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Air Products gets into beauty

Air Products and Chemicals added still another field to its diverse product lines Wednesday, when the company announced the launch of specialty chemicals for skin care, health care and cosmetics.

The Trexlertown gases and chemicals company will unveil a new line of polymers for cosmetics-makers next week at a New York-area trade show. The polymers are part of Air Products' performance materials division, which develops chemicals that enhance or improve the performance of other products.

 In the cosmetics world, the polymers might be used to make smoother-feeling gels and lotions, or hair gel that can be styled and restyled instead of sticking in place, officials said. Spokesman Rob Brown said Air Products sees a $3 billion market for specialty cosmetics ingredients.

Other Air Products' performance materials help the foam in office chairs and car seats stand up to wear and help protect auto paint from dents and scratches.

The company's new personal-care chemicals use technology licensed from Landec Corp., a California polymers company.

John Jones, Air Products' chief executive officer, has named performance materials as one of the company's focus growth areas. That division produced $570 million in sales last fiscal year, a number Jones wants to raise to $1 billion within five years.

Beyond performance materials, Air Products' wide-ranging product line includes home health equipment such as hospital beds; gases and equipment for industrial food chilling and freezing; liquid hydrogen used for space shuttle and rocket fuel; and oxygen-making systems designed especially for fish farms, to name a few items.

Air Products stock lost 88 cents per share Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, closing at $67.48 per share in light trading volume.