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Undercover Colors Nail Polish: Why Detecting Date Rape Drugs Isn't That Easy

Date rape warnings are given again and again to college girls. The moment women step foot on campus, that seems to be the first caution given. With date rape so prevalant, especially at universities, it's wonderful that a preventative method comes from that culture. Four undergrads, Ankesh Madan, Stephen Gray, Tasso Von Windheim, and Tyler Confrey-Maloney, created Undercover Colors, a nail polish that changes color when it reacts to certain date rape drugs. Could this polish work as well as they say it can?

Undercover Colors: A clear topcoat that goes over any nailUndercover Colors: A clear topcoat that goes over any nail The short answer is no, at least according to chemists in the field. Undercover Colors nails is a clear polish that you can paint over other colors or your bare nail. After stirring your drink with your finger, the polish would change color if it detected Rohypnol, Xanax or GHB. The idea sounds great, but scientists claim that the chemical test used by the polish is often inaccurate. It fails to detect the drugs it should, and it turns up false positives when it should not. 

Even if these drugs did not exist, date rape would still happen. Alcohol is the number one associated drug with date rape, and many critics of Undercover Colors point out that these drugs are rare for date rape. Only 3% of urine samples contained these drugs. Still, if this polish did work better one day, that would be a group of women very thankful to have Undercover Colors. Just because it isn't an end-all solution doesn't mean it isn't valuable.

One final concern raised with this product is that it targets women as the bearers of responsibility. Critics claim that date rape scenarios could quickly turn to "Well, why wasn't she wear Undercover Colors? She could've prevented the rape. She could've saved herself." The real responsibility falls on the one committing the crime. The inventors were trying to help women, and shifting the blame was never their intention. They said, “Our goal is to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime." Society should be encouraging products such as these, rather than tearing them down.

Undercover Colors Team: Courtesy NewsweekUndercover Colors Team: Courtesy Newsweek

While this product is not fail proof yet, and preventing date rape isn't as easy as wearing a new nail polish, Undercover Colors is going somewhere. One day, this could be a real preventive product. If you would like to support the cause, you can visit their site and donate

For other blogs and beauty and fashion innovations, check out my blogroll. 

Sources: The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Daily Dot

Alicia Zuberbier
Beauty and Fashion Innovations
InventorSpot.com

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