9 Secret Steps to Making Your Own Custom Nail Polish

9 Secret Steps to Making Your Own Custom Nail Polish

Published by Wonder Beauty Products on Apr 30th 2023

Introduction: Formulating your own professional custom nail polish is the perfect way to express your creativity and create unique looks for yourself, your clients or for starting your own nail polish brand.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional manicurist or a DIYer – anyone can make their own custom nail polishes with just a few simple steps.

In this blog post, we’ll go through 9 steps that will help you create fabulous looking, high quality professional custom nail polishes. From choosing the right ingredients to packaging up your creations, this guide will have you making stunning custom polishes in no time!

Step 1: Choose Your Ingredients

The first step in creating your own custom nail polish is to choose the right ingredients. This includes selecting the base formula, base colorants and other colorants such as special effect pigments, glitter, mica, etc as desired.

It’s important to research each ingredient before using it in order to ensure that it is safe for cosmetic use and won't react with any of the other components of your recipe. You should also make sure that all of your colorants are FDA approved for use on nails. While the FDA in general does not regulate or approve cosmetics or their ingredients, including nail polish use, it does however regulate and list approved colorants that can be used in all cosmetics.

Step 2: Make a Prototype

Once you’ve selected all of the ingredients you’d like to test out for your creation, it’s time to add tiny drops, squirts, pinches and dashes together to see how they will play with one another.

Often you will add components together and fall in love immediately with the look. Many other times, it’s a hard pass and straight to the trash bin before you can get what you’ve envisioned just right. But, it’s ok! Remember, this is the testing phase - the time for throwing your creative ideas together in order to find your perfect masterpiece.

Tips: 1. Swatch the final prototype formula to be sure of desired opacity and adjust as needed. 2. Using tiny disposable paper mixing cups and wooden mixing sticks are a huge time-saver as well as mess-control during this often tedious throw-away experimenting process. 3. Placing the prototype in an airtight testing container away from heat and light and letting it marinate for minimum of 1 week will ensure against unwanted reactions - fading or bleeding of colors or curling of pigments and glitters.

Step 3: Perfecting and Measuring Your Prototype

You’ve mixed a perfect “dry-run” prototype - now what? Time to recreate it, but this time taking note of the precise weights and measurements to make the equivalent of 1 full size (15mL) polish bottle. This is another benefit of the tiny 1 oz disposable mixing cup- at 3/4 of the way full and allowing for pour waste, it will fill a full size polish bottle nearly perfectly!

Example prototype weights & measurements:

1. 2 tsp Glitter Base

2. 10 drops Cosmetic White liquid colorant

3. 1/4 tsp glitter mix (or .50 gram)

4. 1/4 tsp Aurora Pigment (or .25 gram)

5. 1/2 tsp Mica Base

  • Makes (1) full size polish bottle
  • Pinch the side of the disposable mixing cup to create a pour spout and pour all contents into the polish bottle.
  • Place mixing ball, cap and brush to seal.
  • Name and label your creation.
  • Make a physical and digital recipe card.

Step 4: Making Bulk Batches

Once you’ve created and tested a final polish formula you're happy with and ready to fill multiple bottles, it’s time for bulk conversion. You should use gram and ounce scales for small and medium batches and disposable measuring cups depending on what type of ingredient you are using – some need to be measured by weight (example dry pigments and components as some can become clumped and packed causing gross batch variations) while others can be measured by volume (for example, liquid bases and colorants). Make sure that all measurements are accurate to ensure consistent results every time as batch variations can be a nightmare!

Converting your 1 polish bottle recipe to a bulk batch is simple. Multiply the measurements and weights for making 1 polish by the number of polishes you wish to make and note the total amounts. Add all ingredients to a mixing container that is solvent proof.  We suggest durable graduated paper mixing containers for small to medium batches up to 32 ounces. If they are not graduated, you can mark the outside with a sharpie where the batch volume should be. Tip: Pre-filling a container with water and weighing it will establish a perfect volume line. Use this for future reference. 

Example: Let’s say you have a party or trade event that you hypothetically need to make 32 polishes for. Your 1 bottle recipe is 15 mL or .50 Oz. Take .50 Oz times 32 or .5 x 32 = 16. This example dictates a 16 Oz batch. After adding all dry components, add the liquids last and fill to the indicated batch ounce line. Note: Keep in mind there will always be container and pour waste that generally amounts to 15% loss so be sure to make adjustments accordingly.

