How does nail polish work?

What happens when we apply our favourite nail polish? You'll find out in this article!

Here at Manucurist, we like transparency and believe cosmetics should be easy to understand. That's why we share our blacklist of ingredients with you on our Philosophy page. It gives us the opportunity to explain what we have replaced these controversial ingredients with, and what they are used for in a nail polish formula.

But that's not a clear enough explanation of how a nail polish works. What is the difference between a regular Green nail polish and a Green Flash gel nail polish? And how does the Green nail polish remover fit into the picture? This article will help you see things more clearly!

Regular Green nail polish: a story of evaporation

First, let's look at what goes into a Green nail polish.

🌱 Solvents

Solvents are the largest component of the polish. They give it its uniform, liquid consistency. In Manucurist polish we use butyl acetate and ethyl acetate as our solvents, both of them bio-sourced (to find out more about bio-sourced ingredients, read our special article).

✨ Nitrocellulose

Nitrocellulose is what we call a filmogen agent: it creates a smooth, shiny film that dries rapidly.

💅 Resins

In our regular Green polish, you'll also find resins that help this film adhere to the nail.

💪 Plastifiers

As for plastifiers, they give the nitrocellulose film an elastic quality that improves staying power by making the polish less susceptible to splitting and chipping.

🎨 Pigments and bentonite

Our pigments and pearl effects (listed as CI followed by 5 digits) add colour and shimmer.
And bentonite is used to make the formula more liquid. It's what we call a thixotropic agent.

When you apply your regular polish, it's in liquid form. Once it's on the nail, the solvents evaporate, creating a shiny, solid, coloured film.

Green Flash gel nail polish and light

Our gel nail polish formula is very similar to our regular nail polish formula. However, it's a little bit more technical because the way it dries is different from how our Green nail polish dries.

Green Flash polish also contains oligomers: molecules that react with the UV light emitted by the lamp and bond to each other, forming a polymer network.

The result of this chemical reaction is a completely solid coat of nail polish. We say that the formula has been "cured" or "polymerised". Along with the solvent evaporation, this reaction helps the polish to dry quickly.

To find out more about Green Flash and its formula, check out our article Green Flash: why is it the real deal?

And how does the nail polish remover work?

Nail polish remover works by turning a solid coat of polish back to liquid to remove it.

In our Green nail polish remover, we use diethyl succinate to help liquify the polish.
In Green Flash nail polish remover, we use the same solvents you find in our polish: butyl acetate and ethyl acetate.

Any questions? DM us on Instagram and the Manucurist team will be happy to respond.

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