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Monday, November 15, 2010

Nail Polish Suspension Agent

Links checked 12/12/13

Updated 4/26/12- Don't forget to check Suspension Base Suppliers & Notes for all possible sources.

I've talked before about the all-important suspension agent in commercial nail polish, stearalkonium hectorite and how we can't purchase it- and believe me, I've searched and tried. It's the lack of that ingredient that allows the pigment in frankens to settle quickly (and sometimes into an immobile mass), frankens that would otherwise be beautiful and used-often colors. I must admit that swatching multiple polishes becomes a daunting task when you know you will need to manually stir it up then shake the bottle until your arm aches.

I'm hardly alone here, TKB Trading's forum is full of frankeners asking many of the same questions I have so I'm sure everyone was thrilled to hear that they will soon begin selling a suspension agent but has not said what it is. In the meantime I've been looking for an alternative for months and found none, no suggestions, not even a hint that anything but stearalkonium hectorite is being used in commercial polish.

Each of the three companies, TKB Trading, Coastal Scents and The Conservatorie sell Magnesium Stearate as a cosmetic additive but only The Conservatorie includes this in the description: "It is used in cosmetics as an anti-caking agent, binding agent, dusting additive, emulsifying agent, gelling agent, thickening agent and in the suspension of pigments." I have emailed them this morning and asked if it would work for polish although I don't expect they will know the answer to that. If they do however, I'll be sure to post their response.

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  1. Hi! I just found your blog and I like to franken too, and I have some questions about TKB trading, if you don't mind?

    Have you tried magnesium sterate as a suspension and does it work? Do the glitters in their microfine glitter bleed? I've tried the holographic one and it doesn't, but I'm not too sure about the coloured ones....

    Sorry to be asking you so many questions, I'm from Singapore and I can't find glitters here that are cosmetic grade and don't bleed, I can't even get the little steel balls! So I'm forced to buy online and I want to make sure that I'm not going to waste money on bleeding glitters. Thank you so much!

  2. Cheryl, I have tried Magnesium Stearate as a suspension agent in polish and I'm sad to report, no it doesn't seem to work, not even when used in large amounts. My max amount was 11 drops (that's TKB's mini spoon) and it wouldn't keep glitter or pigment suspended. As far as TKB's glitter I only own blue and the holographic and neither bleed. Even though you didn't ask, most of my glitter is from Coastal Scents and they are ok but several of those- Crimson, Golden Fairy Dust, Jade and Black Magic and Fairy Dust bleed. Pinky glitter may bleed as well but I've never actually used it in polish. Ask any questions you've got, I'll always answer if I can. I buy 99% of my supplies on line, most times it is fine, sometimes better because buying in bulk drops the price when it comes to shipping.

  3. Thank you so much MK! I'll give a try on all the other tkb glitters and let you know if they bleed!

  4. Hello MK. Sorry to comment on such an old entry, but I searched around your blog and haven't found the answer I know if in your head. Have you found a suspension agent to fix the bottles you have already mixed, or will you be shaking until your arms fall off. I don't mind shaking shaking shaking, but some friends want to purchase frankens from me, and it just feels...weird...not professional that they have to shake those bottles til the cows come home. Also...sometimes if they are left a long time, there is no getting the massive blob mess off the bottm of the bottle. I have tried bb's and they HELP, but they don't solve the problem. And the TKB suspension base is too expensive for me to fill all my bottles...I was hoping for an additive I can add to the bottles so I can fix them. Or something that can be done in the future. Thanks for your help I love your blog!

    1. Ashley, old or new entry doesn’t matter, I’m notified of all comments. Thank you for the compliment and being a reader of my blog.

      I agree, it seems “less professional” to sell a franken without suspension which is why I’ve never entertained the thought- I saw no reason anyone would buy it if they had to shake it to death, particularly with all the frankens for sale recently (not to mention that its more fun to just give things away). Hubby says it wouldn’t matter but the lack of a “professional formula” bothers me.

      There is no special additive that I know of, suspension in nail polish is either attained with Stearalkonium Hectorite or Stearalkonium Bentonite and these aren’t available from retailers as a dry component. TKB’s suspension base is on the pricier side for mass production but if you’re going to sell them, not gift them, you raise the price to cover expenses. It can be mixed with a bit of clear polish without losing much suspension (depending on how much glitter/pigment you’re using) which can also cut down on expenses.

      The way to fix existing frankens is to drain off the old base and add suspension base to replace it. It’s not what you want to hear I know but that’s the only real solution. I know other bloggers have allowed clear polish to air out to thicken it up and used that to aide suspension but I personally wouldn’t recommend that because every time you use a polish, it’s exposed to air and thickens up, why give it a head start on being gloopy?

      Dislodge your blobs manually by stirring and then shake them up, less stress on the arm that way. I use an aluminum fence tie for that but anything stiff and skinny will work such as the inside of an ink pen, an orange stick, even a wooden skewer for vegetable kabobs. Like you couldn’t tell, I’m big on using things from around the house.

  5. Awesome! Thanks for the info! You are the best! Haha! My Fiance said the same thing...who cares if it but I do..something about it lol. Well I will get some of the suspension base from TKB and try out mixing it with a less expensive base coat. Hopefully I will find a happy medium! Thanks again! And Happy Frankening!

  6. Hey, thank you for your blog you have so much information it's amazing. I am also looking for a suspension agent that can help my frankening projects. I just love to create new beauties for me and my friends. The problem is that TKB no longer accomodates anything else than US Mainland, and I live in Hawaii =/

    Earlier I managed to get one small bottle of their Glamour Base though but I cannot make out the suspension agent in this product. I have also investigated about Stearalkonium Hectorite and it is nowhere to be found. The TKB Glamour Base though does not have this exact ingridients... I recognize that most of the ingridients are common in nail polish for example butyl acetate, ethyl acetate, nitrocellulose etc, but no suspension agents I recognize.

    Have you gotten further on this research? If so I would love some input, right now I am savoring the last drops I have of this base for my most appreciated glitters, but I just can't help but wonder what I could be making if I only knew what I could add to normal bases instead...

    1. The ingredient in TKB's Glamour Base is Stearalkonium Bentonite. Whatever I know, and not much is helpful, is located on my Suspension Base Notes page. Another good resource is Head to Foot's blog. She has done a lot of research on Aerosil and experimented with it. I've got a couple other things I'm considering but nothing worth reporting yet.

  7. Hi, have any of you tried using xanthun gum as a thickening agent in your polish? I will post a link to this Youtube video on what I found. Copy and paste the folling link b/c the link didn't work like it usually does:

    1. I've heard of it but not tried it. I think I remember reading somewhere that it didn't work.

  8. I just found this link for "Pre Neutralized Carbomer"... It looks like it's mostly used in soap making, but it says a variety of cosmetic uses. "Pre-Neutralized Carbomer PNC-400 is a pre-neutralized synthetic polymer that can be used as a thickener, suspending agent and stabilizer in most cosmetic formulations. The use of Pre-Neutralized Carbomers provide several advantages." Hope this Helps! I may try purchasing a little bit and experimenting. :)


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