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What are Oligomers for LED Curable Nail Gel Coatings?

July 11, 2016 | By:

Caroline Corniello, Global Product Manager, Dymax Oligomers & Coatings

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In the last decade, nail gel coatings have become very popular in the cosmetic industry. Extremely durable, they don’t chip or break as easily as traditional lacquer nail polishes. Nail gels have traditionally been formulated to cure under broad-spectrum UV light, but the industry has taken a turn towards LED and natural light-curing nail coatings. LED-curable coatings provide significant advantages over broad-spectrum UV coatings, including faster cure times and reduced energy and maintenance costs.

The cosmetic industry is looking for oligomers to overcome common nail coating issues such as low gloss, color drift, regulatory compliance and premature chipping. Many companies are experiencing difficulty in moving to LED-cured products as a result of the high heat generated during the curing process, which can cause a burning sensation for the consumer. Furthermore, there continue to be issues with the acetone removal process.

Oligomer Products for Nail Gel Coatings

In a new study, seven Bomar® oligomers were evaluated to see if they could produce LED-curable nail gel coatings that overcome common formulation issues. The oligomers chosen for this study were selected with varying degrees of high and low glass transition temperature (Tg) and offered the following benefits: non-yellowing characteristics, high gloss and low MeHQ levels for low skin irritation. In addition, these unique oligomers have exhibited low heat generation upon cure, eliminating the burning sensation, and they are easily removed with acetone.

The complete oligomer study includes results for glass transition temperatures, viscosity and durometer hardness, acetone removability, non-yellowing, tack levels after cure, gloss of coatings after IPA wipe, heat generation during LED cure and regulatory compliance. 

An image of a nail lamp

LED-curable clear and color coats can be developed for nail gels that are sold in professional salons or to the retail market in do-it-yourself applications. All of these oligomers are INCI-registered without high cost to the customer. Using these oligomers, companies will have the capability to formulate nail gel coatings that have the desired mechanical properties and look salon-fresh for an extended period of time.


Dymax recommends BR-952, BR-541S, BRC-443D, BR-742M, BR-744BT, and XR-741MS for LED-curing nail gel coating applications. The table below lists properties that formulators may want to control during nail coating formulation:

A table with measurements

For a complete copy of this comprehensive study, visit www.dymax-oc.com/lednailgels

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