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Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Good Polish Goes Bad

Links checked 12/12/13

I’ve been “frankening” nearly a year, have made 223 bottles and over that time there’ve been a few pigments that refuse to cooperate; instead of being a pretty polish it turns into a chemical disaster. So far this has happened to me 14 times or, 14 wasted bottles. I want to discuss which of the pigments do it and the reason why it happens. So you can see what I’ll be talking about, please refer to the pictures.
The uncooperative pigments I’ve come across so far are: CS’s Metallic Olivia and their Metallic Copper, TKB’s Crucible Gold, Crucible Red, Crucible Khaki (nearly identical to CS’s Metallic Olivia) and Forged Gold. I have used those pigments (separately) in different polish bases- clear polish, Wet ‘n’ Wild Steel, (part of their Precious Metals line), L.A. Girl Metallic Silver and Love My Nails Platinum, all with the same results, the gold color became greenish and the polish itself turned into a dry powdery looking substance that will never mix up again.
My picture shows two of those disasters. The open bottle is “Forged 24k Gold”, a combination of TKB’s Forged Gold (seen on the right) and CS’s 24 Karat Gold (not shown). The second bottle is “True Crucible K”, a combination of TKB’s True Yellow & Crucible Khaki. The thinking was that if I used another yellow to color the polish, I could then use less of the metallic pigment which I did but it still didn’t work. As you can imagine this irritated me more with every bad bottle.
I thought maybe I made a mistake and they weren’t approved for nail polish but I double checked and just like it says on the Metallic Olivia label, they were all “approved for use- eyes, lips, face, nails”.
I emailed first Coastal Scents and then TKB Trading when CS couldn’t help me but unfortunately TKB couldn’t explain it either so I’ve done my own research. I haven’t come up with a concise answer but I’ve found enough to support my theory which I’ll share with you.
I thought, based on the pigments’ names, that it was some reaction between the polish and the metallic element in the pigment so I compared the ingredients. What all these pigments have in common are Copper Powder or Bronze Powder which have the same CAS#, whatever that means and Silica or Silicon Dioxide which according to Wikipedia is pretty much the same thing. Since store bought nail polish has silica listed in its ingredients I turned my attention to the copper and bronze powders; logic dictates that if it isn’t one it must be the other.
Back in April I came across a company called Eckart who manufactures pigments including those for cosmetics. Among those is the Mirage line that Coastal Scents sells as well as another line called Visionaire® metallic pigments with copper and bronze colors that contain large amounts of copper and bronze. In a pdf file relating to these pigments (that I can’t seem to locate now) was a page titled, “Compatibility of metallic pigments – limitations” and on this page it said, “Visionaire® Copper / Bronze powder pigments: preferential use: water-free or silicone based systems, powder applications – not appropriate for nail polish or carbomer containing systems.
While I can’t find that particular link today, I did find this on Eckart’s Cosmetic FAQ page.
Can I use any ECKART effect pigment for nail varnish applications?
No, for nail varnish applications, the choice of effect pigments comprises the PRESTIGE® pearlescent pigment range, METALURE® Aluminum Pigment Dispersions and with some exceptions the VISIONAIRE® metallic pigment range. VISIONAIRE® copper effect pigments are not compatible with nail polish formulations, since the nitrocellulose will cross link in the presence of these pigments. The stability of VISIONAIRE® gold effect pigments depends on the formulation and the copper content of the respective pigment. Carmine containing pigments are not recommended for nail varnish, as the carmine may fade over time under light exposure.
Are VISIONAIRE® metallic effect pigments suitable for any kind of system?
No, VISIONAIRE® Bright Champagne and VISIONAIRE® Silver Sea should only be used in anhydrous systems due to their reactivity in contact with water. For VISIONAIRE® copper effect pigments, water-free systems are recommended as well as the addition of antioxidants especially in combination with vegetable oils.

I think the obvious conclusion is that the metallic pigments’ copper or bronze powder is reacting with the nail polish which for the record if you didn’t already know, is comprised of nitrocellulose dissolved in a solvent (and other things).
I have also recently contacted Eckart about this so perhaps they can explain it, will update this if the company responds.


  1. Another uncooperative pigment, at least for me, is Taurus Orion. It's texture changed into matte when applied to the nails.

  2. You will find the same to be true with Capricorn Seas, Libra Blues and Sagittaire which is unfortunate because they are beautiful colors.

    1. Thanks for posting this comment! I was about to order both Capricorn sea and Libra blues for polish but I highly dislike matte finishes. Are there any other uncooperative pigments you've found than the ones listed here? (Thanks again!)

    2. Uncooperative like matte or uncoooperative like the metallics?

    3. Matte in particular or just difficult to work with. I've heard various things about the ultramarines and the neons clumping or needing to be grinded with a coffee grinder first.

    4. Matte or easily clumping and thus a pain to work with. I was using Ultramarine pink and it clumps like crazy making it really difficult to work with as it takes over an hour of shaking the bottle to fix. I've also heard bad things about neon pigments? Any info would be helpful! (I also want to thank you for how awesome this blog is- I was completely floundering about originally and you've cleared up so much for me with all your information and links and lists. I really appreciate it!)


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