Aerosil Update and Swatches :)

Girls…wow! Just wow. I have never had so many hits before on my blog, I received so many e-mails, comments, backlinks from discussions on MUA, Facebook and various forums. Thanks to everyone for all the fruitful suggestions and discussions, I will try to summarize what all of these lovely frankeners and I found out during the past day.

But first of all: This is what the glitter looks like after approximately 50 hours without moving it. As you can see, I have added some bigger glitter particles, because most frankeners would like to include these in their creations. Both glitter types are still very nicely suspended, there is no sedimentation and no settling – the bottom of the bottle is completely free of glitter. That’s how we like it 🙂

Now to the swatches. You will now understand why I’ve been wanting you to wait with your order of the normal Aerosil 200 that I used. There is this kind of structure on the surface of the nail polish – it just doesn’t want to dry even and shiny… this was such a disappointment when I saw it on my nails!

Close-Up of the structured surface:

Some of us might think that they will add a top coat after applying a glitter nail polish anyways and that this is not a problem. But it just doesn’t feel right and shows me, that just mixing the pulver into nail polish isn’t enough. To complete the swatches, the following swatch is after applying a top coat:

And now, a summary of all the discussions:

How did I disperse Aerosil 200 in the nail polish?

I simply added it to a half-full bottle of clear polish. I added as much as there was space for in the bottle (lots). There are also 2 beads in the polish to help suspend the glitter and powder. And then I just shook the bottle for a while! The pulver is so fine that it almost immediately disappeared in the polish. But as we can see on the swatches, it seems like the Aerosil didn’t actually disperse enough.

Ideas about how the dull / matte / rough drying of the polish can be stopped?

Actually, there are a few things that need testing. I think the structured surface comes from the fact that Aerosil is not dispersed enough in the polish. First of all, I might have actually used the wrong Aerosil. Some frankeners pointed me to the Aerosil website again, and there it says that there are hydrophobic and hydrophilic fumed silicas.

hydrophobic = doesn’t like water and cannot be mixed with it

hydrophilic: = loves water and is dissolvable by water

In general, nail polish is hydrophobic, so the fumed silica should also be hydrophobic for a nice dispersion. The Aerosil I used is hydrophilic though, which means that this could be the problem. So what you might want to look for is hydrophobic amorphous, colloidal fumed silica. Geez, thats a hell of a name! It is commonly known as AEROSIL® R 972. Now, this hydrophobic fumed silica is not as easy to get as Aerosil 200 :(. I have one seller willing to sell me 10kg for 40 Euro, but I really don’t need that. I haven’t found any smaller amounts yet. I did however request a sample from the Aerosil website – no clue if this will work.

A better dispersion of Aerosil can also be reached by using high speed mixers. Well, I hardly produce more than one tiny bottle of nail polish at a time plus I don’t own a highspeed mixer. But there might be another possibility the lovely Chiro pointed me to in the comments – I might try and use an ultrasonic cleaning device (you know, where you can throw your jewlery and glasses in and the ultrasound dissolves all the dirt). She said they also use this method in labs when a high speed mixer is not available. I’m still optimistic about this – if the hydrophilic silica already behaved so well in my polish, the hydrophobic one might be just perfect 🙂

While I’m busy experimenting, other frankeners are really working hard to find another supplier of nail polish glitter suspension base. I really hope they will succeed and that they will soon be able to continue their frankening without problems.

That’s it for today, if you have any questions, feel free to comment, twitter me, or shoot me an e-mail 🙂

Check out my follow up postings. Here i compared swatches of a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic fumed silica, and here I tried to sum up everything I found out about suspension agents in nail polish!

58 thoughts on “Aerosil Update and Swatches :)

  1. Just wanted to say I visited the Aerosil website and I noticed there were 3 other Hydrophilic Aerosils with smaller numbers than 200. There’s a 90, a 130 and a 150. If you look here
    You can see that 130, 150 and 200 all say “Loss on drying (wt%)” and they are all less than or equal to 1.5 whereas the 90 says less than or equal to 1.0. It makes me wonder if you were to use the Aerosil 90 if it would be less “chunky” when dried because it lost more wt(?)


