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​Lacquerheads: An intro to frankening

Anyone that knows me for more than an hour usually finds out that I'm a bit nuts about nail polish. It's hard to explain why, especially since I'm not fussy about anything else in my life. I'll stuff my hair under a cap and go out without a lick of makeup on, and I've been known to hit up Target in my slippers, but by god, my nails are going to be pretty.

This obsession has lead to me having quite a few nail polishes. I'd count them, but I don't think I really want to delve into that level of shame at the moment. Let's just say I have a few boxes filled with lacquer.


When you collect that many, you start running into issues. You pick up a polish that isn't quite what you thought it would be. You find yourself pining for a jelly of a certain color. You wish a color had a bit more shimmer. You desire glitter.

Frankening scratches that itch.

What is frankening?

Frankening is mixing two or more nail polishes together. That's it. Yes, it's a play on Frankenstein, but with less grave robbing.

Some people do it just to do it, while others do it to recreate a polish that's impossible to find now. I tend to do it to rescue myself from owning a meh polish. My stash space is limited, so I need every square inch I can get!

What do you need?

If you're interested in frankening, I highly recommend getting some equipment. Happily, said equipment is cheap!


You'll need:

  • Tiny funnels (I get the cheapest I can find so I don't feel bad about pitching them after a while)
  • Mixing balls
  • Empty jars (you can use cleaned out nail polish jars, but I like to keep a few empty ones around)
  • Nail polishes!
  • Shimmer, glitter, and pigment (all optional)
  • Base coat (watch for sales. The Ulta and Sephora brands go on sale cheap a few times a year)

My favorite place to find many of these things is on Etsy. There, there's tons of kits as well as options to pick up just one or two things. I got started through a kit on Etsy, and though I now get my jars, balls, and funnels from Amazon, I still go back to Etsy shops to get the pretty stuff.

Some combos


There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to frankening. It does help to know some basic recipes, though.

Jelly: One quarter cream polish, three quarters clear base. If the cream polish is really opaque, you might get away with even less. I'd start by playing with the ratio in the first half of the bottle, the topping off once you know how much you need to water the creme down.


Glitter: I've learned to add the glitter first, and to add way less than I think I need. I usually go with a half-teaspoon, but leave some space at the top of the jar, just in case I need to add a bit more.

If you're doing a glitter, it might be a good idea to add some suspension gel. I go with a ratio of 1:3 suspension gel to everything else in the polish. It's not necessary, though. You'll just have to shake your polish more.


Jelly sandwich: You can get a great look by combining a jelly and glitter. You just have to make sure that the jelly isn't too opaque. Too thick, and you can't see the layers of glitter within. I usually go with a half-teaspoon of glitter, one-quarter creme, one-quarter suspension gel, and the rest clear base.


Blackened: I love to see what happens to polishes if you blacken them. I usually test this out on some wax paper, dropping a dot of black and a dot of color on the paper, then mixing with a toothpick.

I keep several black nail polishes around, because each one is going to have a different base color. True 'black' isn't often used in lacquers. Instead, it's a very, very dark green or blue or even red, and you don't realize that until your pink polish turns brown.


How much black polish it takes to blacken a polish can vary. The ratio shouldn't get much above one part black to two parts color, though.

Fun with glass fleck: I love playing around with glass flecks. Most flecks don't have a colored base, so you can combine them with colored lacquers to create neat shimmer effects. I usually start with a one to one ratio, then tinker from there. The best effect seems to be a light colored glass fleck and a dark polish.


Eyeshadow: One thing I've seen many people do is take an eyeshadow palette, break it up, then add it to a clear base to make nail polish. I'd probably only do this with cheap eye shadows, though I could see doing this to a palette where the shadow had broken up, and I didn't feel like saving it. Even better, this combo is supposed to come out matte. If you like that look, you may want to try this out.


I'm not sure about ratios, since I don't have any eyeshadow lying around to test with, but I recommend starting with a one to two powder to base ratio, then going from there.

Matte: If you like the matte look, but don't want to use the matte topcoat for some reason, you can buy matting powder to mattify your cremes.


Oh yeah: Don't forget the mixing balls. That goes for all of these.

Some warnings and tips

Garbage in, garbage out. If you use crappy nail polish, you will probably get a bad result. You don't have to throw down money for the really high-end stuff, but if you're going to start picking up the two dollar polishes, Google them first. Some are winners. Some are proof that God hates us and wants us to be sad.


If you're adding glitter, try to add it first, and always use a bone-dry funnel. I ruined a funnel because I was too eager to add some more glitter.

Your clear base shouldn't be a quick dry top coat. I tried this once, and it ended in a really weird formula that shrunk and winkled.


Watch out for those little balls! They come out unexpectedly, and they get stuck in the funnels half the time. A toothpick can dislodge them, going from the bottom up, but it can be messy.

Finally, you might want to invest in some sample nail sticks. They're great for testing out formula and opacity.


Now go! Make some new polishes and share them with us!

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