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The next generation of nail polishes: green products obtained from bio-based materials

Key words: Nail polishes, history of nail art, green UV nail polishes

Nail art has a long history, evolving over centuries in different parts of the world. The first mention of nail painting dates back to the Ancient Babylonians, who dyed their nails green and black to fear enemies. 200 years later, in Ancient China, women soaked their nails in a mixture of beeswax, gelatin and egg white that contained natural pigments from roses and orchids [1]. By 600 BC, the purpose of nail painting in Ancient China went beyond beauty: the color of the nails indicated a person's social rank. The highest rank wore silver and gold colors, the elite could use red and black, while common people were forbidden to paint their nails. In Ancient Egypt, Queen Nefertiti was the first to color her nail in red – the color symbolized her royal status.

Since that time, the development of nail art has never stopped. In the 1500s, the Incas embellished their nails with images of eagles. In 1878, Mary Cobb opened the first nail salon in the United States. In the 20th century, the titans of the nail industry were born – Cutex, Revlon, Essie, Chanel. Today, common nail polishes are mostly superseded by UV nail polishes, which have the last word in the field due to better properties and higher durability in comparison with common nail polishes – more than two weeks without peeling or chipping, shiny and glossy like the first day [1, 2].

Nowadays, beauty is still at the top of people’s priorities, although it stands in the line with health and sustainability. Therefore, it has become a trend to refuse from commonly used ingredients in favor of new ones, which are safer for living beings and the environment.

Nail polish industry is not an exception in this matter. The increased necessity of natural ingredients in beauty products has led nail polish industry to the creation of green or bio-based products.

Bio-based materials refer to products that mainly consist of a substance(s) derived from living matter (biomass) and either occur naturally or are synthesized, or it may refer to products made by processes that use biomass” [4].

Specialists working in this direction have already created green samples of UV nail polishes and conducted tests to compare the properties of conventional and new materials [4].

Figure 1. The comparison of ingredients in green and regular UV polishes [4,5]

According to the research, green nail polishes can be applied in a single layer (instead of three layers of regular UV nail polishes), and the properties of the coatings are consistent:

  • The tackiness of green nail polishes is eliminated after 60 seconds of UV irradiation, which is considerably better in comparison with regular UV polishes (sometimes tackiness elimination time reaches 180 seconds);

  • the hardness of green nail polishes is lower than that of regular ones;

  • the gloss of green products is 4 times higher than that of regular UV products: 88.8% instead of 20.6%, which means that no topcoat needs to be used to increase the gloss;

  • the odor of green products is less strong than that of regular UV nail polishes;

  • the removal of green products with solvents takes less time than that of regular UV products (10 minutes versus 15 minutes correspondingly);

  • the durability of green polishes is the same as that of a regular UV nail polishes within the accuracy of measurement [4].

The results obtained in the sample tests demonstrate the promising performance of the green nail polishes compared to conventional UV nail products. The beneficial qualities of the coating and the lack of negative effects on the environment and other living beings can help green products to compete with the top products in the nail industry.


[3] Photo by Ludmila Blagireva

[5] Couteau C., Paparis E., Coiffard L. Evaluation of Different Colorless Nail Polishes Used as Supportive Care in Patients with Cancer in Terms of Photoprotective Efficacy and Water Resistance. The journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology. 2018;11(11):20–24

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