    • Thank you Rachel for this suggestion 🙂 I’m not sure what wt means but the tricky thing is that the lower the number behind the hydrophilic Aerosil types, the bigger the particles. Aerosil 90 has 20nm particles while Aerosil 200 has 12nm particles. The bigger the particles, the rougher the surface, I would expect. Plus I’m pretty sure that hydroPHILIC Aerosil is not what goes best with nail polish. Thanks anyways since I had never paid attention to the “loss on drying” part!


    • May I add small info for this?
      Loss on drying doesn’t mean anything for “polish drying”, it just means how the weight will change by really strong drying up of silica powder itself (e.g., bake it in 100°C oven for certain time). This data gives you the idea for example how much humidity they absorb by normal keeping (less “loss on drying” = less absorption).

      So for use on nail polish, what might be important is particle size, and actually BET surface size…and also hydrophilic/phobic business, too!


    • thanks so much for this link! Attapulgite – a totally new word for me – I checked it out a little more and I think it works as long as you’re not looking for a transparent base.


  2. Ahhhh I see. You should win some kind of chemist award. I hope the Aerosil R 972 works better than the Aerosil 200, its just my luck that polish base would become unavailable right when I decide I want to try mixing polish myself.


    • I know and this would definitely be considered. However, I won’t buy 10kg of something which I don’t know would work. I requested samples and will wait for those first. If it works, I’ll think about buying 10kg and selling small amounts to everyone who is interested 🙂


      • I understand! I know I would be interested, since suspension base isn’t available here (and atm not for the US ladies either), so this would be an awesome alternative! Then I just have to find glitters that won’t bleed! haha..


  3. Just a few comments:

    The Aerosil website has several documents available if you sign up for a free account. They detail what types of Aerosil to use for which applications and how to mix them. For nail polish they recommend several of the hydrophilic varieties, and specifically the Aerosil 200 that you used. That is partly because the surface area (which is what the ‘200’ indicates) is the lowest that can be effectively mixed in at low dispersion speeds that are typically used in manufacture of nail polish.

    Secondly, I think the reason you are seeing granularity in your finished product *may* be because you put too much in. The documentation I saw recommended 1.5 – 3% aerosil by weight for effective suspension. The other reason may be just what you suspect that it wasn’t mixed at a high enough speed. One of the documents available explains in great detail the size of the blade and the mixing speed necessary relative to the container size being mixed in to ensure effective dispersion.

    I hope this helps! I’m not a chemist or even a scientist I just find this stuff fascinating.


  4. hi there,
    if it’s small amount of the other grades of
    fumed silica you want, I would be more than happy
    to offer it to you. in as little as you want? I have a mineral supply company and sell fumed silica in the 200, 300 and r972

    to arrange this pleZe
    email me at


    • thanks so much for this offer! It might also be interesting for my readers!
      I might come back to you soon, but first I want to see if the samples I ordered will arrive.

      You wrote on your website that Aerosil is used in nail polish to suspend glitters and mica. Did you try that yourself or are you basing this on the research that has been going on in the nail world the last couple weeks?


  5. So after reading your last article I got inspired to try some things out myself and ordered a sample of both Aerosil 200 and 300 just for the heck of it. And for some reason they sent me two 300’s. haha! And oh goodness are they large samples! hahaha. BUT! So far I have had great success with the 300. I find it disperses the glitter quite well after only 1 coat and pretty much flawlessly after 2. The glitter I used is a tad bit finer, I think it’s about .05mm. (That might also make a difference.) But I am still waiting until tomorrow to see how well it holds up. I’ll keep you updated! ^_^


  6. “I simply added it to a half-full bottle of clear polish. I added as much as there was space for in the bottle (lots).” This MIGHT be the issue? Have you tested various concentrations? Usually very little of a suspension agent is needed, as it forms a gel, and oversaturating it is not desierable (sort of like lumpy too thick jello, I guess)?


  7. (Oh – someone mentioned this in the comments already! *facepalm*) Another thought was: with the bentonite/clay suspension agents: before they’re added to butyl acetate during nail polish manufacture they are mixed with some sort of acid (citric, acetic, are ones I’ve seen listed on manufacturer’s info pages) before they’re dispersed at high speed into the rest of the base. Since you’re adding a polar gelling agent to something that is already clear nail polish this might be even more important – i.e. the clear polish already has a gel consistency, and Aerosil will not dissolve 100% without being dissolved in some small amount of solvent first. (I’m not sure if the same method will work on Aerosil – I have only taken a look at bentonite chemistry so far).


