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Makeup Wars DIY Edition, How to Make Your Own Nail Polish

This week’s Makeup Wars is one I am pretty excited about. It is all do it yourself, aka DIY, beauty items! I had been meaning to write about my experiments with making nail polish, and this presented a great opportunity to do so. There are several ways you can make your own polish, ranging from super easy to only moderately difficult. Even at its most difficult, it still is pretty darn easy.  I’m going to explain three different levels of polish making.

DIY Glitter Nail Polish

Pictured: a simple mix of TKB Glamour base and a variety of color safe glitter. Applied over CND Vinylux Torpix. (See the original post on this here)

Before we get started, I buy all of my DIY nail polish supplies from 4 companies: TKB Trading Company, The Conservatorie, Coastal Scents, and Glitter Unique. So there are the links for when I reference things later on. Now onto the ways you can make your own nail polish!

(1) The super easy method: Want a polish to match your eye shadow?  Grab a bottle of cheap clear polish from the drugstore (the dollar store is great for this), scrape some of your eyeshadow into it, and shake well. It seriously is that easy! The pigments in the shadow will tint the polish.  If it looks too matte after you apply it, put a coat of clear polish on top. If you don’t want to mess up your good shadows, buy some cheap palettes from BH Cosmetics, which has tons of good pigment shades for super cheap. If you want to make just a little at a time, get some small bottles from TKB or the Conservatorie. Maybe grab some stainless steel mixing beads for them too.

(2) The franken polish method: You can make your own unique nail polish shades by mixing two existing polishes, a method called frankening. You can also make fun glitter bomb polishes by adding glitter to existing polish. For this, you might want some extra supplies. You will want the following, which are pretty much a necessity for any franken polish mixes:

  • Nail polish to mix
  • Empty nail polish bottles
  • Stainless steel beads
  • Funnels or syringes
  • Color safe glitter (if you wish to make glitter polish)

Franken polish saves you the steps of using a base and adding pigments.  Instead, you can mix different shades into a fresh bottle to create a new shade. When doing this, it is good to stick with polishes from the same brands, since not all polishes play nice together. Although I have also mixed brands with no real problems.  I suggest playing with your mix in a paper cup with a few drops of each color until you get what you like, and then mix it in a greater amount into the new bottle.

Glitter for Nail Polish

If making polish with glitter, ideally you will want to buy color safe glitter. Glitter Unique is perfect for that. If your glitter is not color safe, it will bleed its color into the polish. You can add glitter to any clear polish from the drugstore, but it will likely settle over time. Shaking it will fix it back up fine. All there is to your own franken polish is grabbing some polish and having some fun creating your own mix.

Blue Nail Glitter

Pictured: A variety of blue, black, and silver glitter in TKB Glamour base tinted with blue jelly polish.  

(3) The mix your own nail polish method: The most complex method is to make your own polish using a base, pigments, and glitter. It still is pretty darn easy to do, but handling polish bases requires a well ventilated area, and you will want a good storage and work area for your glitters and pigments. Here is my work area. I keep my bases in sealed plastic bags to prevent fumes from escaping and I store my pigments and glitter in plastic storage drawers.

nail polish work area

For this, you will need the items I listed previously plus a clear base and pigments. Here is a bit more on those:

  • Base: Nail polish bases come in two forms (1) Standard and (2) Glamour. Use a standard base for polishes without glitter and use glamour base for polishes with glitter. Glitter won’t stay suspended in a standard base, so the glamour base is thicker and keeps the glitter from settling.
  • Liquid Pigments: You can buy precolored polish bases or well pigmented polishes to add to your clear base to mix colors. TKB has a number of these. They also have jelly tints, which I like to use to lightly tint the base for my glitter bombs.
  • Mineral Pigments: loose mineral pigments will make a nice polish when added to a base. If you plan to use a lot of pigment or pigments with metallics in them, you might try using a glamour base or mixing a standard and glamour base. This will help keep your pigment suspended. TKB has hundreds of pigment to choose from. Warning, buying them can get addicting! You know those duo chrome polishes that have been kind of trendy? You can buy all of the duo chrome pigments from TKB and mix your own up super easy.
  • Glitter: Glitter comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Try mixing different shapes and colors for different looks. I buy all of my glitter at glitter unique. As with pigments, buying these can get addicting!

Mixing up your polish is not very difficult. Simply start experimenting! A few tips though: (1) write down your mixes so you know what worked for you and what did not (2) add pigments in small amounts. It is easy to add more, but next to impossible to subtract from your mix (3) I prefer to make a thinner glitter bomb and apply extra coats over making one with so much glitter that it is hard to apply.  A thinner glitter polish also is more versatile. You can use one coat over a colored polish or put on multiple coats for an opaque glitter look.

DIY Nail Polish

The photo above shows from left to right:

(1) A polish made using a mineral pigment in a mix of glamour base and standard base (about 2/3 standard 1/3 glamour)

(2) Multiple sizes of silver glitter in glamour base tinted with magic mirror polish from TKB.

(3) Blue, turquoise, and silver glitter in glamour base tinted with blue jelly polish from TKB.

I like using nail wheels to see how a polish will look. From there I can tweak it as I like before committing it to my nails. So, there you have it, super easy DIY nail polish!

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