Testing a Powder Dye and Nail Polish to explore speckles

Testing a Powder Dye and Nail Polish to explore speckles

A customer added our Yellow #10 dye to our nail polish base and she had problems with floating particles, as shown in this photo she sent.  She asked me to investigate and so I did!
The full name of the Yellow #10 we sell is D&C Yellow Alum Lake. I immediately determined that there were a couple possible reasons for her fail:
  • My guess was that the customer didn't properly wet the powders prior to mixing into the polish batch.
  • The customer suspected that it was a problem of the lot number she received being a "bad batch' as she indicated she had successfully worked with the product before.
  • It was also possible that there was some unidentified problem that would reveal itself during testing.
To test the material, I pulled two different samples from two different lot numbers of material.  I took 1/4 teaspoon of the powder from each bag and placed them in a 2x2 bag.
I then put two squirts of rubbing alcohol into the bag to wet the pigments.  It is important to always wet your pigment with a small amount of liquid before adding it to a larger batch or you are likely to get speckles (just like making gravy can be lumpy if you don't start by adding flour to a reserve of fat).
I allowed the pigment to "slake" in the alcohol for about half a minute and then zipped the bag closed and rubbed the ingredients between my fingers.  
I then added 4 grams of Luster Base uncolored nail polish to each bag and mixed together with my fingers again. 
Finally, I took an equal amount of polish and placed it on a white paper in preparation of doing a "drawdown" test.
A drawdown test is a simple matter of running a spatula or pastry knife in a controlled way against a sample of color, to draw it down.  You are looking for any unresolved specs of pigment.  I also swatched both samples on a fake nail to see if there were any problems.
Both lot numbers appeared to blend and perform in a smooth and acceptable manner.
My conclusion:  the product is performing as expected.  The customer most likely did not adequately wet the pigment before adding it to the larger batch.
As an aside, I'll add that the blend of 1/4th teaspoon of dye to 4 grams of polish is not necessarily what I'd recommend.  That is a lot of dye!  It is possible that a polish of this concentration would be staining to the nail bed.
If you want to make a blue deeper or darker, you "add more blue" even to the point of it looking black!  But yellow doesn't really get deeper or darker if you "add more yellow".  It does at first, but pretty quickly it stops looking substantially different.  For this reason, one wants to save money and add the least amount of yellow as possible.  Also, as yellow tends to be a transparent color, you can get a better color boost by mixing yellow with white.  This way the color has the most "pow" but at the best cost.
Have a great day.
Kaila Westerman
President
TKB Trading, LLC
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