Step 5: Mixing Ingredients

The next step is to mix together all of your pre-measured ingredients until they form a homogenous mixture. This may require stirring by hand or using an electric hand mixer. A small handheld drill with paint mixing attachment works great! It is best to first add all dry ingredients together and moderately wet them with nail polish thinner (to a dry wet-sand consistency) and gently hand-mix in order to break up clumps as well as helping to achieve the perfect consistency of the formula.

Always use solvent proof and non-coated mixing containers and tools as many plastics and colors will melt and disintegrate right before your eyes and into your perfect formula, potentially ruining it! Make sure not to over-mix as this could cause air bubbles which could affect the finished product's appearance and performance once applied to nails.  Also remember not mix too quickly in order prevent splashing any liquids onto yourself or surfaces nearby. Tip: Protect yourself, your clothing and work area. Mix in a well ventilated area, wear a mask or respirator, and goggles to protect lungs and eyes, wear a lab coat or coveralls, protect work areas such as tables, floors, walls, etc with protective coverings.

Step 6: Test Your Batch Mixtures

Before pouring out your mixture into its final bottles, it is important test it out first so that you can assess its quality and make any necessary adjustments if needed to the bulk batch before committing it into its final form. To do this simply apply some of the mixture onto your own nails or nail swatch sticks and wait until dry before assessing its color payoff and texture when dried down completely. These are two key factors which will determine how successful the finished product will look when applied onto nails! If there is something about the mixture which isn't quite right then now would be the time adjust or amend accordingly by tweaking ratios etc., rather than having problems further down line when applying onto actual nails.

Step 7: Pour Into Bottles

Once satisfied with how well testing has gone pour remaining contents using natural condiment squirt bottles carefully into final polish bottles or store the remaining batch in airtight containers. For best results select bottles and containers specifically designed for storing nail polishes, but alternatively clean glass jars (like canning jars) can also work well too. Make sure they have secure lids or tops so none of the solvents evaporate during storage. Tip: If storing batches in glass canning jars, lining the tops with parchment paper will prevent the lids from becoming glued shut from the nail polish.

Step 8: Label, Date and Container Storage

For easy identification later down line label each bottle and storage container clearly stating the name of polish plus date made. Store in a safe cool dry place away from heat, flame, sunlight, children and pets. Fun Fact: Nail polish has no shelf life. Bacteria cannot grow in the solvents and thus requires no expiry date!

Step 9: Package Up Finished Product

Now comes the fun part - packaging up your masterpiece! Get ready to show the world and proudly showcase or display your creations on your website, social media, in your salon or shop window or whatever the case may be!

Always choose aesthetically appealing packaging that represents you or your brand image using suitable bottles, labels, boxes, bags, decorations and ribbons. Whatever tickles your fancy, there's no limit to the many options that will set you apart from your competitors and capture the hearts of your customers. Enjoy playing around and see what works best for you!

And finally don't forget include instructions for use detailing special application advice or anything else you think is pertinent information to help your customers get most out of their purchase.


Congratulations! You’ve begun your journey to make your very own professional looking custom nail polish by following these nine simple yet effective steps outlined above. We hope you enjoy the adventure and found this article both helpful and useful. Good luck and enjoy!

Sample Recipes: (coming soon)

Cherry Red Creme

Cake Batter Glitter Bomb

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you make custom nail polish colors?

Yes, absolutely! It is now easier than ever to make custom nail polish colors with so many professional ingredients available today. From raw base material to special effects colorants and pigments, the options are endless!

2. How can I make my own nail polish?

Easy - Just read up on some simple mixing steps and with the right ingredients, you can make virtually anything you can imagine!

3. How much does it cost to make your own nail polish?

The cost to make your own nail polish depends on how much you wish to make and the ingredients you plan on using. For a beginner, it is safe to say a nail polish supplier can put a starter kit together for less than $40.

4. How to make fancy nail polish?

Fancy nail polish can be made by using certain special effect pigments and ingredients such as shimmers, holographics, multichromes, glitters, or a combination thereof!

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