Magnetic Cosmetic

Thanks to Martin Bauer for the link to an evilmadscientist piece about the shape of magnetic fields. The article, a thorough tour of the various ways to visualise magnetic fields, mentions a strange kind of nail varnish. Behold Le Magnetique, from Lancome: 

The nail varnish contains ferromagnetic particles that orient in a magnetic field. That little plastic hood on the bottle has a magnet inside, and when the nail varnish is still wet, it shifts it into the starbust formation. When dried, the particles stay in that formation. 

There's something about this product that reminds me of the glow-in-the-dark toilet paper. It's the same formula: novel material effect + ordinary thing = gadgety object of questionable safety.  

The paint pigments used in this varnish are the result of some serious research. I've been reading through US Patent applications related to magnetic field patterns. Paint particles such as these are engineered to have optimum length, drying time, flake shape, etc. 

All of those characteristics have been evolved by materials scientists competing for the best...nail varnish???

Unfortunately not. Although the paint has interesting decorative properties, as demonstrated here, it was originally developed for printing anti-counterfeiting elements on security documents. The scientists were backed by major companies in Japan, Switzerland and the US. 

The Lancome nail polish was released in several colours as part of their Mystery Game collection (Fall 2007), but was never re-realeased. There's a growing online demand for Lancome to bring it out again - you can join the e-mail campaign!! Think of all the crystal ball readers who would benefit from owning a bottle!

1 comment:

  1. Check out electrophoretic dyes and displays (like what is used by ePaper for the Kindle and the Nook). The patent photos for the nail polish reminds me of the tech in these displays.

    Would be lovely to see what you could create from visualizing electric fields in addition to magnetic ones.