June 2

Hair Care Boosts Wacker’s Sales

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Silicones provide a slip to hair care products, and last year, they provided a lift to Wacker’s results. In 2019, Wacker’s sales fell about 1% to $5.43 billion, due primarily to lower prices for silicon and standard silicones, but company executives noted that Wacker’s personal and household care products performed quite well in 2019, driven in large part by demand within the home and personal care businesses.

“This is especially true for personal care which grew significantly despite record breaking sales we saw in 2018. One of the key drivers again was hair care,” explained Thomas Koini, head of Wacker’s performance silicones business unit. “The demand for our silicone emulsions for shampoos and conditioners was robust and quite remarkable in 2019. The is also true for our silicone resins and elastomer gels for color cosmetics and skin care.”

The trend of Wacker’s overall business continued into the first quarter of 2020, as total sales fell 3% to about $1.2 billion, which the company blamed primarily on lower prices for solar-grade polysilicon and standard silicones. CEO Rudolf Staudigl noted that despite the global coronavirus pandemic, sales were nearly on par with Q1 2019 and EBITDA was substantially higher.

“In silicones and dispersible polymer powders, we benefitted from higher volumes,” said Staudigl.

The benefits of silicones in home and personal care formulations are well known. In home care applications, they impart gloss, protect surfaces, repel water and provide foam control. In personal care applications, silicones improve moisturization in skin care products, provide an elegant, silky feel to color cosmetics, and impart shine to hair. All of these properties are widely understood and appreciated in the global household and personal products industry, in recent years, silicones have come under fire for their environmental impact.

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“As silicones are important ingredients and widely used in personal care, Wacker has been dealing with this question for quite a while,” said Koini. “In 2017, we presented our first silicone emulsion with a plant based emulsifier. In 2018, we went the next step and launched Belsil Eco.”

The Belsil Eco brand consists of several silicone products which are partly based on renewable raw materials. Their organic units are manufactured with biomethanol produced from plant waste, which means that they are of non-fossil origin. According to Wacker’s calculations, around 1.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide can be saved per metric ton of biobased silicone fluid.

“Currently, we are having a closer look at our consumer care portfolio and checking possibilities how we can improve, for example, its biodegradability profile,” he added.

Wacker’s new silicone resin Belsil R 220 is said to tap into the current trend for controlling and changing the reflective properties of surfaces. According to the company, Belsil R 220 is ideal for formulators who want to create a shampoo that improves the shine of hair or a glossy nail varnish. Wacker also launched a silicone elastomer gel that can be used as an active agent in decorative and moisturizing cosmetics. Belsil EG 6000 is able to create an extremely pleasant skin feeling, something that cannot be achieved in this form with conventional silicone elastomer gels, according to Wacker. The product also ensures that creams and mascaras spread evenly on the skin.

Just last month, Wacker added two products to its silicone portfolio for hair care products—Belsil DM 3200E, a silicone fluid emulsion, and Belsil PF 100, a gloss agent.

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Wacker describes Belsil DM 3200E as a fine-particle emulsion of a high-viscosity dimethiconol in water. The low-viscosity emulsion is said to be ideal for formulating hair care products, where it serves as a conditioning component in shampoos and conditioners. It makes hair easier to comb after washing and leaves it feeling pleasantly soft to the touch, according to Wacker. The good conditioning properties of the high-molecular viscous silicone were unlocked by the development of a patented production process that is capable of dispersing the dimethiconol in the form of tiny droplets.

When the hair is shampooed, the emulsion’s silicone fluid droplets, which are just 160 nanometers in diameter, are deposited selectively on the hair fibers, protecting the hair much better than less finely dispersed emulsions. Furthermore, Belsil DM 3200 E is said to make wet hair exceptionally easy to comb and leaves dry hair feeling soft and supple. Laboratory tests have shown that the force needed to comb wet treated hair is reduced by more than 50% compared to untreated hair. What is more, the hair’s suppleness is increased by 30%.

Another feature of Belsil DM 3200 E is its extraordinarily low content of cyclic silicone oligomers. Thanks to a new production process, the emulsion’s content lies well below 0.1%. This means that shampoo and hair care formulations are now available with a particularly low content of cyclic compounds.

New Belsil PF 100 (INCI: Lauryl phenylisopropyl methicone) is described as a phenyl-modified, polyfunctional product. The colorless fluid, which is virtually free of cyclic silicone oligomers, was designed for use in hair care products and decorative cosmetics. Its refractive index of 1.464 is much higher than that of polydimethylsiloxanes and even higher again than that of conventional phenyl silicone fluids. As a result, Belsil PF 100 makes a highly effective gloss agent for the cosmetics sector.

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By virtue of its molecular structure, Belsil PF 100 is soluble in organic solvents and many plant-based oils. This gloss agent can be used to make oil-based transparent formulations in which there is a need to replace cyclopentasiloxanes by organic fluids.

Applications for the modified phenyl silicone fluid are myriad. They range from hair care and hairstyling products to lip balms and color cosmetics. The new phenyl silicone fluid imparts a high level of sheen to hair and leaves it feeling pleasantly soft to the touch and easier to comb, according to Wacker. When added to lip balms and decorative cosmetics, Belsil PF 100 enhances their gloss and color brilliance. In addition, the sheen of hair oils can be given a particularly high boost by combining Belsil PF 100 with a silicone elastomer gel, such as Belsil EG 6000.

The benefits of silicones in cosmetics and personal care products are manifold and address a wide range of customer requirements. Manufacturers are able to create striking effects with a silicone ingredient which, in fact, is a unique selling point and makes silicones so special. 



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