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This Nail Varnish Could Save Your Life

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Photographed by Dan McCoy.
Drink spiking is still a problem and is sadly something that many of us will experience during a night out. But a new nail polish that can detect so-called date rape drugs, due to launch next year, could help us protect ourselves.

Drink spiking involves drugs, such as Rohypnol and ketamine, being added to someone's drink without their knowledge. Symptoms range from lowered inhibitions to unconsciousness, which may lead to a victim being sexually assaulted.

Nail-tech company Undercover Colors has developed a polish that enables the wearer to detect whether their drink has been spiked by swirling their finger in their drink.

If their drink contains drugs, the nail varnish will change colour.

The media first went into a frenzy over the nail polish in 2014, when details of the idea emerged. But after receiving a reported $5.5m worth of investment, the company finally hinted on Facebook that the product could be just months away.


The company was founded by four male engineering students from North Carolina State University in the U.S., who wanted to help their female friends stay safe while dating and in bars.

"1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime," write the founders on their website.

"This unthinkable problem has reached epidemic levels on college campuses. And something must be done about it. Power must be handed back to women in what is a devastatingly powerless situation."

While Undercover Colors has been criticised as potentially encouraging victim blaming ("If you weren't wearing your special nail polish, what did you expect?"), it's not purporting to completely combat rape culture.

It will, at least, raise awareness of the drink spiking epidemic and could offer some women (probably not all) peace of mind on a night out.
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