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Evonik to buy preservatives maker

Acquisition of Dr. Straetmans will add alternative preservatives to Evonik’s cosmetic ingredients portfolio

by Marc S. Reisch
March 16, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 12

Credit: Dr. Straetmans
Dr. Straetmans’s labs in Hamburg, Germany.

Evonik Industries has reached a deal to acquire Dr. Straetmans GmbH, a pioneer in the development of alternatives to traditional cosmetic preservatives.

The acquisition, to be completed by the end of June, will expand Evonik’s portfolio beyond emulsifiers, conditioners, and active ingredients to include nontraditional preservatives. Consumers are increasingly shunning traditional products, which include parabens, methylisothiazolinone, and imidazolidinyl urea, because of toxicity and skin sensitization concerns.

About 60 people will join Evonik when the deal is completed. Afterward, Dr. Straetmans’s Hamburg, Germany, site will become Evonik’s global competence center for preservatives.

Dr. Straetmans’s product line includes organic acids and cosmetic ingredients that offer both preservative and functional properties. The company acknowledges that the approach is “complex” because it involves adding larger amounts of surface active ingredients, which can compromise a cosmetic formulation if done incorrectly.

The firm also markets what it calls “noncriticized” traditional preservatives such as phenoxyethanol and benzoic acid in blends with synergists such as caprylyl glycol. The latter ingredient doubles as a skin conditioning agent.

“Our aim is to offer cosmetics manufacturers new solutions enabling them to distinguish themselves from the competition,” says Tammo Boinowitz, head of Evonik’s personal care business.

Other ingredient suppliers are also focusing on alternative preservatives. Clariant, for instance, developed the synergist sorbitan caprylate to boost the effect of traditional preservatives such as phenoxyethanol and benzyl alcohol. And Emerald Kalama Chemical is expanding output of the food preservative sodium benzoate in anticipation of increased demand from cosmetic makers.

Cosmetic formulators, fearing that restrictions on traditional preservatives will leave them without the tools they need to safeguard their products, are also seeking other options. For instance, the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council plans to launch a competition next month, backed by retailers and some preservative makers, for new cosmetic preservatives with prizes up to $25,000.

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