Mixing Your Own Polish

Have you ever searched high and low for the perfect shade of nail polish? You see it in your head, but nothing you buy is good enough? You may need to try creating your own polish. Mixing your own polish or, frankening, is really fun and can save you a lot of money. Geez, that was a total infomercial pitch. 🙂 Anyway, here’s how to start mixing your own polishes.
What you’ll need:

  • Mixing balls. These will help your polishes mix easily and save you a lot of time. Mixing balls are especially necessary if you are going to use pigments or glitters. Even after you’ve mixed them thoroughly, they will settle eventually.  You can buy BBs from a variety of places. Stainless steel BBs are best because they will not react with your polish in anyway, unlike other metals like zinc. I buy my mixing balls from eBay for a very affordable price. Also, if you empty out a polish bottle, remember to save those mixing balls for future use.
  • Bottles. You need something to put your creation in, of course. You can buy empty polish bottles in a variety of sizes from online suppliers or in some beauty supply stores. A cheaper alternative, though, is to clean out old bottles of polish and reuse those. Top and base coat bottles work are perfect, especially since we go through those much more quickly than a bottle of polish. You can also empty out unused polishes. If there is a polish that is not salvageable, you can just dump the polish out and clean the bottle and brush with acetone. Remember to save those balls! I dispose of the polish and acetone solution by dumping it on a folded paper towel and then leaving it outside to evaporate. After the polish evaporates, you should be left with a paper towel with dried bits of polish, which is fine to toss.
  • Note cards. Or anything else you’d like to use to keep track of what you’re adding. It’s always so disappointing to make a small batch of a polish, use it up, and then have no idea how to recreate it. Labels that you can stick directly onto your polish bottles would work too, as long as your recipe isn’t too involved.

  • An artist’s palette. Before you mix an entire of bottle polish, you should probably test out a small batch on a palette to see if your idea is even something you’d like to move forward with. Palettes are very cheap and can be found at art supply stores. If you have any nail wheels lying around, you can use the wells of the nails and the center of the wheel to mix colors.
  • Color wheel. This is totally optional, but I like to keep a color wheel handy to help me decide what colors I need to mix in when tweaking a polish. It really does come in handy.

Once you have the materials you need, the rest is easy. You can use nail art glitter, loose eye shadows, cosmetic pigments, different shades of polish, etc. You may have to experiment with different types of glitter because some don’t react well in polish and will bleed or melt, ruining your polish. I have had luck with MAC Glitter Brilliants and Reflects Glitter holding up very well in polishes.
Just a few extra tips:

  • Plan ahead. What do you want the base color of your polish to be? What about the finish? Having a plan of attack can save you from ending up with a muddy mess of a polish. Honestly though, it’s pretty hard to mess up a bottle of polish. If you don’t like where it’s heading, just add a different color (here’s where the color wheel comes in handy) until you are happy.
  • Funnels are your friends. If you’re using a loose pigment or glitter and are having trouble getting it into the polish, use a funnel. Plastic funnels are super cheap and easy to come by, or you can make your own with a piece of paper and some tape.
  • Swatch! Swatch on paper or nail wheels as you mix to make sure you’re going in the right direction. I like to swatch after every new color/glitter I add, just to make sure I won’t end up with something completely different than I hoped for.

Most importantly, remember to have fun and be creative. Think of a cool combination you’d like to have and try to create it. If there’s a discontinued polish you missed out on, try creating your own. The possibilities are endless.

I’ll leave you with my latest franken, Cosmic Romance: