I’ve been working in the dental industry for 10 months now and I’m still excited anytime I find a connection to cosmetics. Recently I’ve been very interested the resin-based ingredients that we use for polymer & acrylic products and after doing a little research I learned that these are also super common ingredients in many cosmetics products! So let’s get into it, shall we?
What is a Resin?
Resins are highly viscous or solid materials that can be naturally derived from plants or synthetically produced. Nearly every plant produces resin and is most frequently in response to an injury – an example is when a tree gets sliced and a hard honey-like material appears on its surface. Resins are composed of terpenes (essential oil), resin acids, resinols, resenes. Yes – the resin material produced by plants is how essential oils can be obtained! Plant resins can be distilled to separate the concentrated essential oil from the solid resin. Most commercially used resins have been distilled of their essential oils. However, historically, many tree and plant resins kept their essential oils as they were used for healing and spiritual properties by the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.
How are Resins used in Cosmetics?
The biggest appeal for modern uses of resin is their ability to be converted into polymers. A polymer is a large molecule that is composed of smaller repeating units and has a million different applications. The ability to become film-forming and protective coating agent is how resins most commonly find their way into cosmetics – nail polish being the most popular!
Resins in nail polish commonly take the form of the ingredient Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin (TSF Resin), a polymer that when combined with nitrocellulose (film former) help add flexibility, durability, reduce brittleness, and resistance to soap and water. Resins are not water-soluble and need a solvent (like acetone!!) to dissolve in. The combination of TSF Resin and nitrocellulose is the key to the shiny long-wear nail lacquer that we know today.
Okay, so How Does Dental Fit in?
Much like the use of resin polymers in nail polish, dental composites and acrylics use these polymers in restorative and adhesive fixtures. Think cavity fillings, dental composites, denture work, and surgical material. The ability to have a strong, water-resistant film forming protective ingredient is what allows so much dental work to be successful. While naturally sourced resins can be used for dental matierals, typically synthetic resins are used because they lack eugenol. Eugenol is a phenylpropanoid, a.k.a a very aromatic liquid extracted from many essential oils (remember: essential oils are extracted from resins) most commonly from cloves. However, eugenol has been shown to have adverse effects on the soft tissue in our mouth so many dental materials have been removing this substance to improve patient comfort.
Anything else I need to know?
Going back to the connection between essential oils and resins, this ingredient is very commonly used in scents, adhesives, varnishes, and therapeutic products. Resin is a raw material often used in the formulation of perfumes and incense.
I’ve just touched the surface of all the information and research out there about resins, but I hope this helped you understand how this plant ingredient has created a whole world of products with its essential oil components and polymer properties!