      • To be honest, I would try something like citric acid powder in various amounts to small amounts of Aerosil 200, then small amounts of water until everything dissolved exactly – and then keep lowering the amount of citric acid powder you used. Alternatively you can just try lemon juice or vinegar. I’d go for like, 5% Aerosil (by weight) to the amount of polish you want to end up making, max, then a variety of acid amounts. In any case, weak acids SHOULD work. Ethanol or ethers are the classes of solvents to stay away from (unless you want to make crackles, hah!)

        I would first try various concentrations of Aerosil alone – from 1% to 5% in clear polish to see if it forms the strange texture again (and to test whether it was simply too much Aerosil that caused it), and then the above idea (probably with lemon juice in tiny amounts if you don’t have citric acid on hand). I haven’t been able to find much on Aerosil 200 itself, but the above is how Bentonite compounds are dissolved before mixing into nail polish.

        As for mixing, to be honest… the first thing that comes to my mind is a test tube mixer (for use in chem and mostly bio labs <- you can see my background here). One of those machines where you put a tube of stuff you want mixed down onto a rubberized based and it shakes it up like crazy depending on how hard you press? 'Test tube shaker' or "Vortexer" – usually cheapish and probably useful for mixing dyes into polishes too.

        (Oh, side note with the acid thing: apparently colorants/pigments are also dissolved first in small amounts of weak acid to "activate" them (<- I have no idea what would need activating in a dye) or brighten the color and make it more evenly dissolve in nail polish).


      • Oh, some of the places I’m hunting for info is the patent databases here: (that one particularly mentions Aerosil 200):

        “Preferably, the amount formulated of these components is 0.1 to 2.0% by weight, more preferably 0.5 to 1.5% by weight. When the amount formulated is less than 0.1% by weight, it is difficult to obtain a good thixotropic property and the stability over a long period may become poor. Conversely, when this amount exceeds 2.0% by weight, the gloss of the enamel coating becomes poor during use, and the durability (peeling) over a long period also becomes poor. ”

        Sounds like 1) there might not be a need to use acid/dissolve Aerosil first and 2) if you stay under 2% you should avoid the strange texture a peeling (apparently) issues.


  8. Hello All,
    I have been doing some talking with Aerosil and other suppliers, and it does seem that the 200 is the way to go. At least that is what I was told the big nail polish names use. I was also told that Aerosil 200 does not always need to be mixed at shearing speeds. It depends on the amount of Aerosil used and the application. I have ordered the R972 200 and Bentone 27. I am going to test them all to see how it works out.I will try to update you all. this is really getting out of hand. I run my small franken shop and can’t find a supplier! If i can’t find one soon I will have to shut down. Ugh!


  9. Hey Ash,

    even though high speed mixing might not be required I think that some kind of mechanic mixing (like with a hobby paint shaker or an ultrasound cleaning device) might help a lot.
    As soon as I get my hands on either of those I’ll make sure to post my experiences here.
    I hope you can find a solution to your base-supplier problem. I don’t want a pretty indie polish brand to shut down!!


    • Thanks!

      Thought…what about a handheld mixer/emulsifier They rotate pretty quickly and i assume that would be better than nothing. I am going to the specialty cooking supply store today and will pick one up. I get my aerosil friday ill update u all soon!


    • Dear Annie,

      thanks so much for your comment! I hope I can find time this weekend to give an update because I’ve been in touch with so many nice girls trying to figure out the Aerosil thingie too 🙂


  10. Hey there! OK So i ordered a sample of the 972 from Evonik…it was free!! It works absolutely perfect. I blended it with a hand mixer…like one you use for cakes etc….it doesn’t dry like the 200 with a gritty feel. It’s perfectly smooth and suspends perfect. Evonik let me know that they are also sending me a sample of the 974. They say it should work even better than the 972.

    Hope this helps anyone/everyone


    • Hi Ash,

      wow thanks so much for this encouraging update!
      Thanks to a very nice girl I also have Aerosil 972 and 300 on the way to me so I’ll make sure I’ll post a comparison post as soon as I got those. Can’t wait now that I read your comment with these great results! Thanks so much for sharing!


    • They didn’t want to send me a sample since I had no related company listed (just listed Etsy/independent seller); what did you put (or do you have a polish company or similar thing that would apply?)


