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Science Fair Nail Polish Procedure Question

Postby jennifergill8 » Tue Nov 17, 2020 8:00 am

For my science fair project, I'm hoping to determine if the price of nail polish affects its durability. I'm having trouble coming up with a procedure that does not involve painting the nail polish on human hands with real fingernails since that would create too many variables. My parents suggested painting the polish on fake nails and soaking them in water with a small amount of nail polish remover added to see which brand comes off first but that did not work. Do you have any suggestions for my procedure that doesn't involve painting the polish on human nails? I could also alter my question if needed. Thank you.

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Re: Science Fair Nail Polish Procedure Question

Postby audacious_otter » Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:59 pm

I think your parents might be on the right track. Why didn't their suggestion work? Maybe try putting them in water without nail polish remover? Try figuring out which ingredient(s) preserve the life best and find out which kind of nail polish contains that ingredient(s). Sounds like a great project!


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Re: Science Fair Nail Polish Procedure Question

Postby koneill18 » Tue Nov 17, 2020 6:27 pm

Hi there!

This is an interesting question! If you can’t get the water to work, you can maybe try painting the polish onto the fake nail, waiting a few minutes for it to dry, and then rubbing the nail with a cotton pad or a piece of white paper. You could count how many times you have to rub the nail for the polish to smudge and then compare your results between different nail polishes.

I hope this helps!

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Re: Science Fair Nail Polish Procedure Question

Postby ap567 » Wed Nov 18, 2020 1:36 pm


Looking at the design of your experiment, I would definitely go with fake nails. It appears that soaking the painted nails in water with nail polish remover is not working, so I suggest using sandpaper. You can take a small piece of sandpaper and sand each nail, making sure to apply a steady amount of force and consistent movements when sanding. Keep track of how many passes of the sandpaper it takes to remove the nail polish from each nail completely. Then you can compare your data to see which nail polish held up the longest.

If you would like, you can go further with your experiment by looking at the ingredients of the nail polish and comparing them, keeping in mind your results.

If false nails still do not give you the results you are looking for, I recommend using a 1" square of metal or thick aluminum sheeting.

Good luck and have fun!

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Re: Science Fair Nail Polish Procedure Question

Postby EricBebenov24 » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:17 am

Hi there!

Adding on to what the other experts suggested, here is an article ( that can hopefully explain the science or chemistry behind the durability of nail polish. You can read more about polymerization and the bond formation between the nail polish and the intended surface for its application (natural nails, artificial nails, etc). You can also take a look at whether certain brands of nail polish are light or temperature sensitive, giving you insight into the many factors that increase or decrease durability.

In addition, you can even look at techniques that can enhance the durability of nail polish after it is already purchased. This can include utilizing ultraviolet light to better apply certain types of nail polish or focusing on how exactly the nail polish is applied to the nail (up and down, or in a circular motion).

Throughout your experiment, you should also maintain consistency with how fresh/old a certain brand of nail polish is and how much of it you exactly apply to a surface. Are you using similar strokes and applying the same amount? Are all bottles of nail polish under the same temperature prior to their use? When applying the nail polish, is there an outside interference that increases/decreases the amount of time for it to dry? Consider these questions and just try to mitigate any confounding variables that might have an effect on your dependent variable (durability).

And finally, when trying to connect price to durability, make sure you consider where you are buying these different brands because two different stores might sell the same brand of nail polish, but with two different price points (one being more expensive than the other). This is due to different contracts with suppliers which influences the price of the product sold to the customers. So you might want to consider buying your products from the same store!

I hope your experiment goes well and don't hesitate to ask for any clarification!


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Re: Science Fair Nail Polish Procedure Question

Postby lmp1341 » Wed Nov 25, 2020 11:45 am

Hi there,
You have a really cool and unique project idea!! It sounds like you're going to be running an awesome experiment! :)
The other experts have provided some great advice regarding how you can go about your procedure, and I suggest looking into the links they provided, as they have some great information that you might find to be very helpful.

As far as the procedure goes, because the other experts have given you a lot of ideas, I just wanted to pitch in with my opinion so that you can decide yourself on which method you want to go with. These are just my thoughts!! ... ingernails

Here's a really great step by step guide that explains how you can paint fake-fingernails for your project in an easy, hassle free way.

As far as durability goes, try to think about what you are trying to model in your project. From what I gathered, you're trying to use this experiment as a model of how durable nail polish is in real life, when someone wears it. So, according to this, I would not soak the nail polish in any kind of water or remover before you do your scratch test, just to keep things as close to "real" as possible.

If it's okay, I've added a sample procedure that you might find helpful. Feel free to use as little or much of it as you like, make it your own, or just select certain steps that you like!!

1. Prepare fake nails for painting and label the backs with the letters corresponding to the paint-type they get (include more info, this is where you do the wiki-how steps!)
2. Paint 3 fake nails with nail polish A (expensive)
3. Paint 3 other fake nails with nail polish B (moderate)
4. Paint 4 other fake nails with nail polish C (cheap)
5. Allow the nails to dry for 24h
6. Using a piece of sandpaper, count the number of swipes that it takes for each nail to show "scratches or damage" and record this number in your data table
7. Be sure to take before and after pictures!!

This is just an idea, but it seems like it could be the simplest and reality-modeling experiment that could work for your testable question.

Let me know what you think, and if you have ANY other questions, please let us know and we'll be so happy to assist!!

Happy experimenting and stay nerdy!!

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