Acrylates (methyl methacrylate, poly(methyl methacrylate) )
I was curious what methyl methacrylate and poly(methyl methacrylate) were doing in a foundation. So, I dove deeper into the acrylates as subject of today. Please bear with me until the end when I try to make “an educated guess” about the use of these acrylates in beauty.
Last Tuesday, I wrote about acrylamide, bisacrylamide and polyacrylamide. Acrylamide and bisacrylamide are used to create polyacrylamide for a technique calles SDS-PAGE (sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis). It is an example of an acrylate, because the acrylamide and bisacrylamide form bonds to create the polymer, resulting in a sponge like texture. This technique is mainly used to study and seperate proteins based on weight. Acrylamide is a neuro-toxin (it gets on your nerves – literaly) so you never want to touch it with your bare hands. Although the gel should be used with caution, it is still the golden standard in the research fields.
But now we are going to take a look at methyl methacrylate and poly(methyl methacrylate). Both substances are acrylates. To give you a clear understanding: poly(methyl methacrylate) is mostly refered to as plexiglass.
Poly(methyl methacrylate) is made from methyl methacrylate. Because manufacturers can never guarantee that all the methyl methacrylate has reacted and ‘changed’ itself to poly(methyl methacrylate), they have to list the ingredient as well. The red dots in the picture above indicates the place where the double bond between two carbon atoms (indicated by = ) opens, and creates another bond with a carbon atom from another methyl methacrylate molecule.
Methyl methacrylate is mostly used in total hip and knee replacements. It is used as the “glue” to fix the bone insterts to the bone. It reduces the post-operative pain, but it has a finite lifespan of about 20 years. Therefore, methacrylate is mostly used for the elderly (in younger patiënts, cementless inserts are used).
Poly(methyl methacrylate) is known as plexiglass, lucite, optix and perspex (depending on the manufacturer). It is used as a glass substitute in for instance, those huge aquariums in a zoo, because it can withstand the pressure of the water more easily than glass. Other uses include medical implants and plastic optical fibers (like the cable which you might use to connect your computer with the internet).
It is not surprising that poly(methyl methacrylate) might be used in nailpolish, because nailpolish consist of polymers to make a thin and yet durable layer (although that is a point of discussion – Chanel, with high prices, never seems to last an entire day on my nails). Also, acrylates are used in hair gel or wax, as a fixative.
But what could it’s purpose be in a foundation or a concealer?
The most logical thing that I’ve come across are the acrylic paints. Acrylic paint is an pigment suspension in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints can be diluted with water, and become water-resistant when dry. Depending on the amount of dilution (the amount of water added) or modified, the finished painting can resemble a watercolor or an oil painting.
Although I wasn’t the best one in art class (my art teacher advised me not to pursue a career in art), I do remember that acrylic paints didn’t have a cream consistency like the Ben Nye foundation or concealer I reviewed last week. However, it is possible that the acrylates in that product provide a water resistant film, or at least makes sure that the product is waterproof. Since the foundation is for oily/combined skin, it could cause some trouble: the oil of the skin (sebum) can’t go anywhere because of the film and perhaps clog pores and cause pimples. My advise would be to thoroughly clean your face after using the products, perhaps even with a waterproof makeup cleanser.
However, you shouldn’t be worried about the safety of the product. A few atoms more or less can make a huge difference in the world of chemistry.
I hope this article is clear and it answers your questions (I had some myself as well), otherwise there’s always the comment box below to ask one.
Until next time,