Nail polish which is also called nail varnish or nail enamel in some quarters is a lacquer that can be applied to the human fingernail or toenails to decorate and protect the nail plates. Loads of people most especially the female folk apply nail polish.
Nail polish consists of a mix of an organic polymer and several other components that give it its unique color and texture but over the years, the formula that is used in the manufacturing of nail polish has been revised repeatedly to enhance its decorative effects and to suppress cracking or peeling.
There are different types of nail polishes and they come in all shades of color. Here are some of the well – known nail polish;
This type of nail polish is a clear, milky – colored, or opaque pink polish formula that is used specifically before applying nail polish to the nail. Its purpose is to strengthen nails, restore moisture to the nail, and help polish adhere to the nail. It prevents staining and extends the lifespan of the manicure. Some base coats are marketed as “ridge fillers”, and can create a smooth surface, de – emphasizing the ridges that can appear on unbuffed nails. Some base coats, called “peel off base coats”, allow the user to peel off their nail polish without using a remover.
Top coat is a clear colored polish formula that is used specifically after applying nail polish to the nail. It forms a hardened barrier for the nail that can prevent chipping, scratching and peeling. Many topcoats are marketed as “quick – drying.” Topcoats can help the underlying colored polish dry quickly as well. It gives the polish a more finished and desired look and may help to keep the polish on longer.
Gel polish is a long – lasting variety of nail polish made up of a type of methacrylate polymer. It is painted on the nail similar to traditional nail polish, but does not dry. Instead it is cured under an ultraviolet lamp or ultraviolet LED. While regular nail polish formulas typically last two to seven days without chipping, gel polish can last as long as two weeks with proper application and home care. Gel polish can be more difficult to remove than regular nail polish. It is usually removed by soaking the nails in pure acetone (the solvent used in most nail polish removers) for five to fifteen minutes, depending on the formula.
Matte polish is like regular polish, but has a purposely dull finish rather than a shine. It can be purchased as a regular base coat in ranges of different colors. Matte nail polish can also be found in a topcoat. Matte topcoat is most useful for painting over any dry base color, giving it a different appearance. The matte topcoat polish will dull the shine from a regular base coat polish. Matte polish has become very popular through the years, particularly since it can be used in nail art applications, where designs can be created on the nail using the contrast of both shiny and matte surfaces.
Nail polish is a “suspension” product, in which particles of color can only be held by the solvent for a relatively short period of time, rarely more than two or three years. Shaking a bottle of nail polish before use helps to restore settled particles to the suspension; a very old bottle of nail polish may have so much settled pigment that it can never be restored to the solvent.
If you make use of nail polish and you are wondering how it is made, then you are reading the right article. Here is the process that produces nail polish;
Table of Content
Formula and The Needed Raw Materials
It is important to note that there is no single formula for nail polish. There are, however, a number of ingredient types that are used. These basic components include: film forming agents, resins and plasticizers, solvents, and coloring agents. The exact formulation of a nail polish, apart from being a corporate secret, greatly depends upon choices made by chemists and chemical engineers in the research and development phase of manufacturing. Additionally, as chemicals and other ingredients become accepted or discredited for some uses, adjustments are made. For example, formaldehyde was once frequently used in polish production, but now it is rarely used.
Nitrocellulose is a liquid mixed with tiny, near – microscopic cotton fibers. Across board, the primary ingredient in nail polish is nitrocellulose (cellulose nitrate) cotton, a flammable and explosive ingredient also used in making dynamite. In the manufacturing process, the cotton fibers are ground even smaller and do not need to be removed. The nitrocellulose can be purchased in various viscosities to match the desired viscosity of the final product.
In nail polish making, Nitrocellulose acts as a film forming agent. For nail polish to work properly, a hard film must form on the exposed surface of the nail, but it cannot form so quickly that it prevents the material underneath from drying. (Consider commercial puddings or gelatin products that dry or film on an exposed surface and protect the moist product underneath.) By itself or used with other functional ingredients, the nitrocellulose film is brittle and adheres poorly to nails.
Synthetic Resins and Plasticizers
In the process, manufacturers add synthetic resins and plasticizers (and occasionally similar, natural products) to their mixes to improve flexibility, resistance to soap and water, and other qualities; older recipes sometimes even used nylon for this purpose. However, there is no single resin or combination of resins that meets every specification. Among the resins and plasticizers in use today are castor oil, amyl and butyl stearate, and mixes of glycerol, fatty acids, and acetic acids.
Coloring (Dyes and Pigments)
The colorings and other components of nail polish must be contained within one or more solvents that hold the colorings and other materials until the polish is applied. After application, the solvent must be able to evaporate. In many cases, the solvent also acts a plasticizer. Butyl stearate and acetate compounds are perhaps the most common. The polish must have a color. Early polishes used soluble dyes, but today’s product contains pigments of one type or another. Choice of pigment and its ability to mix well with the solvent and other ingredients is essential to producing a good quality product.
