Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Does Crackle Polish Work?

China Glaze calls it crackle, OPI shatter and Herome graffiti. They all call it different, but they all do the same thing; crack when you apply it on top of another nail polish. Crackle polish was the trend of 2011. Some brands still come with new crackle polishes. YSL just came with their own crackles. I actually have had enough of the whole crackle trend, but I still wonder; how does a crackle polish work? And can you make your own crackle polish? I did some research the past few weeks and this is what I came with.
Before I continue to the whole science part I want to share that crackle polishes isn't just a special topcoat that is discovered and made these past years. No. Cover Girl was the first brand with crackle polishes, back in 1999. The collection of crackle CG came with wasn't a huge hit it supposed to be. In 2004 a lot of unknown brands came with their own crackle topcoat. At the end of 2010 more brands, this time the more known and popular nail polish brands, came with their own crackle polishes. Nowadays all brands you can think of have their own crackle polishes and it's not that special to get it anymore.
For the ones who are into painting you might recognize this crackle polish and compare it to distressing. Making a object or painting appear old using a special paint/varnish or a technique.
But who invented this special polish? Apparently the person who invented it did so by accident while trying to invent something else. Then tweaked the formula to be marketed as cracking nail polish. The patent is held under the title Nail Enamel Composition Having Decorative Appearance.

Lets look at the ingredients of a regular polish, and the ingredientlist of an crackle polish of the same brand.
China Glaze: Ethyl Acetate, Butyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Propyl Acetate, Tosylamide Formaldehyde Resin, Isopropyl Alcohol, Trimethyl Pentanyl Diisobutyrate, Triphenyl Phosphate, Ethyl Tosylamide, Camphor, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Diacetone Alcohol, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Benzophenone-1, Citric Acid, Kaolin, Dimethicone.
China Glaze Crackle : Ethyl Acetate, SD Alcohol – 40B, Adipic Acid/Neopentyl Glycol/Trimellitic Anhydride Copolymer, Silica, Butyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Isopropyl Alcohol, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate, Trimethyl Pentanyl Diisobutyrate, Ethyl Tosylamide, Kaolin.

When we look at the ingredientlist, you can see that some ingredients are the same, but the regular polish has other, just like the crackle one. Let me explain.
A regular polish is made out of film forming agents, resins or plasticizers, solvents and coloring agents. Crackle polish took some of the ingredients away, some film forming agents and plastisizers. But a crackle polish does have a few extra ingredients than just a regular polish to get that crackle effect. Ingredients just as alcohol, silica, sucroce acetate isobutrate and a mixture of adip acid, neopentyl glycol and trimellitic anhydride copolymer.
I made a list with the ingredients with their functions;
Film Forming Agents - Takes care of a layer and hardens the polish. Just as Tosylamide Formaldehyde Resin.
Resins or Plasticizers - Makes the polish flexible like plastic. Just as Tosylamide Formaldehyde Resin and Triphenyl Phosphate.
Solvents - Volatile substances, a solution that mix all other substances. Just as Diacetone Alcohol and Propyl Acetate.
Coloring agents - Gives the polish a color.

The extra ingredients of the crackle polish;
SD Alcohol - Makes the crackles in the polish by drying too fast and uneven.
Silica - Makes the polish thicker.
Sucroce Acetate Isobutrate - Gives the polish a plastic layer when it's dry.
Adip Acid, Neopentyl Glycol and Trimellitic Anhydride Copolymer - Also gives the polish a plastic layer when it's dry and hardens the polish.

A crackle polish crackles because of the added SD Alcohol and because it misses a few ingredients. But can you make your own crackle polish by just adding some alcohol? I don't think so.
I want to thank this source to help me with my research for this article.

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