Cosmetics Industry Case Study: Making Nail Polish
Find the solution for one of the toughest mixing applications in the cosmetic industry, making nail polish. Read this case study on the Process, the Problem and the Solution.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Cosmetics Industry Case Study: Making Nail Polish
Nail Varnish Manufacture
HIGH SHEAR MIXERS/EMULSIFIERS
Solutions for Your TOUGHEST
MIXING Applications in
Several processing requirements must be met in order to achieve the desired product:
• The mixer must provide vigorous in-tank movement to incorporate light powders which
tend to float, and to prevent dense solids from sinking to the bottom of the vessel.
• Generally premicronized pigments are used, so particle size reduction (milling) is not
applicable. However, the particles may need de-agglomeration and must be reduced
to their finest constituent parts.
• Mixing equipment must be capable of blending fluids of widely differing viscosities e.g.
liquid resins or pre-dispersed colorants (where used) into base solvent.
Using conventional agitators several problems can be encountered:
• Nitrocellulose chips have a high specific gravity and tend to sink to the bottom of the
• The chips become tacky when in contact with solvent and have a strong tendency to
agglomerate and/or stick to the base and walls of the vessel.
• The slow washing action of agitators takes a long time to dissolve the resin.
• Heating is often required to assist dissolving, however this increases costs and leads
to problems with volatile and flammable solvents. Solvent loss often requires addition
of extra solvent to standardize viscosity/color strength.
• Some powders float on the liquid surface and are difficult to wet out.
• Poor dispersion of pigment reduces color strength and stability, and can lead to
• High speed dispersers can be used for dissolving resins and dispersion of pigments,
but they have a large energy requirement.
Nail varnish (also called nail polish or enamel) is a lacquer consisting of ingredients as
illustrated in the table below. Varnishes are produced in a variety of colors and finishes
such as clear, metallic and pearlescent.
Nail Varnish Manufacture
Nitrocellulose is the main resin used, producing a hardwearing, glossy, non-toxic film with
good adhesion. Additional “secondary” resins are often used to modify the film
characteristics to improve flexibility, gloss, ease of application (brushability), resistance to
chipping, adhesion etc. Recent developments include the introduction of other resins
such as methacrylates and vinyl polymers to replace the nitrocellulose.
Organic D&C pigments and permitted inorganic pigments are used. These are
generally premicronized. Colorants are also available as predispersed liquids.
Added to keep the product soft and pliable. Typically dibutyl phthalate is used.
up to 7%
The pigments are suspended rather than dissolved into the varnish. Clays such as
bentonite and hectorite are used to stabilize the suspension.
The most common solvents are acetone, ethyl alcohol, ethyl acetate and N-butyl acetate.
Additional solvents such as toluene and isopropyl alcohol can also be used as diluents (to
adjust final viscosity).
Solvent 70 - 80%
Filler Silica and other fillers may be added. Some fillers may be used to obtain special effects
such as pearlescence, metallic finish etc.
The entire manufacturing process can be carried out in a single stage by using a
Silverson high shear mixer. Operation is as follows:
The continuous intake and expulsion of materials through
the workhead progressively reduces particle size and
exposes an increasing surface area to the solvent,
accelerating the solubilization process. Premicronized
pigments and other powdered or liquid ingredients can be
added and are dispersed/ deagglomerated as they are
subjected to intense high shear with each pass through the
The resin chips are subjected to a milling action in the gap
between the tips of the rotor and the inner wall of the
stator, rapidly reducing particle size. The product is then
forced out through the stator at great velocity as fresh
material is drawn in.
The vessel is charged with solvent and the resin chips are
added. The high speed rotation of the rotor draws the
liquid and solids up from the base of the vessel into the
workhead. Centrifugal force then drives the materials to
the periphery of the workhead.
This offers a number of advantages:
• Processing time is dramatically reduced
• Resins can be dissolved at ambient temperature
• The entire manufacturing process can be carried out in the same vessel
• Rapid incorporation and wetting out of powders
• Improved dispersion maximizes color strength
• Greatly improved product quality, consistency and stability
• Easy to clean.A short run in the appropriate solvent is normally sufficient
Silverson Machines,Inc. 355 Chestnut Street, East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Ph: (413) 525-4825 • Fax:(413) 525-5804 • www.silverson.com
Information contained in this report is believed to be correct and
is included as a guide only. No warranty is expressed or implied
as to fitness for use or freedom from patents. Silverson Machines
reserve the right to change product specification without notice.
Issue No. 43TA2
Pipeline return below fluid
level to prevent aeration
High Shear In-Line Mixers
• Ideal for larger batches where production is dedicated
to one color
• Easily retro-fitted to existing process
• Self pumping
• The mixer, pipework, and vessel form a closed system,
eliminating solvent emissions
High Shear Batch Mixers
• Suitable for smaller batch sizes
• Can be vessel mounted or used on mobile floor stands
• Sealed units available for pressure/vacuum operation
• Small units available for R&D and pilot production
High Shear Bottom Entry Mixers
• No immersed shaft- reduces cleaning requirements
• Suitable for operation in sealed vessels for control of
• Two-speed units available.Variable speed can be
obtained with an inverter
The batch size, formulation, and type of ingredients dictate
which machine from the Silverson product line is best
suited to individual processing requirements: