Clean and Strong: Boost Innovation in Nail Care Products with the Help of Materials Science

materials science
What new products can be developed by nail care companies with the aid of materials science?
Image source: Flickr CC user Lelê Breveglieri

Day in and day out, our fingernails take a beating. Through regular activities, they experience endless wear and tear. Bad habits or nervous tics detract from our fingernails’ overall appearance. An accident can cause breakage or in the worst case scenario, rip the entire fingernail off. Now add in the various cosmetic products we can apply to our nails. Polishes come in a wide array of colors ranging from clear to black. They even come in glittery mixtures for consumers in a festive mood. More fashion-forward individuals don’t have to stick with solid colors, either. Stickers, jewels and stencils have transformed manicures into works of art.

But at the end of the day, these activities and products have a cumulative effect on our fingernails that leave consumers worried about their health. We see this concern reflected in the sales of nail treatment products. While the at-home market for nail color seems to be shrinking as more consumers opt for professionally done manicures in salons, the nail care category is growing. From 2012 to 2014, sales of nail care treatments rose by 12%.1 How can nail care companies build on this trend and bring further innovation to this category?

Nail Care Products Can Address Practical Concerns of Consumers

I’ll be the first person to say that I enjoy the rainbow hues of nail color, especially the darker shades like blue, violet and gunmetal grey. I even use glitter nail polish occasionally. Unfortunately, while these colors are fun to wear, they’re not as enjoyable to take off. It takes so many acetone-soaked cotton balls to remove the polish and even then, I sometimes still see leftover discoloration on my nails or a couple of stubborn flecks of glitter—talk about frustrating and messy.

Cutex recently added a formula to their extensive line of nail polish removers to address this common problem. The new SPX formula was specifically designed to remove the more problematic nail polishes quickly and effectively.2 Even better, it does so without relying on a 100% acetone solution. Acetone, while highly effective at removing nail polish, has the unwanted side effect of drying out our nails and surrounding skin. As consumers grow more concerned about the chemicals they put on their bodies, nail care companies will need to develop more products to satisfy changing expectations.

Materials Science Can Bring Innovation to the Nail Care Treatment Market

Cutex showed us that through innovative chemistry, we can create products able to remove the most stubborn of nail polishes without the associated harsh side effects. What other areas in the nail care market can we target? What products can we develop to address consumer need? Two areas immediately spring to mind:

  • Nail hardeners, which strengthen flimsy fingernails
  • Nail conditioners, which heal, strengthen and protect a person’s fingernails

As we’ve previously seen with eyelashes, materials science can be used to develop better products in these two categories. Hardeners work by reacting with the proteins in our nails to create chemical bonds that tie together.3 Conditioners work by penetrating the nail fiber, healing and strengthening from within. With the aid of materials science, we can develop compounds able to do these tasks more effectively. Imagine being able to construct a molecule that bonds with our nail proteins faster, so that consumers can see stronger nails in a shorter amount of time. Perfect for today’s on-the-go lifestyle that expects faster results. Or what if we could create a compound that works in conjunction with nail polish remover, conditioning the nail bed even while the base solution removes stubborn lacquer? It would be a product that addresses two issues simultaneously, a trait that consumers increasingly seek. Through materials science, nail care CPG firms can improve on existing products by making them more effective and convenient or by finding alternatives to presently used ingredients with non-ideal effects.

BIOVIA Materials Studio is a complete digital software suite that can help your consumer packaged good (CPG) company’s efforts in materials science. Its modeling and simulation environment allows researchers to visualize new chemical and molecular structures and predict their properties and behavior. Promising candidates can be screened in the initial stages of the R&D process, minimizing costs and time spent on running screening assays. In addition, it has the ability to automate repetitive tasks and create reusable protocols, both of which boost efficiency and the pace of innovation within your firm. Contact us today to learn more.

  1. “The Trends Polishing Up The US Nail Care Market,” April 17, 2015,
  2. “Cutex Continues to Innovate Beauty Market with New Product,” April 14, 2015,
  3. “Here’s What Nail Hardener Is, Plus More Tips For Growing Strong Nails,” November 2, 2015,

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