Nail Polish - Lycée Blaise Pascal Rouen

Nail Polish

, by C. Reymond, DORE

Nail polish is a cosmetic product which protects, conceals defect in the nail and makes it nicer. It’s used mainly by women and today, the trend of nail polish has been launched : it’s as important as jewelry or clothes for people who wants to be fashionable. We can find a lot of nail polish colors and many brands are on the cosmetic market as luxury brands. But in a traditional nail polish, there are many toxic chemical components because to make nail varnish you need plasticizer agents, solvents, film-forming agent and pigments.

The main chemical plasticizer agent which is used is dibutyl phthalate. It’s added to have more elasticity and for the nail polish not to peel off. And yet , dibutyl phthalate is a toxic product which is responsible for foetus malformations and miscarriages but the plasticizer agent quantities in flask are regulated by law.
Solvents like acetone, formaldehyde, toluene and ethyl are added to increase the smoothness and to have an easier application. When nail lacquer is applied, solvents evaporate and cause the smell along with hardening of the nail polish. There are poisoning risks only if you are in contact with a big quandtity of solvents like in manufactures; and yet it causes some effects on the nervous system, the blood (cancers), liver or kidney (cancers or kidneyl failure) and on fertility and pregnancy.
Film-forming agent is the component which form a film on the surface of nail polish and this film protects the nail against outside attack. The main film-forming agent is nitrocellulose but it’s a dangerous product because it’s flammable even if it’s dried. Therefore it must be diluted with a minimum thirty percent of isopropanal.
For colouring, there are natural pigments and chemical synthetic pigments. Some synthetic pigments are derived from aniline, a toxic oil product when it’s in pure condition.

An investigation made by the DGCCRF on two thousand shops in France has revealed that ten percent of nail polish and hardeners are outlaw because there was phthalate banned by the law and a formaldehyde (solvent) concentration over than the five percent allowed in it.
There are real dangers because these products can come through the nails and also be breathed in.

In contrast, new categories of nail polish have been invented like 3-free nail lacquers. This nail polish doesn’t contain the three main chemical components which can be bad for health : toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phtalate. Moreover, in 2001, a new nail polish with water was marketed : the « Suncoat ». It’s not constituted with toluene, formaldehyde, phtalate, acetone and its pigments are natural, without chemical synthetic colouring.

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