DIY Customizable Nail Polish

While I certainly can’t remember the last time I wore nail polish, I came across a great DIY gift for friends and family. Upon moving in with my housemates this year, I presented them with two gifts: Mini soaps bought from a local store in Newport, RI and almost-homemade DIY nail polishes of an assortment of colors. Both gifts were rather cheap since they were, well, mini, but their appearance is part of what makes them cute!

Ever wanted to know how long is too long? This graphic makes finding the answer oh-so-easy! Image from

Makeup-oriented people have been talking about shelf life for makeup products and, let me tell you, many of my eyeshadows have been sitting in my bathroom cabinet way longer than their shelf-life calls for. (In case you were wondering, shelf life for eyeshadow powders is two years.) Maybe you can relate. Hey, perhaps you once bought an eyeshadow palette but only used a few colors or maybe you received makeup as a gift but you never used it because none of the colors really suited you. If there’s anything owning lots of old eyeshadows has taught me, it’s that I’m definitely the type of girl to buy maybe a few colors that I absolutely know will look good on me and never really use any of the other colors. Rather than just toss out everything that expired into the trashcan, I thought of a better way to repurpose my powder eyshadows: Turn them into nail polishes!

The concept of using eyeshadow to tint clear nail polish isn’t new. It isn’t the latest craze. Therefore, think of this post as more of a review of my experience making these DIY nail polishes.

Old Elizabeth Arden Eyeshadows, circa 2008 or so. Scary.
Old Elizabeth Arden eyeshadows, circa 2008 or so. Scary how long they’ve kept, eh?

Here’s what I used:

  • One or more bottles of cheap clear drugstore nail polish (it doesn’t have to be cheap, but I wanted to make enough for my housemates)
  • A plastic air-tight container to store your new polish in if you plan to make multiple colors from one bottle of nail polish. I bought little circular ones at the Container Store for $0.99 each.
  • Toothpicks for stirring
  • Old powder eyeshadow. For me, I used old Urban Decay and Elizabeth Arden eyeshadows.

Take the powder eyeshadow color of choice and put it in your container. Crush it up as much as possible with your toothpick to avoid globs of eyeshadow when you pour the clear polish on top. I had fun experimenting adding bits of gold to dark blue as well as mixing different shades of pink. Have fun with this step! Also note in my photo below how much powder I ended up putting into a tiny container. This made the nail polish come out opaque so if that’s what you’re looking for, keep adding the powder eyeshadow! For using a drugstore-sized bottle of clear polish, I’d strongly suggest using even more powder than I did since the volume of clear nail polish is much greater than in my little containers.

Here, I’ve mixed a few shades of pink, purple, and white together before adding the clear nail polish.

f you plan to make multiple colors like I did, pour a bit of the clear nail polish into your little container but don’t make it too full! You’ll be adding powder eyeshadow and stirring. If you add too much clear nail polish, you’ll just end up making a mess. (Whoops.)  Alternatively, you can use one bottle of clear nail polish per color and simply add the powder eyeshadow directly into the bottle. If you do go this route, definitely try a funnel to prevent the powder from going everywhere.

Now, stir, stir, stir with your toothpick! Try and make it so that the powder eyeshadow and clear nail polish (although no longer clear) are homologous. Adding the liquid (clear nail polish) made the shade of eyeshadow I was working with darker.  If you’re stirring in the nail polish bottle, the brush may be a good way to go since you don’t want to loose your toothpick in the bottle.

Four mini nail polishes all ready to go!

Overall, I made gold, pink, deep blue, and dark purple polishes.  My housemates loved them (at least I think)! The downside to putting the polishes into their own containers is the lack of a nail polish brush. Since I didn’t make a batch for myself, I’m not quite certain of the shelf life and/or how long it will be until the nail polish dries out on its own. Still, if you know people that constantly update their nails, this little gift would be perfect for them (or yourself)! The process of making these wasn’t long at all, maybe 5 minutes tops per color. I strongly recommend this DIY project to anyone who has leftover eyeshadows lying around!


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