Who Is Amanda?
You may not know her name, but Amanda Mayton forever changed the entire nail polish industry in 2009.
Since the invention of nail polish, colors and types had always been controlled by the large polish brands. Amanda Mayton got creative and started mixing from her current stash. She blogged about her experiments in “Frankening”, or mixing her own polishes, at www.DrFrankenpolish.wordpress.com
Like many of us, Amanda had a huge collection but was still on the lookout for unique and interesting colors. The commercial selection was much smaller in 2009. Remember, indies didn’t exist yet. Amanda began mixing her polishes to create different looks or to simply jazz up some of her boring colors.
Amanda’s blog inspired thousands of people to play, which led some nail enthusiasts to start their own independent “indie” brand. You might even one one—or a few—or a lot!
What is Frankening?
“Frankening is the process of mixing polishes together to create a new and original colour, or adding glitter to an existing polish. The name comes from Frankenstein, who created his monster using bits and pieces of other things. A Franken polish is traditionally created by mixing two or more polishes together to get a desired colour/shade.” ~Girly Bits Cosmetics
If you can have a lot of fun mixing your existing polishes together and creating some unique colors for next to nothing, why not?
I’m sure you already have some polishes that you don’t really want to wear again anyway, right?
If a LOT of experimenting sounds fun, Frankening might be for you.
Creating A Franken Polish
Frankening is a great way to make use of polish that you may have purchased but discovered that you were not crazy about once you had painted it on your nails. These can make great bases for a Franken polish.
Creating your own polish can be fun, addicting and a little messy. Don’t get discouraged if your first polish doesn’t turn out well.
“Frankening is all about experimenting! I’ve created my fair share of hideous, blindingly ugly polishes that would make anyone shudder in disgust. It’s a learning process, and even the most experienced Frankeners have the occasional failure!” ~Amanda Mayton
So let’s start with the basics you need to know…
Your very best Frankening friends are mixing balls. But make sure that they are stainless steel so they don’t rust. Mixing balls will cut down on the time you spend shaking bottles to mix your creations.
On a fun side note—it was when I read Amanda’s article back in 2012 that I decided to offer the mixing balls in the Bliss Kiss™ store because I had so much trouble mixing my glitter polishes!
Amanda recommended small artist mixing trays to test your ideas. That was before the invention of our Simply Neat™ silicone manicure mat! You can also use whatever you’ve got around the house. Paper or plastic yogurt lids will work if you don’t have a mat.
You will save yourself a lot of aggravation by mixing a few drops of polish on your silicone mat instead of mixing an entire bottle when you’re getting started. This will allow you to play around with different color combinations to see what works and what doesn’t work before you commit to mixing an entire bottle. If you’re using a manicure mat, you don’t even have to clean off your mat while you’re testing color combinations—let the polish dry and peel it off!
You can use anything around the house as a mixing tool. Toothpicks, orange wood sticks, dotting tools, or a cuticle scraping tool are my favorites.
Once you have a color that you like, you’ll need a bottle to put it in. You can clean out old polish bottles with acetone or you can purchase empty polish bottles online. We’ve also put together a limited edition Franken Kit to help you get started. You can purchase a Bliss Kiss™ Franken Kit here.
Amanda says, “the larger sized bottles will use up more of your supplies, so you may want to start off using smaller bottles. Dollar Stores are a great source for buying polishes to Franken with. Those unappealing sheers take on a new life once a darker color is added! Cheaper brands such as NYC, Wet N Wild, and others found in drugstores are awesome for making Frankens, and cost very little. On a side note, I like bottles that have peel-off labels. It helps distinguish between my “real” polishes and the Frankens.”
You’ll need a funnel to get your ingredients into the bottle. I found paper funnels made from a Post-It® note to work best to help avoid messes and spills.
There is no limit to the types of polish you can use. If you are working at resurrecting some of your older polishes, you may need to add several drops of nail polish thinner to make your Franken have the right application consistency.
