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Ask BLUSH - How To Make Nail Polish

Written by Victoria McMillin

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Posted on November 16 2021

Photo by Ashley West Edwards on Unsplash

Hey Beauties!

In our last 'Ask BLUSH' post I talked about how I got into indie nail polish and how I decided to start my own brand. (Read about it here.) After telling people how I got into indie nail polish, I often get asked questions like, "So, how do you make nail polish?" and "Don't you need a chemistry degree to do that?" The short answer to the second question is, No!

To be honest, making nail polish sounds harder than it actually is. Not that it isn't difficult at times, but I think a lot of people imagine me sitting behind a table of beakers and bunsen burners, cackling like a mad scientist and pouring chemicals together. Which is not what I do (although, I won't say that I've never cackled while making nail polish before!).

I liken making nail polish to going to a paint store and requesting a custom color. So, say that you want to paint your bedroom a lovely blush pink (because, why not?). You go to the paint store and you pull the color swatch that you like and you go to the clerk and tell them that this is the shade you want. If you've ever done this before, you know that all those gallons of paint they have sitting on the shelves aren't all pre-made colors. In fact, most of them are just the base color for the paint. Sometimes the base color is white and sometimes it's more of a clear color.

Going back to our analogy, the clerk grabs one of these base color paint gallons, looks up the recipe to make that color, pours in the allotted amounts of necessary colors to make your lovely blush pink and then puts it on the shaker for a bit to get it all mixed up. Depending on how good your clerk was at mixing, they may have got it right the first time or maybe they'll need to add a little more red to make it more pink or more black to desaturate it more to your liking.

And that is really what making nail polish looks like. Except that I don't have pre-made recipes for my colors and that is where the creativity kicks in! I'm really more of a color theorist than a chemist. I start with a pre-made suspension base and then mix different colors and pigments together until I get something that I like. I make sure to keep careful notes on my colors so that I can recreate the colors later to restock when they sell out.

Some colors are tricky to make and take a little trial and error. Others seem to come to me almost effortlessly. And sometimes, I think I'm making one color and find out that I was really making a totally different color! Some of those surprises have become some of my favorite shades (I'm looking at you, Lovestruck).

Would you like to hear more about my mixing and creating process? Let me know below!

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