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The Role of Polymers and Surfactants in Nail Polish Formulation

Polymer 101

1. The two blog posts one from polymers and one from surfactants and the polymers and surfactants should be from the products that can be buy over supermarket. Instructions: You need to write two blog posts and focus on the role of polymers and/or surfactants in commercial products, i.e. something you can buy over the counter in a supermarket. Each blog post should focus on a different commercial product - do not write two blog posts on the same type of product.

2. You need to write each blog to be accessible to the general public, yet still contain enough detail and depth that it shows you have understood the science behind the content. The format: Never forget your audience is the general (but interested) public. Break up the text - give a liberal (light touch!) use of formatting and think about how the text will sit on the page.

Use bold typeface to indicate section headings (if you have them). Use a good image to illustrate the main point (but do not use images that are too generic). If you use an image, you must give the reference to where you took the image from. Every paragraph should contain a message. 3. Your first paragraph is critical - this needs to be short and snappy - it needs to draw the reader in as in the first 3-4 lines, the reader will decide if they want to carry on reading. 4. Pick one topic and stick to it. 5. Pick one topic and stick to it (this needs repeating as if you try to cover too much in one blog, you will lose focus and you will not be able to talk about anything in depth. 6. You need to explain the role of polymers and surfactants in a commercial products.

This will mean going into the literature to base your arguments. Give references please. This will probably mean 6-12 primary sources (i.e. peer-reviewed journal articles rather than random websites). Suitable topics: We have kept the topics very general to give you a chance to pick an area that is most of interest to you. We are looking for a discussion about polymers and/or surfactants in a commercial product. These might be paints, cosmetics, creams, foods, toothpaste, pain relief (e.g. Voltarol), consumer goods (e.g. detergents, softeners, waterproof coatings). The only restriction is that you should be able to buy them over the counter in a supermarket.


1. Is the post written to be accessible to a general public audience?

2. Overall coherence of argument Is the post formatted in an accessible manner?

Identification of role of relevant polymer/surfactant Understanding of the role in key component to function Explanation of mechanism of action of key formulation component Referencing (depth and formatting).

Polymer is a chemical compound made up of long, repeating chains of molecules.(1) Often times, plastics are described as polymers but in reality, all plastics are polymers but not all polymers are plastics. Plastic falls under a type of polymer called synthetic polymer which is man-made polymer. However, natural polymer also exists. Some of the examples of natural polymers are cellulose and starch in plants as well as proteins in our body. The longer a polymer chain is, it becomes more entangled with each other.(2) Thus, the harder it becomes to pull it out or to separate it like a bowl of dry, cooked spaghetti. This is the reason why polymers are strong, and hard to break. Polymers are used in a lot of different industries thanks to these properties and especially because they are inexpensive.

Nitrocellulose is one of the most important ingredients in the formulation of nail polish. In fact, a basic clear nail polish can be achieved just by using nitrocellulose with a volatile organic solvent.(3) A good polish would form a film when it is applied on the nail. In this formula, the solvent used are ethyl acetate, butyl acetate and propyl acetate. These solvents help the nail polish to flow well when it is applied on the nails. Once the acetate solvent evaporates, nitrocellulose forms a shiny film. Nitrocellulose is a plant-based compound formed by nitrating cellulose and it appears like a white cotton-like filament.(4) However, use of nitrocellulose alone is not enough as it is brittle and does not adheres well to nails. Therefore, use of resin is necessary.

Resin is the ingredient who is supposed to make the film adhere to the surface of the nails. In polymer chemistry, resin is defined as a solid or a highly viscous liquid that will harden under certain circumstances.(5) In this formula, tosylamide formaldehyde resin is used which is a polymer derived from the reaction of toluenesulfonamide and formaldehyde. In conjunction with the nitrocellulose, it helps to form tough, durable and long-lasting film. Besides that, it makes the nail polish to appear shinier as it adds gloss.

Dimethicone is a type of silicone. By definition, silicone is a polymer made up of repeating chains of siloxane which is a chain of alternating silicon atoms and oxygen atoms, often combined with carbon, hydrogen as well as other elements.(6) Silicone is often used in cosmetics and personal care products as it helps to achieve a smooth appearance of the products and improve their spreadability. In the formulation of nail polish, dimethicone is used as a drying agent as it speeds up the drying of nail polish. All of these ingredients are vital polymers necessary in order to perfect the formulation of nail polish. Not to mention the other ingredients such as plasticizers which is used to improve the flexibility of nail polish which makes it able to resist chipping and peeling.

On the other hand, there are two suspending agents in this formula which are stearalkonium bentonite and stearalkonium hectorite. These suspending agents are added to promote particle suspension in the solution. In other words, they are designed to help the colorants to distribute evenly in the formula. Each of the ingredients serves a purpose and play a specific role in nail polish formulation.

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