Sunday, June 26, 2011

Learned and Lacquered: UV Absorbers

I wouldn't be surprised if you all thought Learned and Lacquered had died somewhere along the way this June, but I never intended for the third part of the series to be so long in coming - I've just been, simply put, hella busy! Who knew that an unemployed teenager could be so busy during the summer months, eh? Anyway, though I have occasionally had a little time to whip up a post, I haven't had enough time to think about writing one of these until now. Fortunately, I am now relatively busy-free until I have to get ready to leave for Greece (fingers crossed) the last week of July. All of my personal matters aside, today's topic is a type of ingredient that I had no idea was so prevalent in polish until I started my research and squinty label-reading: UV absorbers.

This photo belongs to iquebalsun on deviantART
As I hope you all know, in addition to the rays that the sun emits in the visible light spectrum, it also emits ultraviolet rays, or UV rays. UV absorbers are used in many products to absorb ultraviolet rays, and are used to many different effects. However, I'm going to assume you only care about the nail polish, so let's move on to that. All of the top coats I have ingredient lists for (you can see the document here) contain at least one UV absorber, and so do at least half of the nail polish brands.

There are not that many different UV absorbers used in nail polish - the only ones I know of are Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-3, Benzophenone-4, and etocrylene. Those UV absorbers are used to protect polish from yellowing due to ultraviolet rays; however, I also wonder if they might have another use. UV absorbers are used in plastic to prevent the plastic from aging and becoming brittle due to ultraviolet rays - in fact, benzophenones are used for this purpose in PVC plastic. I'm inclined to think that benzophenones might also increase durability in nail polish, especially since nail polish contains plasticizers. This is just conjecture on my part, but I think it's an interesting possibility. If you know anything about it, please leave a comment.

Aaaand here's the recap:
  • UV absorbers are chemicals that absorb ultraviolet rays.
  • Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-3, Benzophenone-4, and etocrylene are UV absorbers used in nail polish.
  • UV absorbers help keep nail polish from yellowing and, possibly, increase the wear time of polish.

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