Don’t ruin your nails by using the wrong sunscreen

Kelly and Dixiemedic have the same problem: Kelly has acrylic nails and every time she applies Coppertone Waterbabies sunscreen to her daughters, it ruins her manicure. Dixie says sunscreen makes her nails all sticky but she`s not sure if it`s the topcoat or the nail itself that`s messed up. They both want a sunscreen that won`t mess with their nails.

The Right Brain tries to help:


Are Sunscreens Bad for Nail Polish?

We`re surprised more people haven`t asked about this; in fact, we`re surprised this isn`t all over the internet! Why? Because it`s TRUE that sunscreens can soften or dissolve acrylic nails or nail polish. As we`ve said before, sunscreen ingredients can be tough to dissolve (by the way, if you haven`t read our post on 3 Ways to Tell if Your Sunscreen is Bad, this might be a good time to do so).

Anyway, it just so happens that some of the ingredients used to dissolve the sunscreen agents also dissolve the kinds of acrylic chemicals used in nail polishes and fake nails. In fact, some of these dissolving agents (or emulsifiers, as we chemists like to refer to them) are used in acetone free nail polish removers!

For example, if you look at Cutex`s Acetone Free polish remover, you`ll see that it contains dimethyl adipate which is very similar to “dibutyl adipate,” a common emulslifier used in sunscreens. So it’s not surprising that you’re seeing a problem with your sunscreen making your nail polish sticky! And, this problem is only likely to get worse because as new high SPF, broad spectrum sunscreens become increasingly popular, cosmetic formulators will have to add more dissolving agents to the product to keep the active ingredients dispersed.

Unfortunately, we can’t just tell you which sunscreens will cause the problem and which won’t. We’d have to test each sunscreen with each type of nail polish before we’d know for sure. That’s not very practical for us do to, but we can give you a tip for testing your favorite products:

How To Tell if Your Sunscreen Will Ruin Your Manicure

Smear a little of your favorite nail polish on a piece of glass (you can use an empty nail polish bottle or even a old compact mirror. Then, take that with you when you`re shopping for a sunscreen. Squeeze a little of the sunscreen product onto your polish smear and see if it softens the film. That should be a pretty good predictor if it will be ok when you actually apply it with your manicured fingers.

Kelly, try this experiment with your Waterbabies product and see if it helps! Let us know how it works out. And as always, thanks for being part of the Beauty Brains community!