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Polished nails with nail art
Fingernails before, during, and after application of red nail polish
A woman's toes with dark nail polish

Nail polish (also known as nail varnish in British English or nail enamel) is a lacquer that can be applied to tát the human fingernail or toenails to tát decorate and protect the nail plates. The formula has been revised repeatedly to tát enhance its decorative properties, to tát be safer for the consumer to tát use, and to tát suppress cracking or peeling. Nail polish consists of a mix of an organic polymer and several other components that give it colors and textures.[1] Nail polishes come in all color shades and play a significant part in manicures and pedicures.

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Nail polish originated in Đài Loan Trung Quốc and dates back to tát 3000 BCE.[1][2] Around 600 BCE, during the Zhou dynasty, the royal house preferred the colors gold and silver.[1] However, red and Đen eventually replaced these metallic colors as royal favorites.[1] During the Ming dynasty, nail polish was often made from a mixture that included beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, vegetable dyes, and gum arabic.[1][2]

In Egypt, the lower classes wore pale colors, whereas high society painted their nails a reddish brown with henna.[3][4] Mummified pharaohs also had their nails painted with henna.[5]

In Europe, Frederick S. N. Douglas, while traveling in Greece in 1810–12, noticed that the Greek women used to tát paint their nails "dingy pink", which he understood as an ancient custom.[6] Early nail polish formulas were created using basic ingredients such as oải hương oil, carmine, oxide tin cẩn, and bergamot oil.[7][self-published source] It was more common to tát 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.[7][self-published source]


Nitrocellulose is a film-forming polymer that is the main ingredient in most nail polishes.

Modern nail polish consists predominately of a film-forming polymer dissolved in a volatile organic solvent. The most common polymer is nitrocellulose, although the more expensive cellulose acetates such as CAB are claimed to tát give better performance. In gel nail varnish, the polymer is usually some sort of acrylate copolymer. The solvents are commonly butyl acetate or ethyl acetate. Low levels of various additives are included to tát give the desired finish:[8]

  • Plasticizers to tát yield non-brittle films. diethylphthalate, dibutylphthalate and camphor are typical.
  • Dyes and pigments. Representative compounds include chromium oxide greens, chromium hydroxide, ferric ferrocyanide, stannic oxide, titanium dioxide, iron oxide, carmine, ultramarine, and manganese violet.[9]
  • Opalescent pigments. The glittery/shimmer look in the color can be conferred by mica, bismuth oxychloride, natural pearls, and aluminum powder.
  • Adhesive polymers ensure that the nitrocellulose adheres to tát the nail's surface. One modifier used is tosylamide-formaldehyde resin.[10]
  • Thickening agents are added to tát maintain the sparkling particles in suspension while in the bottle. A typical thickener is stearalkonium hectorite. Thickening agents exhibit thixotropy, their solutions are viscous when still but free-flowing when agitated. This duality is convenient for easily applying the freshly shaken mixture to tát give a film that quickly rigidifies.[11]
  • Ultraviolet stabilizers resist color changes when the dry film is exposed to tát sunlight. A typical stabilizer is benzophenone-1.


Base coat[edit]

The base coat is clear and is used to tát strengthen nails.

This type of nail polish is a clear, milky-colored, or opaque pink polish formula that is used specifically before applying nail polish to tát the nail.[12] Its function is to tát strengthen nails, restore moisture to tát the nail, and help polish adhere to tát the nail. It prevents staining and extends the lifespan of the manicure.[13] 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 tát peel off their nail polish without using a remover.

Top coat[edit]

This type of nail polish is a clear colored polish formula that is used specifically after applying nail polish to tát the nail. It forms a hardened barrier for the nail that can prevent chipping, scratching and peeling. Many topcoats 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 tát keep the polish on longer.[13]

Manganese violet is a typical pigment in nail polish.


