Stay Close: Can you buy nail varnish that detects a spiked drink?

Does colour-changing nail varnish that detects drugs exist? (Picture: Netflix)

Netflix’s new adaptation of Harlan Coben’s thriller Stay Close dropped over the festive period. 

Without giving away any spoilers, there’s one part in particular that’s got a lot of people talking.

During a scene in a club, teenager Bea becomes suspicious that the man she and her friend are talking to, named Cartlon, may have spiked their drinks.

To see whether this is the case, she puts her finger in her drink when Carlton isn’t looking and her fingernail changes colour – indicating there’s a drug in it.

Bea then proceeds to swap the cocktails, so Carlton ends up drinking it, before ushering her friend Kayleigh out the club.

While Harlan Coben’s story is fictional, a nail varnish that detects a spiked drink sounds very familiar.

So does it actually exist?

Teenagers Bea and Kayleigh in Stay Close (Picture: Netflix)

It might ring a bell because there was talk of such a product a few years ago.

In 2018, nail-tech company Undercover Colors revealed they were developing a nail polish that can detect drugs, such as rohypnol and ketamine, that may have been added to someone’s drink without their knowledge.

Undercover Colors said if the drink contains a drug, their proposed nail varnish would change colour.

It was even reported that the company received $5.5m worth of investment to develop the product.

However, it seems the nail polish proved pretty hard to create – and never actually hit the market.

But, as an alternative, Undercover Colors has since released a detection device that works in a similar way to a pregnancy test or a lateral flow.

Roughly the size of a coin, this device can be attached to a key ring and is very easy to use. 

Anyone wanting to test their beverage simply needs to peel back the protective foil, place a drop of their drink on the sample section (you can use your finger to do this) and look for one or two lines.

One line means your drink is spiked (and you should discard it) and two lines means your drink is in the clear. Undercover Colors states these results will appear within 30 seconds to three minutes.

‘After four years in a lab, we are so excited to unveil the most effective test for detecting spiked beverages,’ the company previously wrote on Facebook. 

‘With just one drop, we give you a portable, quick and accurate way to determine the presence of commonly used date rape drugs in more than 100 liquids.’

A starter testing kit is available to buy through the Undercover Colors website, priced at $14.99 (around £11) for a three-pack – although it’s currently out of stock. But for UK shoppers this will be considerably more with shipping.

However, it could be well-worth the investment as the product has glowing reviews.

One parent wrote on the website: ‘I am so thankful we bought these for our daughter. She used them for the first time last night at a frat party, where they suspected her friend’s drink had been tampered with. It tested positive and they immediately notified security.’

Whether this test will soon come in other forms, such as nail varnish, remains to be seen.

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