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Nail polish (also known as nail varnish or nail enamel) is a lacquer that can be applied to the human fingernail or toenails to decorate and protect the nail plates. The formula has been revised repeatedly to enhance its decorative effects and to suppress cracking or peeling. Nail polish consists of a mix of an organic polymer and several other components that give it colors and textures. Nail polishes come in all shades of color and play a significant part in manicures or pedicures.
Nail polish originated in China and dates back to 3000 BCE. Around 600 BCE, during the Zhou dynasty, the royal house preferred the colors gold and silver. However, red and black eventually replaced these metallic colors as royal favorites. During the Ming dynasty, nail polish was often made from a mixture that included beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, vegetable dyes, and gum arabic.
In Egypt, the lower classes wore pale colors, whereas high society painted their nails reddish-brown, with henna. Mummified pharaohs also had their nails painted with henna.
In Europe, Frederick S. N. Douglas while traveling in Greece in 1810-12 noticed that the Greek women used to paint their nails “dingy pink”, which he understood as an ancient custom. Early nail polish formulas were created using basic ingredients such as lavender oil, carmine, oxide tin, and bergamot oil.[self-published source] It was more common to polish nails with tinted powders and creams, finishing off by buffing the nail until left shiny. One type of polishing product sold around this time was Graf’s Hyglo nail polish paste.
This type of nail polish is a clear, milky-colored, or opaque pink polish formula that is used specifically before applying nail polish to the nail. Its purpose is to strengthen nails, restore moisture to the nail, and help polish adhere to the nail. It prevents staining and extends the lifespan of the manicure. Some base coats are marketed as “ridge fillers”, and can create a smooth surface, de-emphasizing the ridges that can appear on unbuffed nails. Some base coats, called “peel off base coats”, allow the user to peel off their nail polish without using a remover.
This type of nail polish is a clear colored polish formula that is used specifically after applying nail polish to the nail. It forms a hardened barrier for the nail that can prevent chipping, scratching, and peeling. Many top coats are marketed as “quick-drying.” Topcoats can help the underlying colored polish dry quickly as well. It gives the polish a more finished and desired look and may help to keep the polish on longer.
Gel polish is a long-lasting variety of nail polish made up of a type of methacrylate polymer. It is painted on the nail similar to traditional nail polish but does not dry. Instead, it is cured under an ultraviolet lamp or ultraviolet LED. While regular nail polish formulas typically last two to seven days without chipping, gel polish can last as long as two weeks with proper application and home care. Gel polish can be more difficult to remove than regular nail polish. It is usually removed by soaking the nails in pure acetone (the solvent used in most nail polish removers) for five to fifteen minutes, depending on the formula.
Matte polish is like regular polish but has a purposely dull finish rather than a shine. It can be purchased as a regular base coat in a range of different colors. Matte nail polish can also be found in a topcoat. Matte top coat is most useful for painting over any dry base color, giving it a different appearance. The matte top coat polish will dull the shine from a regular base coat polish. Matte polish has become very popular through the years, particularly since it can be used in nail art applications, where designs can be created on the nail using the contrast of both shiny and matte surfaces.
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Traditionally, nail polish started in clear, white, red, pink, purple, and black. Nail polish can be found in a diverse variety of colors and shades. Beyond solid colors, nail polish has also developed an array of other designs, such as crackled, glitter, flake, speckled, iridescent, and holographic. Rhinestones or other decorative art are also often applied to nail polish. Some polish is advertised to induce nail growth, make nails stronger, prevent nails from breaking, cracking, or splitting, and even stop nail-biting.
French manicures are designed to resemble natural nails and are characterized by natural pink base nails with white tips. was one of the first popular and well-known color schemes. may have originated in the eighteenth century in Paris but were most popular in the 1920s and 1930s. However, the traditional French manicures were much different from what we know today. They were generally red while leaving around a crescent shape at the area near the cuticle blank to enhance the lunula of the nail, known now as a half-moon manicure.
With the modern French manicure, trends involve painting different colors for the tips of the nails instead of the white. French tip nails can be made with stickers and stencils. It is still typically done by hand through painting with polish or gel or sculptured with acrylic.
The health risks associated with nail polish are disputed. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “The amount of chemicals used in animal studies is probably a couple of hundred times higher than what you would be exposed to from using nail polish every week or so.
So the chances of any individual phthalate producing such harm [in humans] are very slim.” 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, Susan Reitman, 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 the 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 Reitman, 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 have adverse effects on reproductive health. These effects may include birth defects, low birth weight, miscarriage, and preterm birth.
Nail polish formulations may include ingredients that are toxic or affect other health problems. One controversial family of ingredient are phthalates, which are implicated as endocrine disruptors and linked to problems in the endocrine system and increased risk of diabetes. Manufacturers have been pressured by consumer groups to reduce or to eliminate potentially-toxic ingredients, and in September 2006, several companies agreed to phase out dibutyl phthalates. There are no universal consumer safety standards for nail polish, however, and while formaldehyde has been eliminated from some nail polish brands, others still use it.
Nail polish remover
Nail polish remover is an organic solvent that may also include oils, scents, and coloring. Nail polish remover packages may include individual felt pads soaked in remover, a bottle of liquid remover used with a cotton ball or cotton pad, or a container filled with foam into which one inserts a finger and twists it until the polish comes off. Choosing a type of remover is determined by the user’s preference, and often the price or quality of the remover.
The most common remover is acetone. Acetone can also remove artificial nails made of acrylic or cured gel.
An alternative nail polish remover is ethyl acetate, which often also contains isopropyl alcohol. Ethyl acetate is usually the original solvent for nail polish itself.
Acetonitrile has been used as a nail polish remover, but it is more toxic than the aforementioned options. It has been banned in the European Economic Area for use in cosmetics since 17 March 2000.
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