Nail Polish Thinner
Please don’t thin your polish with acetone. Nail polish thinner contains the same solvents in your lacquer that evaporate causing your polish to get thick in the bottle. The most common solvents being butyl acetate, ethyl acetate, and isopropyl alcohol.
Acetone is not the correct solvent to use to thin polish and will start to destroy the polish consistency. Your polish will end up dull, streaky, and sad.
You can find polish thinner on Amazon and in beauty supply stores. My first 4 ounce bottle lasted close to 10 years. It’s a very good investment to keep in your nail stash.
The Extra Bling
We all know about glitter, but did you know that you might have a few more supplies in your makeup drawer you can use in your Frankening project? Cosmetic pigments (such as eyeshadow pigments) and cosmetic-grade or solvent resistant glitter are a fun, easy way to bling up your Frankenpolish.
Craft glitter isn’t usually solvent resistant so it can start to bleed and/or curl in your polish. This makes for an uncomfortably bumpy polish!
“Glitter and pigments are best mixed with a clear or sheer polish. If you are going for a darker color, like black, make sure you add a good amount of clear to it first. This will help your glitter stand out better in the polish, and also avoid settling to the bottom of the bottle. Using glitter and pigments can be tricky, since some brands or types just refuse to play nice with any type of polish.
Generally speaking, most cosmetic grade glitters will work, but I have found some that don’t. Avoid using poly-based glitters, since they will melt when added to polish. Vinyl is your friend! Glitters can be very tricky, and it is mostly trial and error. When experimenting with a new brand/type of glitter, I will add it to a small bottle with a little bit of clear polish, shake it up, and let it sit overnight to see how it reacts. I’ve been surprised on a few occasions where the glitter didn’t melt, but instead changed color completely. Which isn’t always a bad thing! One brand I use quite frequently is the Martha Stewart craft glitters. I have dozens of colors I have tried, and never had a problem with them.” ~Amanda
Don’t be afraid to experiment with several kinds of ingredients and see what works for you!
A Franken Kit
We decided to put together a small limited edition Franken Kit to help get you started. It includes 5 mini polish bottles, 10 stainless steel mixing balls and a small vial of the same “Ice Crystal” glitter that we use in our Simply Peel™ latex barrier. You can purchase a Bliss Kiss™ Franken Kit here.
You might also want a small craft or art brush and acetone if you want to test your mix on your nail. This is helpful when creating the easiest Franken—sheer polish.
Grab a notebook and pencil. You’re about to get “sciencey” and document your process to make the formula for your creation.
And remember those math fractions you didn’t think you would need to know as an adult? Here they come! You’ll start your tests with only DROPS (parts) of polish. Once you’re satisfied with your recipe, then you’ll want to use your math skills to make a larger batch that will be enough for all 10 fingernails.
A Little Afraid of Color?
If you’re not sure which colors to mix, check out the free tutorial we created to help you create gorgeous color combinations.
The Bliss Kiss™ Paint the Rainbow Color Theory Tutorial Includes:
A 30-Minute Video Tutorial on
- How to figure out your skin tones
- A fun and comprehensive explanation of color theory
- Detailed descriptions of how colors work together (or against each other) and examples of each
- Some fun tools to help you apply what you've learned to create beautiful color combinations
Some Recipes to Get You Started
If you look at your polish stash and feel overwhelmed and don’t know which polishes to mix, here are some simple recipes to help get you started.
Make a Glitter Topper
Who says your clear top coat can’t be a little sparkly? Especially when it’s so easy!
In the Bottle: There is no need to test this out on your mat.Fill your mini bottle about ¾ full. Using a paper funnel, add a little solvent-resistant glitter. Add 2 mixing balls and shake to mix—it could take a little while. Test on your mat or paper. Add more glitter as desired. Just realize that glitter will thicken the consistency of your Franken, so you may want to add several drops of nail polish thinner or some additional suspension base lacquer. I have more tips below.
