Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Updated Guide to Frankening

So you've decided that it's time to make your own polish? Not satisfied with what's on the market and want to take matters into your own hands? Can't afford the latest hot color but know you've got the goods to make it yourself? Here are some tips on how you can do so!

Supplies You'll Need

Empty bottles! -

These can be made by dumping out old, yucky polishes and cleaning them out. You never want to just throw out nail polish. It's better to dump it into an old can or a paper plate and let it dry before throwing it out. Once the bottle is mostly empty, poor some pure acetone into the bottle and shake it up, rinse and repeat until the bottle is clean! Poor out old acetone on paper to let it evaporate, do not pour in your sink! Or you can buy empty bottles online at beauty supply sites, Ebay, and some brick and mortar beauty supplies carry empty bottles as well. I really like small franken bottles so that I don't have to use as much polish.


For good frankens you need good balls. Stainless steel ball bearings can be purchased from Ebay, or even from your local bike supply shop. I've used 3/16 " ball bearings quite effectively.
Do not buy zinc plated BB's! These will corrode and ruin your franken! You can also harvest balls from your old polishes! Either when you're dumping out old yucky polishes onto a paper plate you can fish them out, or by using a strong magnet, pull them up along the side and then out of the bottle. Wash with acetone.

Glitter! Updated-

The frankeners best friend and worst enemy! Glitter spices up frankens and personalizes your favorite colors. However, because nail polish is such a chemical-y substance, glitter can melt, bleed, or otherwise perish and ruin your polishes. So what to look for in a glitter? Usually the more metallic glitters are less likely to melt, whereas most iridescent or flakie glitters (like mylar) melt. A lot of frankeners have had success with polyester glitter. Hobby Lobby sells a glitter called "Polyflake" glitter, and this hasn't melted on me yet, but every glitter is different.

Glitter Suppliers (update):

Recent investigations into glitter suppliers have shown that Fishing Lure suppliers have some glitters that don't melt or bleed! Supposedly this is where a lot of independent nail polish companies get their supplies. I ordered from Lurecraft.com and bought 2 glitters, and both have survived frankening (Glitter Laser Black and Black Grape Glitter).  This site has bar glitter, square glitter, and regular glitter in different sizes.

A new supplier of frankening glitter is TKB Trading! They've been selling suspension base and micas for awhile, but due to the crazy upsurge of independent polish sellers, they've added a section just for fun shapes of glitter. I haven't ordered this glitter yet, but there are swatches on the site that make me hopeful.

Other popular glitters with frankeners are the Martha Stewart glitters. They don't melt, but some of the more pigmented ones do bleed. UPDATE: I do not recommend the Martha Stewart glitters because in general, almost all of them bleed. Save your money.

It's always a good idea to test your glitter before frankening with it. You can do this by mixing a little clear polish into a bottle cap or other container and then adding some glitter, cover it and let it sit for a few days to see if it holds up in the polish.
I find that it's safer to use polishes that already have glitter in them, art striper polishes, and things like that so that you know the glitter won't melt when you add it to your franken.

A few great places to buy glitter polishes for frankening is the Dollar Tree, Big Lots, and Ebay of course!
Dollar Tree regularly has the LA Color striper polishes for a buck, so super winner there. Big Lots occasionally has three packs of striper glitters, and a lot of time low priced Revlons. Many frankeners, including Hare polish, buy Kleancolor chunky glitter polishes to franken with. I love these glitters because they have small to large hex glitter and man different color varieties. They're very easy to find at some dollar stores and Ebay.

Pigments! -

If you want to add some spice to an existing polish without using glitter, another option is adding a pigment to your polish. This could be a mashed up eyeshadow, mineral powder, or a mica. Many sites sell loose powder pigments for creating your own cosmetics. If you decide to create your own pigment by using an eyeshadow, just make sure you smoosh it into really fine pieces so that you don't have chunks in your polish. Another method I've heard is to take your mineral powder foundation and add it to clear polish in order to make a super nude nail polish color.

Spectraflair has recently become pretty easily available, and makes a great franken ingredient! You can make your own holographic polishes now at a fraction of the cost of Ozotics or other hard to find holos. I got my Spectraflair from  MoreNailPolish's blog.

And remember to use a suspension base!

Suspension base -

Now, if you do decide to brave making a franken with loose dry glitter, it is wise to use a suspension base. Basically, glitter is heavier than regular polish, so it sinks. To make it stay suspended, you can add your loose glitter to a polish that already has glitter (a popular franken base is Confetti Tiara), or to buy a clear base made specifically thicker for holding glitter or pigments (as sold by TKB Trading).

Favorite suspension polishes:
Wet n Wild Kaleidoscope
Wet n Wild Hallucination
Confetti Tiara
Kleancolor chunky glitters


Now, nail polishes have that teeny tiny little opening in the top, how do you get all your raw ingredients inside? A funnel! This is mainly necessary with dry ingredients. When adding polishes to eachother, a funnel isn't necessary because the viscosity of the polish causes it to come out slowly and usually flow right into your other bottle.
But with dry ingredients, you definitely want something to funnel with. I am cheap. I make my own funnel by taking a strip of paper, curling it into a cone, taping it, and cutting a little bitty hole in the bottom. If you're less c heap, you can buy an itty bitty funnel.

Okay! So now we've got all of our supplies. If you can't think of what you want to franken, or with what recipe, take a few bottle caps and mix drops of colors until you get something that you like. A painters palette is also good for this if you want to try multiple combinations.

To franken from scratch:
Start with your empty bottle. Pour your colors into it little by little until you get a shade that you like. Using a color wheel (google color wheel) is really helpful if you're trying to mix different colors. If you want to add glitter, use your funnel and add a little bit at a time. Make sure you give your funnel a little tap because funnels are easily clogged. After your glitter, add your balls (teehee). Two is usually good. Give your polish a good shake.
If your franken is too opaque or thick, add some clear nail polish. Wet and Wild clear is a frankener favorite. If it's too thin, and won't suspend your glitter and it keeps sinking to the bottom, add some suspension base! So now you have your brand new franken! Make sure it's not filled too full because there are tales of frankens spontaneously breaking from being too full.

And then the fun part, coming up with a name! After you've named your franken, adding a personalized label adds a special touch. Try adding a sticker or ribbon to dress up your new polish. Have fun on your new franken adventures, and good luck, it's addicting!
Here's some pics of my favorite personal frankens:


This is Rainbow Massacre.

Rainbow Massacre ended up BEING massacred because some of the holo glitter I used from ebay bled and now the base is like, poop brown. Always test your glitter!


  1. This post makes me wan to make my own!!! Love the first one :)

  2. Hi there, I am new to the "frankening" and have been trying to find the "suspension base". TKB is out of stock and don't know when they will be selling it again. The polishes I will be making I will be selling so I can not use old polishes. Any suggestions would be great Thanks!!