What it is: Resins in the nail industry can also be called glue, and these glues are made out of a chemical called cyanoacrylate. Cyanoacrylate is a common fast-acting adhesive that cures and hardens when exposed to moisture. It’s used today as the main ingredient in “instant glues,” which have well-known brand names like Super Glue and Krazy Glue. Cyanoacrylate was actually invented by accident in 1942 by Dr. Harry Coover. He was trying to create parts for gun-sights during WWII, but became frustrated when his new substance became stuck to everything it touched.


How it works: Cyanoacrylate is an acrylic resin, meaning it’s derived from acrylic acid, which itself is an organic compound made from propene and ethylene during the refining of petroleum. Cyanoacrylate is structured to harden when exposed to moisture. Just about every surface that glues can bond to contains some amount of moisture, and of course our air does as well, so once exposed to moisture the cyanoacrylate molecules form long chains that make a very strong plastic mesh that quickly hardens.

The chemical reaction of resins-to-moisture is in contrast to acrylic products, which harden when the monomer interacts chemically with the powders, or with gel products when the gel is exposed to UV light. This makes resins a quick and easy way to apply product to the natural nail. To make cyanoacrylate easier to handle, it is infused with other ingredients to make it more viscous and move like a gel.


How it’s used for nails: Cyanoacrylate is commonly used with nail wraps to add strength to the natural nail. The cyanoacrylate formula works well with wraps because the glue itself does not add much thickness, while firmly holding the wrap in place. The resin dries without a sticky layer so once it is set it can be buffed to a shine, polished, or have a UV top coat put on. Resins are also used to glue a tip to the natural nail. And they are used in dipping systems in tandem with an acrylic powder to add more strength and thickness to the enhancement for shaping. Soaking in acetone will break down dried cyanoacrylate.

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