News from CRIS: Trending - Nail Polish

February 1, 2022

What is nail polish?

Nail polishes (also known as nail enamels or lacquers) are products used on nail beds primarily for aesthetic reasons. Nail polishes can include base coats, topcoats, nail hardness, polishes, and more. 
You can find nail polishes and nail products in nearly every color, many finishes (e.g., matte, glossy), and even scented. 
Adorning even dying nails (e.g., henna) is a practice going back to ancient times, while nail polish as we know it in the west is more of a modern invention with a market that continues to grow. Currently, 85%-90% of women worldwide use nail products (1).

Is nail polish regulated?

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates nail polish and nail polish ingredients as cosmetics. The FDA does not approve or test cosmetic products, including nail polish before they are available for sale (1).

Manufacturers are legally responsible for ensuring product safety when using the products as intended. If there is a safety issue, the FDA can and will test products and work with companies to issue recalls when necessary (1,2).

Nail products marketed as a treatment for nail ailments (e.g., treating fungus, etc.) are regulated and labeled as medications by the FDA because they can treat a medical condition (1). 

What types of nail polishes are on the market?

There are three main nail polishes: base coats, polish, and topcoats. 
Manufacturers design the base coat to even nail surfaces to provide an ideal base for pigmented polish. Pigmented polish is applied to the nail to achieve the desired look. We add a top coat to give the desired sheen (e.g., matte, glossy, etc.) and protect the pigments layer.

Some manufacturers design nail polishes as an all-in-one product rather than three separate products. 


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