HallStar Combines Science Nature

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | November 10, 2011

With the acquisitions of Biochemica and B&T, Hallstar is bringing serious science to the natural personal care segment.

HallStar chairman, president and CEO John Paro is confident that his team is creating the right formula for success. The recent acquisitions of BioChemica and B&T S.r.l, gave HallStar entry into the fast-growing natural personal care business. At the same time, the company will impart its strong science-backed heritage to the newly-acquired businesses. Of course, BioChemica and B&T provide plenty of growth opportunities for HallStar, which has been a leader in the global ester business for decades.

“By entering the natural ingredient segment, we can increase sales to existing customers by 40%,” Paro said. “And we are bringing HallStar-type science into the natural space.”

Both BioChemica and B&T are natural ingredient suppliers, but Paro is quick to note that each has expertise in very different types of products. For instance, BioChemica offers a broad range of exotic butters that formulators are putting into hair and skin care products both for the unique benefits of the individual butters and as natural replacements for hydrocarbon based emollients.

“They’re easy to use in formulations,” he explained. “We offer a wide range of natural and vegetal derived butters from the tropical regions of South America, Africa and Asia.”

B&T, in contrast, has a rich heritage in olive oil. Its line of products includes liquid crystal/PEG-free emulsifiers, mild surfactants, stabilizing agents, emollients and active ingredients all derived from proprietary olive-based chemistry. Moreover, B&T researchers are performing claim-substantiation tests on a wide range of natural ingredients, which complements what BioChemica and, ultimately, HallStar, can offer personal care product formulators. Most importantly, customers are already reaping the benefits from the acquisitions.

“The early returns are more gratifying than we thought,” said Paro. “There’s been a lot of cross-fertilization of HallStar customers wanting a BioChemica butter or a B&T customer wanting a HallStar photostabilizer.”

The Right Fit

It’s that seemingly limitless combination of opportunities that excites the HallStar CEO. After all, HallStar’s expertise in photostability of sun care ingredients is widely known. The company made its mark on the personal care industry years ago when it demonstrated that avobenzone was a photo-unstable sunscreen filter that must be stabilized with other ingredients, such as HallBrite PSF, an organomodified silicone that quenches the triplet excited state.

Most recently, HallStar launched SolaStay S1 (INCI: ethylhexyl methoxycrylene), which photostabilizes the combination of octinoxate and avobenzone and is said to work up to 1000 times faster than octocrylene to protect against a loss of absorbance.

Now, the company wants formulators to use its technology to photostabilize other ingredients.

“Photostability is not only a sun care issue. Rather, photostability expertise needs to be applied to any skin care or hair care ingredient which is subject to light or photodegradation,” Paro said.

At the recent Sunscreen Symposium sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, HallStar’s Craig Bonda explained that retinol and retinyl palmitate are highly sensitive to UV radiation, undergoing rapid isomerization and leading to the production of photoproducts. But by incorporating a photostabilizer such as SolaStay S1 into their finished products, personal care formulators can protect their skin care actives. SolaStay S1 has been documented to photostabilize 0.1% retinol or 0.1% resveratrol at a use level of about 4%. Greater photostability means there is less potential for photoproducts and, presumably, toxicity. Incorporating photostabilizers into certain compounds can also reduce manufacturing costs, as Paro noted that some light-sensitive materials are currently manufactured in dark rooms, which adds to production expenses.

“We want to get the message of photostability into the skin and hair care markets, which are so much larger than the sun care market. It increases the market that we can serve,” he said.

To ensure that its message is heard, the HallStar team is reaching out to dermatologists and their related societies. Paro said that dermatologists are concerned by the problems of photostability of skin care products and are eager for solutions.

“We have initially targeted the dermatology channel with these new findings, and have already seen some early launches of hybrid sun care products with anti-aging claims, all enabled by Sola-Stay. We now intend to leverage these early successes into the larger sun and skin care brands.”

Global Opportunities

As it expands its portfolio, HallStar is also expanding its global footprint with Centers of Excellence. The Chicago center focuses on photostability and formulation; the Italian center is focused on naturals and the Akron, OH center is focused on customer care.

In the coming months and years, Paro expects to grow the personal care business aggressively in Europe, Brazil and China and has the funds to put market development resources, including formulating expertise, in all three places. At the same time, the company’s global manufacturing footprint strategy enables HallStar to manufacture personal care esters throughout the world.

About 75% of HallStar’s nearly $200 million in annual sales come from the US. Revenues are evenly divided between personal care and polymer additives. As it heads toward 2012, the company’s three-pronged strategy for growth in personal care—photostabilizer sales, natural ingredient sales, and market development and penetration—is firmly in place.

“We have a three-year strategy laid out and the resources to back it up,” said Paro. “We have a plan to increase our investment globally and move forward with confidence.”

Paro said he’s proud of the fact that HallStar didn’t make a single layoff during the 2007-2008 recession and is firm in his commitment to maintain his growth plan no matter what challenges lie ahead in 2012.

As it integrates the recent acquisitions of BioChemica and B&T, Paro said that his company will continue to seek new opportunities.

“HallStar will consider acquisitions to expand key personal care product lines and to increase its global manufacturing footprint.”

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