Even as a custom color analyst, I still end up with colored products that aren’t quite right. Case in point: a few months ago I bought a dusky pink polish that seemed amazing in the store when I tested it (near a big window with a few regular light bulbs on a high ceiling). But at home in full daylight, it was the teensiest bit too cool and it bugged me. I was so so SO close! I almost owned a pink nail polish I’d wear!!! For those of you who don’t know, pink is a really tricky color on me to get right.
Then, out the other day, I saw a brownish-golden-plum metallic and instantaneously knew it would perfect that pink. At home, I added a few drops and…MY DESIRED PINK!!! But now I had practically that whole bottle of the newly purchased color. What could I do with it? It was rather blah on me alone. At the time of impulse buy, I hadn’t thought beyond righting the pink but now I had practically the whole bottle left. I despise clutter and excess, and it suddenly weighed down on me that while i had corrected an earlier polish to a state of TRUE LOVE, now I had another bottle that was just going to sit there, in my medicine cabinet, with three other imperfect polishes. Wait, wait, wait: IDEA!!! I ran to get two of those three. They beckoned for experimentation.
One was a very light, neutral pink. It was, I thought, a nice shade for a nude nail on me, until I actually applied the three coats needed to get this runny formula looking smooth and then, fully opaque, it was far too light for my eyes to stand. The other was a dark purple that I bought assuming it’d be fine (dark purple is an area I have lots of wiggle room in) but applied it was actually dark magenta which- agh- was too pink! Morals of this paragraph: test nail polish not just for color but also for viscosity and don’t leap to ANY assumptions about color in a bottle.
The middle golden brown plum is the bottle I purchased to tweak the pink polish. The two bottles that flank it are the earlier mistakes.
I was really, really happy with my results, which is why I’m writing this now. It turns out you don’t actually need to hunt and hunt and hunt for the perfect nail polish color, you can mix your own!!!
See how nicely my new colors match the fabric swatches in my personal palette?
To do this, working in daylight hours, in a room with REALLY good ventilation, you’ll need:
- your unloved nail polishes (not including those with chunky glitter of an offending color – the glitter can’t change color)
- small paper cups for mixing – the smaller they are the less polish you’ll lose coating the cups
- aluminum foil to cover your work area, and to test tiny mixtures out on
- nail polish remover and cotton pads – to wipe the necks of bottles and clean off your fingernails as you test out potential colors
- something for mixing – I used the blunt end of bamboo skewers (not the pointy end which might rip the foil)
- your personal palette nearby but out of harm’s way (or if you don’t yet have a palette, have some idea of if the color needs to be warmed up, lightened, darkened, cooled down, etc)
- possibly some of your loved nail polish colors
As you mix small amounts of colors on the foil, figure out approximate ratios of how much of one color you want with another. If it’s just the tiniest of amounts, pour that directly into the bottle with the almost perfect color to minimize wastage. If you need to mix colors in larger quantities, use the cups but play around on the foil for a while first to come up with a basic game plan. You’ll want to ensure the textures meld nicely and the result is of good viscosity. Mix really, really well.
Test potential mixtures out on your nails. Next, compare to your palette! If the color doesn’t look like it blends in, ask yourself, what does this color need more of? You may find you want to add a bit of color that you have in your loved polishes.
Speaking of love, If you’re thrilled with a new formula you’ve created be sure to use a sharpie and write on the bottle’s label what you mixed in! Also, if your nail polishes have those tiny metal balls in them, spread them between final polishes rather than letting all fall back into one bottle. They’re great for helping you really mix the color in the bottle with the polish that’s still sticking to the sides.
Enjoy your collection of nail polishes that perfectly harmonize with YOU! To learn more about choosing makeup once you have a personal palette (that includes your skin tones) read this post, here, where I give my mom a makeover for her 70th.
My nail polish collection including the ‘corrected’ colors with my personal palette. I have one more polish not shown – my perfect blush tone color, which I found at the same time as the golden brown plum color, and which needs no tinkering whatsoever. It hid off camera behind the perfected pink and I didn’t notice it when taking photos. Sorry! My collection, with these new additions, is complete!
Now my only remaining unloved polish is a gorgeous teal blue glitter. The color is great, the texture is fine…but the thing STAINS my nails even with two base coats. Unless any of you lovely readers have a better idea (do you?), I’m going to use it to paint dried out pine cones for holiday decor later this year!!!
Excellent post! I am so nail polish obsessed this was right up my alley!
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