      • Hey Lise,

        I myself never got samples either, probably because I don’t have a related company. All my Aerosil samples are either from the pharmacy or from very nice bloggers who shared some with me!


  11. I sent Tkb Trading a email asking them if they would ever restock their franken polishes. This is what they sent back: “Yes, sometime in May. We’ll update our site when it’s avaliable” -Kaila. I’m excited!


  12. Some new info that might be interesting, at least for ease of purchasing: “Frog’s Fanny” fly fishing additive/powder is pure hydrophobic silica, as is this stuff: (scroll down to fumed silica, check MSDS), which is sold by some people as refills for the frog’s fanny stuff.

    I tested small, medium and super large glitters (large stars) and all but the large stars suspended – at least for 2 days sitting there. I used 1 scoop (straw cut diagonally, small heap at the cut end), 3 scoops and 5 scoops in 3ml of top coat, with 1 scoop not working that well to suspend small glitter and none of the above amounts suspended the large star. 3 scoops in 3ml results in slowly sinking small glitter particles over a day, 5 seems to be fine. I do not have any pigments other than spectraflair to test yet. It’s not grainy at all when applied to a nail (at least a nail wheel).

    It’s $4-5 for a small (tiny) container of the Frog’s Fanny stuff, which is what I got, or $6 for a quart (huge amount) of the above fumed silica from the epoxy place (or $20 on ebay). Cool stuff 🙂


    • Hi Lise,

      thank you soo much for this very helpful update! I’ve been waiting for someone to test this fishing stuff as I was not sure if it is pure silica.

      This is great news, so thanks again for sharing!


      • Cool! Glad I could help. The polish is clear when applied to the nail, smooth, but dries a bit flatter than the top coat by itself (this was Out the Door topcoat, so I will test a normal clear polish next, since the quick dry ones might behave differently, who knows).

        Various fishing sites, and guys who sell refills of the pure fumed silica (like the one linked above) say the frog’s fanny stuff behaves identically and other than cute applicator bottle, the only difference is price.

        Let’s see: for that 5 scoops (like 1/4inch fluffy ball at end of straw if that helps) in 3ml it suspended one scoop of glitter of equivalent size (so sparse! will need way more for thick glitter polishes). I’m sure it’s way under 1% saturation since this stuff is crazy light.

        Glad to help 🙂


  13. I mean, I doubt it’s anywhere near perfect and more silica is used than would be needed if it was mixed at high speeds, but I’m surprised it works as well as it appears to work.


  14. Pingback: Aerosil as a suspension agent in clear nail polish – R972 vs. 300 « From head to foot

  15. I’m wondering if anyone has any updates on any of this? I found it all incredibly fascinating (despite barely being able to follow along at some points lol)


  16. why not just buy the bulk size and resell them into smaller quanitities, it would be a win / win. You get what you want + some profit and we can all have access to this. Because right now in the uk I havent seen or found a seller who sells this product. Just a thought. BTW your blog is BRILLIANT!!!!!! keep up the amazing work.


    • Hey jen,

      thanks for this suggestion 🙂
      I just felt that I wasn’t ready to sell something that I don’t even know would work for frankening. I’m still in the experimenting phase.
      And honestly, I don’t know if I’d find the time it needs to organize the resell! I’ll definitely think about it again though 🙂


  17. Hi,

    I’ve been following these posts and comments with great interest. It’s such a great way of pooling information, and I hope I can contribute a little. I have been looking at the recommendations for use of fumed silica in cosmetic products by Cabot, a competing manufacturer. By comparing this with the information on the blog, I think I can show an overview of the silica grades. It looks possible that all of them can be actually be used. I will need to mention the different types, so please do stick with this to the end.

    Cab-o-sil is a range of amorphous fumed silica additives to either control fluid behaviour in liquids (what we want), or control moisture and caking in dry products. Amorphous means that the silica is not crystalline silica (crystalline silica causes lung disease, and is no good for nail polish anyway). Different grades of fumed silica are available with a range of surface areas (sq metres per gram of product) for different uses.

    At the bottom end of the price range are the untreated grades, M-5 (200sq. m/g), H-5 (300sq.m/g) and HS-5 and EH-5. The first two seem to be the direct equivalents of Aerosil 200 and 300. These are what is usually called hydrophillic. I think this is just for simplification, as silica is not naturally water-loving, so they are really just non water-repelling ( they have not been treated to actually attract water). These will be completely useless for the fly fishing people.

