Ingredients in Essie nail polish include ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, propyl acetate and tosylamide/formaldehyde resin. Other ingredients are Isopropyl alcohol, trimethyl pentanyl diisobutyrate, triphenyl phosphate, ethyl tosylamide and camphor.
Both ethyl acetate and butyl acetate are solvents typically found in nail polish and other nail care products. Alone, the two chemicals are clear and contain a fruity scent. Propyl acetate is a similar solvent with an odor characteristic of pears. Nitrocellulose helps nail polish form a film and adhere to the nail. Nitrocellulose adds durability, toughness and solubility to the nail polish.
Nail polish manufacturers add tosylamide/formaldehyde resin to change the nitrocellulose so that it is shiny in addition to being tough and durable. The addition of tosylamide/formaldehyde resin also makes the finished veneer less brittle. Trimethyl pentanyl diisobutyrate and ethyl tosylamide are similar additives in that they add flexibility to the polymers in the nail polish.
Triphenyl phosphate is a crystalline solid used to further increase the flexibility and durability of the nail polish and to improve how the polish adheres to the nail. Camphor is also a crystalline solid. It is added to soften the synthetic polymers in the polish.
Isopropyl alcohol is a fast-evaporating alcohol. It decreases the thickness of the polish and reduces the tendency for the polish to foam when it is shaken.