Students invent a date-rape detecting nail polish!

Four male engineering students from North Carolina State University have invented a nail varnish that can detect date rape drugs. If a women is wearing the nail polish she can […]


Four male engineering students from North Carolina State University have invented a nail varnish that can detect date rape drugs.

If a women is wearing the nail polish she can dip her finger in her drink and if it detects the drugs: Rohypnol, Xanax or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate it will change colour, alerting the wearer to the danger.

The inventors of 'Undercover Colors'. K50 startup runners up

The inventors of ‘Undercover Colors’. K50 startup runners up

Known as Undercover Colors, they state on their Facebook page that they are the “first fashion company working to prevent sexual assault”. When asked about their motivations, the students said that they wanted to empower women to protect themselves. They then go on to say:

In the U.S 18% of women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. That’s almost one out of every five women in our country. We may not know who they are, but these women are not faceless. They are our daughters, they are our girlfriends, and they are our friends

They also mentioned that they hoped just getting the nail polish out there would help deter potential date rapists.

However, despite their positive intentions, the group has received criticism from feminist and anti-sexual assault groups. The nail polish has been accused of giving a false sense of security for women, as there is no proof that it can definitely prevent sexual assault.

Although raising awareness of sexual assault involving students, it may also be seen as placing more demands on women, as well as reinforcing victim blaming. Some may see this nail varnish as just another way to adapt to rape culture. The Guardian’s Jessica Valenti wrote:

We should be trying to stop rape, not individually avoid it.

The company has received approximately £70,000 in investment and grants and say their next challenge is to make the product commercially available.

When Southampton Feminist Society was asked about this new product, Zoë Lampshire told the Soton Tab:

In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to worry about this kind of thing but unfortunately we do, and I think anything that helps keep people safe is a good thing.

However, Paul Wood said:

Doesn’t do anything to detect drinks being ‘spiked’ with more potent alcohols. Doesn’t apply when most sexual assaults & rapes at committed by people the women know. Also, if it got popular then the arseholes would just move to different drugs.

What do you think? Is it an innovative new product or just a way to shift responsibility on to women? Let us know in the comments.