    The other grades all treated partially or fully with water-repelling chemicals to make them hydrophobic. TS-610 is partially treated, TS-720 and TS530 are both fully treated (with different additives, for different purposes). The hydrophobic grades have far higher surface areas and seem to correspond roughly to the R792, R794 and R812 Aerosil types. I’m pretty sure that Frog’s Fanny (and anything else that works this well for fishing flies) is a fully treated fumed silica.

    For thickening and suspension in liquid cosmetics (including nail polish) Cabot recommend the untreated grades. Higher surface area means that the silica offers a greater thickening/suspension effect (so less can be used for the same effect), but it also makes the silica require more shear to disperse effectively. As a result the M-5 (lowest area grade) is most widely used, as cosmetics are generally mixed with plantary mixers and high speed dispersers, which generate only low to moderate shear. The higher surface area untreated grades are usually used as dry carriers of fragrance or perfumes. The treated (hydrophobic grades) are recommended for thickening mineral oil based formulas, high temperature resistance aplications, or for as an anti-caking agent (for powders) or a dry carrier for liquids.

    Interestingly, while the M-5 (Aerosil 200 equivalent) grade is recommended, Cabot say that all of the grades of Cab-o-sil can actually be used in nail polish. They give a dosing rate across the whole range of 0.25-1% by weight, so I assume this means around 1% M-5 or similar, or just 0.25% of a coated grade, provided it is fully dispersed. The silica actually works by forming a matrix inside the liquid which suspends the particles, so how well it is dispersed will affect how well it performs.

    The implication of all this is that any of these fumed silicas may be able to create a suspension base if added at the correct level and dispersed properly. For people like me who will be mixing by hand (one bottle, or a few at a time), 1% of the untreated types could be all that is needed. As the Frog’s Fanny worked when tested (thank you Lise!), it may be that a larger quantity of not-fully dispersed coated silica can be as effective as a smaller amount of fully dispersed coated silica.

    Regarding dosing, I weighed a bottle of cheap clear polish and compared it with an empty bottle of the same polish, and found 14ml weighed 14g. So at 1% dosing by weight, you would need 0.14g per 14ml bottle of polish. My scales only weigh to 1g increments, so I would have to add this (1g) to about 7 full bottles of the same polish if I wanted to see if this dosing rate works. The amounts are tiny if it is fully dispersed!

    Of course first I’d have to get hold of the stuff, though one of the fishing forums did have a suggestion I will follow up.

    Any thoughts anyone?


    • Hey PP,

      thanks so so much for this! Especially for explaining all the different kinds of fumed silica. There still seems to be some disagreement about which kind of silica to use, as I’ve heard from someone else who asked Evonik for a thickener in nail polish and they recommended the hydrophobic R972.

      As far as I’ve tested hydrophobic and hydrophilic versions and just shaking the bottles by hand, I definitely preferred the hydrophobic ones, because they make the polish look less dull and gritty when dry.


  18. I suspect that too much of any of the grades will give a matt and/or uneven finish, because silica is widely used as a mattifying agent in coating or film forming applications (essentially this is what nail polish does on the nail). It is possible that the hydrophilic (uncoated) type dispersed more effectively with hand mixing and the polish was over-dosed making it matt. If the hydrophobic versions require more shear than hand mixing, maybe only a little is effectively dispersed this way (with the rest being inactive in the polish). I can only guess about this though, as the amounts used are not known. On the whole, it seems better to use whichever type can be used at the lowest dose added (if you can get hold of a choice that is), as this runs the least risk of reducing the performance of the nail polish you add it to (adhesion, wear, chipping etc).

    I have since found a UK supplier who sells uncoated fumed silica in 250g bags, so will be contacting them later today to get hold of some. I want to try and measure what dosing rate I use, as well as whether it suspends or not, so this will take some thought as these tiny amounts are very hard to weigh.


  19. Pingback: Ultimate nail polish suspension agent sum-up posting « From head to foot

  20. I am very late in replying to this thread, but just found this thread by accident.
    I have a nail lacquer manufacturing company in India.
    In general, Aerosil R972 is the grade used for nail polish. Aerosil R200 is generally used in paints for cars and walls.


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