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 tát 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 tát seven days without chipping, gel polish can last as long as two weeks with proper application and trang chủ care. Gel polish can be more difficult to tát remove kêu ca 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 tát fifteen minutes, depending on the formula.

In fashion[edit]

Traditionally, nail polish started in clear, white, red, pink, purple, and Đen. 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 tát nail polish. Some polish is advertised to tát induce nail growth, make nails stronger, prevent nails from breaking, cracking, or splitting, and even to tát stop nail biting.

French manicure[edit]

French manicures are designed to tát resemble natural nails, and are characterized by natural pink or nude base nails with white tips. French manicures were one of the first popular and well-known color schemes. French manicures 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 a round crescent shape at the area near the cuticle blank to tát enhance the lunula of the nail, known now as a half-moon manicure.[citation needed]

With the modern French manicure, trends involving 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.[citation needed]


At trang chủ nail polish collection in the U.S.

Social truyền thông media has given rise to tát a nail art culture that allows users to tát share pictures of their nail art. Women's Wear Daily reports nail polish sales hit a record US$768 million in the United States in 2012, a 32% gain over 2011.[14] Several new polishes and related products came on to tát the market in the second decade of the twenty-first century as part of the explosion of nail art, such as nail stickers (either made of nail polish or plastic), stencils, magnetic nail polish,[15] nail pens, glitter and sequin topcoats, nail caviar (micro beads), nail polish marketed for men, scented nail polish, and color changing nail polish (some which change hue when exposed to tát sunshine, and ranges which change hue in response to tát heat).[year needed]

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Western world[edit]

Men and women with painted nails at Wikimania, 2016

Nail polish in the Western world was more frequently worn by women, going in and out of acceptability depending upon moral customs of the day. In Victorian era culture it was generally considered improper for women to tát adorn themselves with either makeup or nail coloring, since natural appearances were considered more chaste and pure. In the 1920s, however, women began to tát wear color in new makeups and nail products, partly in rebellion to tát such prim customs of their recent past.[citation needed] Since the 1920s, nail colors progressed from French manicures and standard reds to tát various palettes of color choices, usually coordinated with the fashion industry's clothing colors for the season. By the 1940s the whole nail was painted; before that, it was fashionable to tát leave the tips and a half-moon on the nail bed bare.[citation needed]

It is less common for men to tát wear nail polish, and can be seen as a divergence from traditional gender norms.[16] Uses include clear polish to tát protect nails from breakage or impart a well-groomed sheen, and colored polish on fingernails and toenails.[17] Professional baseball players, especially catchers, may wear nail polish on the field.[18]


There are 17 principal nail polish finishes:[19][self-published source]

  • Shimmer
  • Micro-shimmer
  • Micro-glitter
  • Glitter
  • Frost
  • Lustre
  • Creme
  • Iridescent
  • Opalescent
  • Matte (a formula of nail polish, or a topper placed on top of a coat of normal nail polish, that has a matte finish when dried)
  • Duochrome[20]
  • Jelly or translucent (clear nailpolish with a tint, usually a natural or neon colour)
  • Magnetic (nail polish with metallic particles that react to tát specially shaped magnets for nail art)
  • Crackled (a topper placed on a coat of nail polish, which crackles on top of said coat)
  • Glass-flecked
  • Holographic (glitter nail polish that reflects all colours when light is shone on them)
  • Prismatic micro-glitter or shimmer

Nail polish remover[edit]

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 cốt tông ball or cốt tông pad, or a foam-filled container into which one inserts a finger and twists it until the polish comes off. The choice of remover type depends on 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 kêu ca the aforementioned options. It has been banned in the European Economic Area for use in cosmetics since 17 March 2000.[21]

Health concerns[edit]

The safety of nail polish was examined in the fall năm trước issue of Ms. magazine.

