“Green” UV-LED Gel Nail Polishes from Bio-Based Materials

Forough Zareanshahraki and Vijay Mannari, Eastern Michigan University

Abstract: Nail polishes are one of the most widely used products in the US cosmetic industry, utilized by 117 million Americans in 2016, which is going to reach 122 million by 2020. Gel nail polishes are a specific class of nail polishes, with the ability to be cross-link under ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and consequently demonstrate improved properties and greater durability compared to the conventional ones. Most gel nail polishes available today are based on petrochemical based resources making them unsustainable. Bio-based materials are excellent renewable resources, with high potential of meeting final-product performance, cost and environmental benefits. In addition to this, bio-based materials can be modified to make them amenable to be cured by advanced UV-LED light that consumes low energy and is very safe for human exposure compared to conventional UV-mercury lamps. There has been a clearly growing consumer preference for use of products made from bio-based sources.

According to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) technology roadmap, 10% of basic chemical building blocks should be derived from plant-based renewable resources by 2020 and this amount should increase to 50% by 2050. However, to the best of our knowledge, bio-based nail products has not been sufficiently explored. Therefore, considering the increasing consumption of nail polishes and to keep pace with the bio-based regulations and consumer preference, there is an unmet opportunity to develop novel sustainable nail gel polishes with considerable bio-renewable content.

In this study, two Green UV-LED curable nail gel polish prototypes; one high-solid zero-VOC and the other waterborne, both with considerable bio-renewable content have been designed, and their performance compared with a commercial petro-based benchmark. Also, both formulations were cured under both UV-mercury and UV-LED radiation sources in order to evaluate their curing efficiency under UV-LED source. The high-solid formulation demonstrated very promising performance, exceeding that of the benchmark, while waterborne formulation met most of the desirable requirements with some significant technical benefits. These novel nail gel polishes are greener alternatives to the current products in the market with promising consumer acceptance.