In addition to usual coloring pigments, other color tones can be added depending upon the color, tone, and hue of the desired product. Micas (tiny reflective minerals), also used in lipsticks, are a common additive, as is “pearl” or “fish scale” essence. “Pearl” or “guanine” is literally made from small fish scales and skin, suitably cleaned, and mixed with solvents such as castor oil and butyl acetate. The guanine can also be mixed with gold, silver, and bronze tones.
Please note that when it comes to nail polish, pigment choices are restricted by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which maintains lists of pigments considered acceptable and others that are dangerous and cannot be used. Manufacturing plants are inspected regularly, and manufacturers must be able to prove they are using only FDA approved pigments. Since the FDA lists of acceptable and unacceptable pigments change with new findings and reexaminations of colors, manufacturers occasionally have to reformulate a polish formula.
Adhesive polymers ensure that the nitrocellulose adheres to the nail’s surface. One modifier used is tosylamide – formaldehyde resin.
Thickening agents are added to maintain the sparkling particles in suspension while in the bottle. A typical thickener is stearalkonium hectorite. Thickening agents exhibit thixotropy, their solutions are viscous when still but free – flowing when agitated. This duality is convenient for easily applying the freshly shaken mixture to give a film that quickly rigidifies.
Ultraviolet stabilizers resist color changes when the dry film is exposed to sunlight. A typical stabilizer is benzophenone – 1.
The Manufacturing Process of Nail Polish
Early methods of making nail polish used a variety of methods that today look charmingly amateurish. One common technique was to mix cleaned scraps of movie film and other cellulose with alcohol and castor oil and leave the mixture to soak overnight in a covered container. The mixture was then strained, colored, and perfumed. Though recognizable as nail polish, the product was far from what we have available today.
The modern manufacturing process is a very sophisticated operation utilizing highly skilled workers, advanced machinery, and even robotics. Today’s consumers expect a nail polish to apply smoothly, evenly, and easily; to set relatively quickly; and to be resistant to chipping and peeling. In addition, the polish should be dermatologically innocuous.
Mixing the Pigment with Nitrocellulose and Plasticizer
The pigments are mixed with nitrocellulose and plasticizer using a “two – roll” differential speed mill. This mill grinds the pigment between a pair of rollers that are able to work with increasing speed as the pigment is ground down. The goal is to produce fine dispersion of the color. A variation of this mill is the Banbury Mixer (used also in the production of rubber for rubber bands).
When properly and fully milled, the mixture is removed from the mill in sheet form and then broken up into small chips for mixing with the solvent. The mixing is performed in stainless steel kettles that can hold anywhere from 5 to 2,000 gallons. Stainless steel must be used because the nitrocellulose is extremely reactive in the presence of iron. The kettles are jacketed so that the mixture can be cooled by circulating cold water or another liquid around the outside of the kettle. The temperature of the kettle, and the rate of cooling, are controlled by both computers and technicians.
This step is performed in a special room or area designed to control the hazards of fire and explosion. Most modern factories perform this step in an area with walls that will close in if an alarm sounds and, in the event of explosion, with ceilings that will safely blow off without endangering the rest of the structure.
Adding Other Ingredients
Materials are mixed in computerized, closed kettles. At the end of the process, the mix is cooled slightly before the addition of such other materials as perfumes and moisturizers.
The mixture is then pumped into smaller, 55 gallon drums, and then trucked to a production line. The finished nail polish is pumped into explosion proof pumps, and then into smaller bottles suitable for the retail market.
Quality control is the final stage in the making of nail polish and it is enforced throughout the manufacturing process. Not only does quality control increase safety in the process, but it is the only way that a manufacturer can be assured of consumer confidence and loyalty. A single bottle of poor quality polish can lose a customer forever. Regardless of quality control, however, no single nail polish is perfect; the polish always represents a chemical compromise between what is desired and what the manufacturer is able to produce.
In a standard nail polish making factory, the nail polish is tested throughout the manufacturing process for several important factors (drying time, smoothness of flow, gloss, hardness, color, abrasion resistance, etc.). Subjective testing, where the mixture or final product is examined or applied, is ongoing. Objective, laboratory testing of samples, though more time consuming, is also necessary to ensure a usable product. Laboratory tests are both complicated and unforgiving, but no manufacturer would do without them.
Nail polish formulations may include ingredients that are toxic or give other health problems. One controversial family of ingredient are phthalates, which are implicated as endocrine disruptors and linked to problems in the endocrine system and increased risk of diabetes. Manufacturers have been pressured by consumer groups to reduce or to eliminate potentially – toxic ingredients, and in September 2006, several companies agreed to phase out dibutyl phthalates. There are no universal consumer safety standards for nail polish, however, and while formaldehyde has been eliminated from some nail polish brands, others still use it
It is worthy to mention that of all the different types of cosmetics, nail polish is the one that is most likely to continue to be positively affected by advancements and developments in the chemistry field. Going forward, the various methods of producing fast – drying polish have recently been patented, and these methods, along with others that are still being developed, may result in the production of products that will flood the global market pretty soon.