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What is Water Permeable Nail Polish?

What is Water Permeable Nail Polish?

There's been a lot of conversation recently around water permeable nail polish. Permeable is defined as a substance which water and gases can pass through. This leads us to wonder...what is it, why is it, and how can that be possible? As one of the industry leaders in this new nail technology, 786 Cosmetics is here to give you the low-down on water permeable nail polish.

Why is water permeable nail polish important?

There has actually been a lot of debate behind water permeable nail polish for many reasons. One of those reasons is the idea that nails need to "breathe" in between polish sessions. If you haven't heard it from your manicurist yet, many others have been given the speech that constant nail polish wear can make your nails brittle and unhealthy. The tight molecular structure of traditional nail polishes acts as a barrier between your nail and the rest of the world. This prevents outside water and oxygen from replenishing the nail. However, studies have shown that this really isn't as big of a deal as people make it out to be. Your nails get the oxygen they need from the blood that circulates all throughout your body, including the tips of your fingers.

Another reason why water permeable nail polish presented a need is because there weren't any Wudu-friendly nail polishes out there. If you aren't familiar with Wudu, it is a common cleansing practice in the Islamic faith for attaining purity. It involves washing the mouth, nostrils, arms, feet, head, and of course, the hands. There's been a lot of debate of whether it is appropriate to wear nail polish during the process since water can't reach all the way to the nail bed. This leads many women to either opt out of nail polish all together, or removing it (sometimes several times a day) before prayers.

How is this nail polish water permeable?

Now that we understand the need behind water permeable nail polish, it's time to find out what it is! So far, the best way I have heard it described is that the molecular structure is similar to a brick-laying pattern. Traditional nail polishes are like straight lines all tightly stacked together. This leaves no gaps for anything to pass through. On the other hand, water permeable nail polish is like bricks stacked on top of one another with small gaps in between that can allow microscopically small bits of water and oxygen to pass through.

How can you ensure nail polish is water permeable?

But how do you make sure the nail polish is actually permeable? If you look up tests online, there are many videos testing polish on paper towels and coffee filter papers. Those aren’t entirely accurate due to chemical reactions and may lead to false results due to contamination, among other things. The true testing is a bit more complex. A nail polish film sample is placed inside a diffusion chamber which separates the top half of the chamber from the bottom. Oxygen flows in through the top half and an oxygen-free carrier gas (like nitrogen) flows into the bottom half on the other side of the film. Once the oxygen permeates the nail polish film, we know the polish is permeable. The experiment is carried out according to ASTM D 3985 and ISO 15105-2 standards and are exacting standards, so they’re reliable and have greater relevance than coffee filter paper tests.


786 Cosmetics believes beauty products should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of spiritual or ethical beliefs. That’s why it was important to make a nail polish that was permeable, halal, Wudu-friendly and vegan without sacrificing quality or longevity. And creating bright, fun shades inspired by the world made it even better!

Hopefully, you understand a little more about water-permeable nail polish. What’s your favorite 786 Cosmetics nail polish color? Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to check out our Instagram for some amazing nail polish inspo.

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