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How to Make DIY Glitter Nail Polish

Updated on October 21, 2012


You can totally make your own nail polish

Nail polish is a big deal right now. Big brand nail polish companies are all coming out with more lines, more colors, more textures and more finishes than ever before,and nail art is not just for nail tech students and cute Japanese girls anymore! Sometimes all these fabulous new nail polishes are perfectly affordable, but a lot of the time, the really interesting things can be more than you want to pay for a single bottle.

But did you know you can make your own? Here are a few ways how.

Add glitter to your own nail polish

This is the first step, the thing that started the whole Frankenpolish movement. If you have a color you like, but it's not sparkly enough, or it's a little dull or ordinary, you can instantly make it more interesting just by adding glitter.

  • Use solvent-resistant glitter, like those meant for use in soapmaking, or the ones meant for use in paint or laquer or, if money is less of an issue, the ones meant for fancy-schmancy scrapbooking like Martha Stewart's
  • OR use glitter that is a similar color to the base you're putting it in so that if it bleeds, it won't make the base muddy or ugly

You can choose whatever size of glitter you like.

  • Small glitter, like microfine, or ultrafine will give you a sparkle, more like the ones usually found in commercial nail polishes
  • Bigger glitters will make more of a statement, but will make the finished product much more...textured. A thick layer of topcoat will probably be needed on these.

All you really need is your basic nail polish or clear polish with a little space in the bottle, and anywhere from a pinch to maybe an eighth of a teaspoon of your glitter. You might need to make a funnel out of curled up paper to get it into the bottle. Then, shake up the bottle and use the polish as usual!


  • If the polish is on the thin side, or if it doesn't have anything suspended in it already, the glitter will drift down to the bottom if you let it sit; just shake it up again before you use it next time.
  • Really big glitter is hard to paint on to the nail and may require you to sort of scoop up the glitter and place it where you want it, then smooth out the nail with topcoat.
  • Really opaque nail polish might need to be thinned out to let the glitter show; just cut it with clear nail polish until it shows up the way you want.

Make your own glitter polish from scratch

If you're totally enamored of the idea, and you want to take your polish to the next level, you can make your own polish from scratch. It's a little more involved, but that's mostly from the gathering-of-supplies side of it. You'll need:

  • Glitter suspension polish base
  • Glitter

And if you're really adventurous, or if you want to make a lot at a time, you can invest in any or all of these:

  • Micas and liquid polish pigments to add color
  • Stir sticks -- lollypop sticks, or orange wood sticks like those meant for pushing back cuticles
  • Funnels and syringes for getting things together cleanly
  • Something to protect your table
  • Nail swatch sets for testing out the color on something other than your own nails
  • Paper face masks so you don't breathe in a lot of glitter or mica
  • Your own bottles, available in a number of shapes or sizes from various nail supply and science supply shops
  • Stainless steel mixing beads to put in the bottles
  • Special-effects -- the micro-glitter pigments used in car pain, glow in the dark pigments, flakies, shaped glitter, and whatever else you can think of to put in a base

The mixing goes about the same way as it does with the previous example. If you want to use the pigments, just add a teeny bit at a time--a little goes a long way, literally, and if you add too much it'll be a gluey mess instead of a nail polish, and it'll be brittle, lumpy and ugly. If that happens, thin it out with more of the clear base.

If you want to make it in bulk, to sell or for gifts, you should keep track of how you're making it and what the final product looks like so you can recreate it, like writing a recipe.

If you want to sell it, you can set up a shop on Etsy, and you can get cute labels and boxes and things, but remember that it's the quality of the nail polish that makes or breaks the business!

Inspirations for nail polish

You can get inspirations anywhere, really.

  • Some people set out to recreate super-expensive brands they want
  • Some people take the color schemes of favorite shows, books, movies or games and make polishes out of that
  • Some people make polishes based on favorite songs, places, people, events, or arts
  • Some people make ones for holidays or gatherings

There is literally no limits to what you can make a polish for or out of except the limit of your own imagination!

Examples: My indie polish line Incidental Twin

I started an Etsy shop of my own once I'd been messing around with making polish for almost a year, and I have lines based on Firefly and Doctor Who, and for Halloween and Thanksgiving up for sale now.

You can find it here:

If you set up a shop, pricing is entirely up to you, but remember it has to be high enough to not only replace your supplies, but also to make enough profit to allow you to expand your lines!

Incidental Twin's Polish Sets



Submit a Comment

  • abrodech profile image

    Anya Brodech 4 years ago from 130 Linden St, Oakland, California, 94607

    Oh wow that's really impressive! You know your stuff! Congrats on selling your own nail polish!

  • followthestray profile image

    Samantha Harris 4 years ago from New York

    Honestly, I love glitter polish so much I can't believe I haven't thought about this. Thanks for inspiring me!