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Nail polish is a lacquer that can be applied to the human fingernails or toenails to decorate and protect the nail plates. The formulation has been revised repeatedly to enhance its decorative effects and to suppress cracking or flaking. Nail polish consists of an organic polymer with various additives.
Nail polish originated in China, and its use dates back to 3000 BC. Around 600 BC, during the Zhou dynasty, the royal house preferred the colours gold and silver. However, red and black eventually replaced these metallic colours as royal favourites. During the Ming dynasty, nail polish was often made from a mixture that included beeswax, egg whites, gelatine, vegetable dyes, and gum Arabic.
In Egypt, the lower classes wore pale colours, whereas high society painted their nails red.
By the turn of the ninth century, nails were tinted with scented red oils, and polished or buffed. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, people preferred a polished rather than a painted look by mixing tinted powders and creams into their nails, then buffing them until shiny. One type of polishing product sold around this time was Graf's Hyglo nail polish paste.
Nail polish consists of a film-forming polymer dissolved in a volatile organic solvent. Nitrocellulose that is dissolved in butyl acetate or ethyl acetate is common. This basic formulation is expanded to include the following:
Plasticizers to yield non-brittle films. Dibutylphthalate and camphor are typical plasticizers.
Dyes and pigments. Representative compounds include chromium oxide greens, chromium hydroxide, ferric ferrocyanide, stannic oxide, titanium dioxide, iron oxide, carmine, ultramarine, and manganese violet.
Opalescent pigments. The glittery/shimmer look in the colour can be conferred by mica, bismuth oxychloride, natural pearls, and aluminium powder.
Adhesive polymers ensure that the nitrocellulose adheres to the nail's surface. One modifier used is tosylamide-formaldehyde resin.
Thickening agents are added to maintain the sparkling particles in suspension while in the bottle. A typical thickener is stearalkonium hectorite.
Ultraviolet stabilizers resist colour changes when the dry film is exposed to sunlight. A typical stabilizer is benzophenone-1.
Traditionally, nail polish started in clear, red, pink, purple, and black. Since that time, many new colours and techniques have developed. This resulting in nail polish that can be found in an extremely diverse variety of colours and shades. Beyond solid colours, nail polish has also developed an array of other designs, such as crackled, speckled, iridescent, and holographic. Rhinestones or stickers are also often applied to nails or nail polish for decorative designs or techniques. Some types of polish are advertised to cause nail growth, make nails stronger, prevent nails from breaking, cracking and splitting, and to even stop nail biting. Nail polish may be applied as one of several components in a manicure or pedicure.
NAIL POLISH REMOVER
Nail polish can be removed with nail pads or nail polish remover. This is an organic solvent, but may also include oils, scents, and colouring. Nail polish remover packages may include individual felt pads soaked in remover. Some removers are a bottle of liquid remover that can be used with a cotton ball or cotton pad. Others can be containers filled with foam that can be used by inserting a finger into the container and twisting until the polish comes off. Choosing a type of remover is determined by the users preference and often the price or quality of the remover.
The most common type of nail polish remover contains the volatile organic compound acetone. It is powerful and effective, but can be harsh on skin and nails. It can also be used to remove artificial nails, which are usually made of acrylic and gel nails. A less harsh nail polish removal is ethyl acetate, the active ingredient in non-acetone nail polish removers, which also often contain isopropyl alcohol. Ethyl acetate is generally the solvent in nail polish itself.
Acetonitrile has been used as a nail polish remover, but it is toxic and potentially carcinogenic. It has been banned in the European Economic Area for use in cosmetics since 17 March 2000.
A more serious health risk is faced by professional nail technicians, who perform manicures over a workstation known as a "nail table," on which the client’s hands rest - directly below the technician's breathing zone. In 2009, Dr. Susan Reutman, an epidemiologist with the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Division of Applied Research and Technology, announced a federal effort to evaluate the effectiveness of downdraft vented nail tables (VNTs) in removing potential nail polish chemical and dust exposures from the technician's work area. These ventilation systems have potential to reduce worker exposure to chemicals by at least 50%. Many nail technicians will often wear masks to cover their mouth and nose from inhaling any of the harsh dust or chemicals from the nail products.
According to Reutman, a growing body of scientific literature suggests that some inhaled and absorbed organic solvents found in nail salons such as glycol ethers and carbon disulfide may be human reproductive toxicants. These are responsible for effects including birth defects, low birth weight, miscarriage, and preterm birth.
Nail polish is considered a hazardous waste by some regulatory bodies such as the Los Angeles Department of Public Works. Many countries have strict restrictions on sending nail polish by mail.
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