, a combination that leads to a branched multiblock polymer structure. It is soluble in ethanol and in a wide range of ethanol/water mixtures.