MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: fingernail polish science fair

Date: Tue Nov 7 02:47:33 2000
Posted By: Werner Sieber, Research Scientist, Colors Division, Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp.
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 972928681.Ch

Hi Emily,
Formulations of products like nail polish are seldom found in books or 
other "open literature", but mainly in patents. The choice of ingredients, 
compared with other varnishes, is mainly limited by regulations concerning 
toxicology. The classic "film-forming polymer" in nail polish is 
nitrocellulose, which is of course derived from the natural polymer 
cellulose. Camphor makes the film flexible. A typical patent summary is 
reproduced here:

Colored nail polishes:
Kalopissis, Gregoire, Oreal S. A., France.
Patent  US 3849547        A    1974/ 11/ 19 

Nail   polish   vs lacquer consists of a soln. of nitrocellulose 
[9004-70-0] film former 12-15 parts, arenesulfonamide formaldehyde resin 6-13, 
plasticizer 5-8, coupler 1-15, diluent 12-32, sol. colored polymer 0.5-6 
wt. % (in which a dye is bonded to a polymer by an amide bond) and the 
remainder is solvent.

Thus, a colored (red) polymer is prepd. by treating Me vinyl ether-Bu 
maleate copolymer with the basic dye I. A transparent red polish   
comprises the red polymer 3, nitrocellulose 15, Santolite MHP [25035-71-6] 
7.5, camphor 2.5, diBu phthalate 5, acetone 5, EtOAc 15, BuOAc 25, BuOH 4 
and xylene 18 g.

("Me" stands for methyl, "Et" for Ethyl, "Bu" for butyl)

Modern nail polishes also contain acrylate/acrylic acid copolymers or 
polyester urethanes.

Best regards
Werner Sieber

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