today I have a very different blog posting for you, there will not be any pretty nail polishes or swatches found in this post.
I hope some of you will find it interesting anyways. I will talk about something everyone who has tried frankening before has experienced. There is quite a hype going on recently about custom blended nail polishes and all these beautiful indie brands mixing glitters into nail polishes and creating the most amazing colour combinations. No wonder people start thinking:
Hey, I’ll just do this myself. I’ll buy these really cheap glitters from Asia on Ebay, throw them in some clear nail polish and tadaaa – make my own “Glittering Crowd” dupe.
In case you haven’t tried that yet, feel free to do so. Or trust me saying: This doesn’t work at all. Your creation might look beautiful at first, but usually after less than ten minutes it will turn into a mess. The cheap glitters bleed out, melt, and give their colour to the base. But this is not the only problem. Also, the glitter particles will all sink to the bottom and sometimes even sediment there into one chunky mess of cheap asian glitter. Hit the “more” button if you are ready for a looong posting about this issue!
While the problem with bleeding and melting glitters is solvable by just buying more expensive, high quality polyester and/or acrylic glitters and praying they will behave well in nail polish, you will still be stuck with the fact that normal clear nail polish isn’t thick enough to suspend the glitters and hold them up nicely.
Some people don’t mind shaking their own glitter polish creations up every time before use, but for me, this isn’t enough. I want to be able to look at my glitter bomb in the bottle whenever I want, with the glitters and pigments nicely distributed throughout the bottle.
Googleing basically gives you two solutions for this:
1. Use a nail polish that already has some glitter suspended in it, and just add your own.
Meh. This might already be a great help for lots of people, but I really want to start from scratch. I mean, if you’re an artist you also want to start with an empty, white canvas instead of finishing somebody elses painting, right?
2. Buy a suspension base especially made for glitter frankens
Yep, there is such a thing, it is called “Glamour Base” and it is basically a really thick, slightly milky frankenpolish base that holds up glitter and pigment. The problem for everybody outside the USA is: They won’t deliver it to you. If I’d be living in the USA, I’d definitely buy this base instead of desperately trying to mix my own. You can get 30 ml for 5.50 $, and you can even dilute it with some clear polish base and it will still work. I think this is what all the famous frankeners use by the way, but I’m not sure :)
Both solutions don’t work for me, so I started to look up what it actually is that is used in nail polish to give it the structure it needs to hold glitters and pigments up. I mean, all it really has to do is make the clear nail polish base thicker.
I found videos on youtube talking about putting Xanthan Gum into nail polish to make it thicker. One uses it to turn thin nail polishes into stamping polishes, the other one uses it for making a glitter polish. Xanthan Gum is basically a gelling agent which is also used in cooking to make sauces or other liquids thicker.
I ordered a small amount at my local pharmacy. At that time I didn’t know there was a difference between normal Xanthan Gum and transparent Xanthan Gum so I guess I got the normal one – it turned my clear nail polish into a milky mess. The funniest part is that the glitters still sedimented so it didn’t work at all. Even after throwing lots and lots of the white pulver into the bottle, it didn’t get any better. I might try the transparent Xanthan Gum some time, because I think it might actually work. The problem is that I don’t know what this actually does to nail polish – professional nail polishes never contain Xanthan Gum so I doubt that this is the best ingredient to use.
After some more research I found out that there are several other gelling agents used especially for giving cosmetic products a nice structure. The most important feature I was looking for was that they produce a clear gel, because obviously I wanted the clear nail polish base to stay that way.
This gelling agent is used to make transparent hair gels and eye gels, and it basically just sucks up water and builds up a nice clear gel. I thought that this might actually work in nail polish so I bought a small amount in a shop that sells raw materials for cosmetics, but I’m pretty sure it can also be ordered in pharmacies.
Throwing the white pulver into a clear nail polish didn’t work. I had the feeling that it doesn’t go well with some of the nail polish ingredients (especially solvents). There was some clotting going on and it also gave the polish base a milky look. It didn’t help to suspend the glitter either.
Then I thought that the solution might be to turn Carbomer into a clear gel first and then add it to nail polish. Since I have no clue about chemistry, I made a gel with the white powder and some water and then threw the “water gel” into the nail polish. Water and nail polish don’t go together well so it looked really strange. The only good thing was, that the glitter stayed suspended after this! Lol! But this is not an option since water has no place in nail polish.
There are many more gelling agents, but it would go beyond the scope of this blog and my knowledge to talk about all of them. And besides that, I might have found something that actually works :)
Aerosil (Silicium Dioxide or Fumed Silica)
During my research I came across a document which seems to be a patent that investigated the use of Aerosil as a suspension agent and why it is so much better than stearalkonium hectorite (because it leaves the nail polish base absolutely clear). Stearalkonium hectorite is an ingredient that for example the lovely frankener MK from Polish and Pigments found out to be responsible for suspending pigments and glitters, but it is not available for private persons at all.
Also, the website of Aerosil says:
“In nail polish AEROSIL® fumed silica improves the distribution of nail polish pigments and prevents them for settling.”
Sounds like what we need, right? I ordered the smallest possible amount (50g) at a pharmacy and was very surprised when I picked it up: It was in a huge container, because the consistency is sooo fluffy and light that 50g is a LOT of powder. The funniest powder I’ve ever seen! But also quite dangerous because it’s so light: It will fly around in the air so you have to make sure you cover your nose with a mask – I don’t think breathing in a gelling agent is good for your lungs!
Here are all the three ingredients I tried:
What they look like as pulvers.
And here you can see what happens when they are mixed with water. Xanthan Gum is forming a white gel which is unusable in nail polish – we want our clear base to stay clear! Carbomer builds a perfectly clear gel but somehow doesn’t like to be pourred into nail polish. Aerosil looks a little milky here but also forms a rather clear gel and is dissolved very easily due to its superfine texture.
I explained above what happens if you try to thicken nail polish with Carbomer or Xanthan Gum. They both don’t work, well maybe transparent Xanthan Gum would work but I haven’t tried that yet.
Let’s see what Aerosil does!
I threw quite a lot of that stuff into the clear nail polish, actually I filled the bottle which was half empty all the way with the powder. After some shaking all the powder was magically gone, there was no clotting at all which I liked a lot. Afterwards the base was not as clear as it used to be, but I think I can live with the result for now. I have a feeling that a professional mixer or something would give even better results. The following pictures were taken after leaving the bottle alone for one night (about 10 hours). The glitter inside the Aerosil bottle is still suspended and nicely distributed through the whole bottle:
I can’t even tell you how happy I am with this outcome! I spent 2 months figuring out stuff, writing e-mails to companies and running to shops to check if they sell what I need. Not to forget I spent quite a lot of money, also on pulvers that I will never use again like Xanthan Gum and Carbomer – what to do with those?? ;) I will now experiment some more with the magic of Aerosil and see what effect it has in nail polish when you apply and wear it.
Please note: I must say that this posting is not meant to be professional in any way and I highly suggest you get some professional advice before you try any of this yourself and at your own risk. I actually have no clue what I’m talking about when it comes to chemistry so all I wanted to do in this posting is to share my experiences with you. I don’t know how the nail polish will behave on nails and if it will look good or not. Please keep this in mind before you buy a huge container of fluffy Aerosil ;)
In the meantime I did some more research. If you’re interested, please continue reading, to find out that Aerosil 200 is not the best solution because of the swatches, see how I compared it to other Aerosil forms, and be sure to stop by my ultimate final sum-up posting about suspension agents in nail polish!
I hope you enjoyed it a little – the next posting will be with pretty swatches again – I promise!