The health risks associated with nail polish are disputed. According to tát 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 kêu ca what you would be exposed to tát from using nail polish every week or sánh. So the chances of any individual phthalate producing such harm [in humans] is very slim."[22] 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 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 tát evaluate the effectiveness of downdraft vented nail tables (VNTs) in removing potential nail polish chemical and dust exposures from the technician's work area.[23] These ventilation systems have potential to tát reduce worker exposure to tát chemicals by at least 50%.[24] Many nail technicians will often wear masks to tát cover their mouth and nose from inhaling any of the harsh dust or chemicals from the nail products.

According to tát Reutman, a growing body toàn thân 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 including birth defects, low birth weight, miscarriage, and preterm birth.[23]

Nail polish formulations may include ingredients that are toxic or affect other health problems. One controversial family of ingredient are phthalates,[11] which are implicated as endocrine disruptors and linked to tát problems in the endocrine system and increased risk of diabetes. Manufacturers have been pressured by consumer groups to tát reduce or to tát eliminate potentially-toxic ingredients,[25] and in September 2006, several companies agreed to tát phase out dibutyl phthalates.[26][27] 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.[28]

Regulation and environmental concerns[edit]

The U.S. thành phố of San Francisco enacted a thành phố ordinance, publicly identifying establishments that use nail polishes không lấy phí of the "toxic trio" of dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde.[29]

Nail polish is considered a hazardous waste by some regulatory bodies such as the Los Angeles Department of Public Works.[30] Many countries have strict restrictions on sending nail polish by mail.[31][32] The "toxic trio" are currently being phased out, but there are still components of nail polish that could cause environmental concern. Leaking out of the bottle into the soil could cause contamination in ground water.[33][34] Chromium(III) oxide green and Prussian xanh rì are common in nail polish and have shown evidence of going through chemical degradation, which could have a detrimental effect on health.[citation needed]

