Nail polish is a liquid, pigmented cosmetic product that is applied to the fingernails and toenails for decorative purposes. It is usually clear, but it can be made in a variety of colors. It is composed of a polymer, pigments, resins and plasticizers, along with other ingredients that give it color and texture. The exact composition of nail polish is a trade secret, and it is subject to change as chemicals are rejected or accepted for use, and as new formulations are created.
Nitrocellulose is a film-forming polymer that is the main ingredient in most nail polishes. It gives nail polish its sheen and resistance to chipping or cracking. Other film-forming and adhesive polymers include butyl acetate, ethyl acetate, and methyl cellulose. Resins give polish depth and gloss, and they help it adhere to the nail. They can be natural, such as carnauba wax or canola oil, or synthetic, such as tosylamide-formaldehyde resin or urea. Plasticizers keep the resin flexible and reduce the risk that it will crack or chip once dry, and they can be natural or synthetic. Camphor is a common plasticizer, and trimethyl pentanyl diisobutyrate, triphenyl phosphate, and ethyl tosylamide are other potential plasticizers.
Pigments give polish its color, and they can be natural or synthetic. Colorants are typically mixed with a solvent to help them blend, and they must be able to mix well with other polish ingredients. They are also often formulated to be resistant to fading in the sun. Manufacturers also add thickening agents, such as stearalkonium hectorite and stearalkonium bentonite, to adjust the viscosity of the polish, and they often add glitters and other particles to create a range of textures and effects. They may also add UV stabilizers, such as benzophenone-1, to prevent the polish from fading or turning yellow when exposed to sunlight.
Solvents keep the colorings and other polish materials dissolved until they are needed, and the most commonly used solvents in nail polish are butyl acetate and ethyl acetate. They can also contain volatile organic compounds such as toluene, which is considered toxic through inhalation, and formaldehyde resin or urea, which are known carcinogens. In addition to these ingredients, some nail polishes contain plasticizers, such as tetramethyl pentanyl diisobutyrate and camphor, that keep the polish flexible once it is dried.
The first recorded use of nail polish was in ancient China, where a mixture of beeswax and gelatin dyed with orchids or roses was rubbed on the nails to give them a bright red or black color. The queen of France in the 17th century was another early fan, and her crimson nails were a symbol of her power and wealth.
Today, nail polish is a multibillion-dollar industry and it has never been more popular than now. It is worn by celebrities, businesswomen, and women in all walks of life to show off their personal style or simply to pamper themselves. In the past, nail polish was a mark of counterculture, with Kurt Cobain, Iggy Pop, and Marc Bolan sporting shiny black polish with their leather outfits. Vernis à Ongles