Even Nail Polish can be a Science Lesson
by Annie Shao, age 19
Even nerdy science majors like me enjoy a nice nail color.
But when it’s a nail polish infused with science, we love it. My friends
bought me a bottle of magnetic nail polish for my birthday so, I
decided to do a manicure and a mad scientist experiment at the same
Magnetic nail polish is a special beauty product
that goes on as a solid color like a normal nail polish, but forms
patterns when a magnet is held over the wet polish. The bottle comes
with a magnet that creates a wave pattern, but I made some of my own
designs by cutting and arranging pieces of kitchen magnets. The result
is a beautiful, three-dimensional design that is impossible to achieve
with regular nail polish.
The “secret” ingredient of
magnetic nail polish is, not surprisingly, magnets. Magnets are more
common than you might guess. Many different types of atoms are miniature
magnets themselves, with a north and south pole just like your average
most common materials, the magnetic atoms are all pointing in random
directions, and the positive and negative poles cancel out so that the
material as a whole is not magnetic. In a magnet, all atoms are pointing
in the same direction. When a metal “sticks” to a magnet, it’s actually
turning into one itself. The magnet attracts the atoms in the metal,
which lines them up in the same direction. Iron, which is incorporated
into the nail polish as a powder, is a very easy metal to magnetize.
The iron is uniformly distributed and hasn’t yet been
influenced by any magnets when the nail polish is first applied. This is
why it goes on as just one color. Once the magnet is held above the wet
nail polish, the iron pieces get attracted and repelled by the magnet’s
poles, and a pattern appears.
magnetic nail polish was the most fascinating of my birthday presents.
It’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but the scientific background was
even more stunning than the nail polish’s appearance.