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  1. ^ a b c d e Toedt, John; Koza, Darrell; Cleef-Toedt, Kathleen cầu xin (2005). Chemical Composition Of Everyday Products. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-313-32579-3.
  2. ^ a b Sherrow, Victoria (2001). For appearance' sake: The historical encyclopedia of good looks, beauty, and grooming. Phoenix: Oryx Press. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-57356-204-1.
  3. ^ Draelos, Zoe Diana (2011). Cosmetic Dermatology: Products and Procedures. John Wiley & Sons. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-4443-5951-0.
  4. ^ Alpert, Arlene; Altenburg, Margrit & Bailey, Diane (2002). Milady's Standard Cosmetology. Cengage Learning. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-56253-879-8.
  5. ^ Shah, Shikha (17 January 2014). "History of nail polish". The Times of India. ProQuest 1477854392.
  6. ^ Douglas Frederick Sylvester North (1813), An essay on certain points or resemblance between the ancient and modern Greeks, p. 163
  7. ^ a b "On How to tát Be Lovely". Edwardian Promenade. 2010-04-15. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  8. ^ Schneider, Günther; Gohla, Sven; Schreiber, Jörg; Kaden, Waltraud; Schönrock, Uwe; Schmidt‐Lewerkühne, Hartmut; Kuschel, Annegret; Petsitis, Xenia; Pape. "Skin Cosmetics". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. doi:10.1002/14356007.a24_219.
  9. ^ Toedt, John; Koza, Darrell; Cleef-Toedt, Kathleen cầu xin (2005). Chemical Composition Of Everyday Products. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-313-32579-3.
  10. ^ Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin. cosmeticsinfo.org
  11. ^ a b Cunningham, J. (2013) "Color cosmetics" in Chemistry and Technology of the Cosmetics and Toiletries Industry. D. F. Williams and W. H. Schmitt (eds.). Springer. ISBN 978-94-010-7194-9
  12. ^ Molina, Christina (31 March 2014). "How to tát Actually Remove Glitter Nail Polish for Good". Elle.com. Hearst Communications, Inc. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  13. ^ a b "The One Step You Should NEVER Skip in Your Mani". Good Housekeeping. 2015-09-21. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  14. ^ Sun, Feifei (2013-01-28). "Nail Polish Sales Hit Record $768 Million in U.S." Time. Retrieved 2013-12-06.
  15. ^ Romanowski, Shannon (29 February 2012). "The Science Behind Magnetic Nail Polish". Self.com. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  16. ^ Edwards, Nelta M. (October 2010). "Using Nail Polish to tát Teach about Gender and Homophobia". Teaching Sociology. 38 (4): 362–372. doi:10.1177/0092055X10378821. S2CID 143960053.
  17. ^ "Manly Manicures End in Color". The Thành Phố New York Times. 2013-06-12. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  18. ^ Graff, Jesse (10 October 2017). "Everything We Know about Baseball Manicures and Nail Polish". Mel Magazine. Retrieved 2021-04-06.
  19. ^ Mismas, Michelle. "Can you describe the different types of nail polish finishes?". AllLacqueredUp.com. All Lacquered Up. Archived from the original on 2021-03-04. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  20. ^ Emma Carlson Berne Nail Care Tips & Tricks năm ngoái - Page 13 1467786551 "Chrome. Many polishes give off a metallic sheen. Duochrome or multichrome polish contains several colors. The colors flash differently, depending on the reflection of the light. Iridescent polish is a softer version of duochrome."
  21. ^ Twenty-Fifth Commission Directive 2000/11/EC of 10 March 2000 adapting to tát technical progress Annex II to tát Council Directive 76/768/EEC on the approximation of laws of the Member States relating to tát cosmetic products. OJEC L65 of 14 March 2000, pp. 22–25.
  22. ^ Bender, Michele (2004). "Nail polish gets a healthy makeover". Health. 18 (10): 34.
  23. ^ a b Reutman, Susan (3 March 2009). "Nail Salon Table Evaluation". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Science Blog. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  24. ^ Marlow, David A.; Looney, Timothy; Reutman, Susan (September 2012). "An Evaluation of Local Exhaust Ventilation Systems for Controlling Hazardous Exposures in Nail Salons (EPHB Report No. 005-164)" (PDF). Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  25. ^ "Dangers of Nail Polish – Toxic Chemicals in your nail polish". TorquayHeraldExpress.co.uk. Local World, Ltd. 1 April năm trước. Archived from the original on 5 April 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014. With inviting names such as peaches and cream or Caramel Smoothie, you are led away from the potential dangers of these polishes, with some ingredients that are known cancer-causing chemicals and those toxic to tát the nervous system. The top three chemicals of concern are toluene, dibutyl phthalate (dbp) and formaldehyde – the so-called 'toxic trio'.
  26. ^ Singer, Natasha (7 September 2006). "Nail Polish Makers Yield on Disputed Chemical". The Thành Phố New York Times.
  27. ^ Phthalate chemicals in nail polish, hair sprays tied to tát raised diabetes risk in women. CBS News (2012-07-16). Retrieved on 2015-11-22.
  28. ^ Simon, Pitman (30 August 2006). "Nail Polish manufacturers remove potentially harmful chemicals". Cosmetic Design USA. William Reed Business Media.
  29. ^ Brown, Patricia Leigh (10 November 2010). "At Some Nail Salons, Feeling Pretty and Green". The Thành Phố New York Times.
  30. ^ "What is Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)?". County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  31. ^ "Restricted goods – personal customers: Things we can carry in UK post but with restrictions". Royal Mail. Retrieved 2013-12-06.
  32. ^ "Restricted and Hazardous Materials". US Postal Service. Retrieved 2013-12-06.
  33. ^ "STOP: Why You Shouldn't Throw Old Nail Polish In The Trash". 2016-07-31. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  34. ^ "Nail Care Products". fda.gov. Food and Drug Administration. 3 March 2022.

Further reading[edit]

  • Charles Panati, Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, Harper & Row, 1987

External links[edit]

  • Nail salons: How to tát be safe at work – Oregon OSHA
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Nail Salons Project