Make a Sheer Polish
Sheers are another of the easiest Frankens to make and they are perfect for pond manicures. Sheers let you “float” easy nail art—like dots—in between translucent layers. The effect can be quite stunning for its simplicity.
On the Mat: Start with one drop (1 part) of a vibrant dark polish. Add 3 drops (3 parts) of clear polish or clear topcoat.
In the Bottle: If you’re happy with this mix, you’ll want to fill your bottle ¼ full with dark and ¾ with clear. Remember to leave air space at the top.
Go Darker or Lighter
If you have a color that became an “oh, heck no” because of being too dark or just “meh” because it’s too light, this is a great way to find the “just right” version.
Choose two colors in the same family. For example; red and pale pink or blue and pale blue. Use the dark color first. You will always be able to go lighter. You will never be able to go darker than the original color unless you add black to it.
On the Mat: Start with 1 drop (1 part) of the dark polish. Add 3 drops (3 parts) of light polish. Mix. Continue adding the light color until you are satisfied. Adjust your “parts ratio” when increasing your recipe in the bottle.
In the Bottle: If you’re happy with 1 part dark and 3 parts light, you’ll want to fill your bottle ¼ full with dark and ¾ with light. Remember to leave air space at the top.
Make A Tint—Add White
On the Mat: Start with 3 drops (3 parts) of the color polish. Add 1 drop (1 part) of white polish. Mix. Continue adding the white color until you are satisfied.
In the Bottle: If you’re happy with 3 parts of color and 1 part white, you’ll want to fill your bottle ¾ full with color and ¼ with white. Remember to leave air space at the top.
Make a Tone—Add Grey
On the Mat: Start with 3 drops (3 parts) of the color polish. Add 1 drop (1 part) of grey polish. Mix. Continue adding the grey color until you are satisfied.
In the Bottle: If you’re happy with 3 parts of color and 1 part grey, you’ll want to fill your bottle ¾ full with color and ¼ with grey. Remember to leave air space at the top.
Make A Shade—Add Black
Making a shade is tricker. Since black is the darkest color of all, an entire drop could be way too much.
Understanding “parts” becomes helpful when you’re measuring into your bottle because it’s easiest to measure by drops. You’re going to use the black as a fraction of one drop in your testing. Then when you create your Franken in the bottle, one drop of black will be 1 part.
On the Mat: Start with 3 drops (12 parts) of the color polish. Add ¼ drop (1 part) of black polish. Hint: put one drop of black on your manicure mat and use an orangewood stick to pick up ¼ of the drop of black. Mix. Continue adding more black or more color until you are satisfied.
In the Bottle: If you’re happy with 12 parts color to 1 part black, then you will need to use your multiplication skills to fill the bottle. For example, if you used 6 drops of black, then you will need 72 drops of color polish (12 times 6). An easier way to accomplish this type of mixing is by weight, but you will need a scale that can weigh 100ths of a gram. These are available on Amazon. Remember to leave air space at the top.
Tips For Success
Wipe Your Bottles
Remember to clean off the neck of the polishes after you pour them into your mixing bottle. Use your Simply Grab™ manicure saver tool with some cotton or lint free pad with acetone to clean the neck of the bottle. This will prevent your cap from hardening to the glass bottle.
Don’t over fill the bottle. Remember to leave room for the brush, mixing balls and a little bit of air need to make room for mixing. It is possible for Frankens to spontaneously break from being too full.
You also might find it helpful to cap the bottle and mix a couple of times to ease mixing while filling the bottle.
Remember to be cautious when adding dark colored polishes to your Franken polish since some are intensely pigmented. Start small and work your way up. It’s a good idea to add dark colors to light colors, not the other way around.
There are a couple of different ways to get this finicky product in your tiny bottle.
1. Create a paper funnel. Use a small piece of paper (Post-it® sized) and create the funnel so that the bottom fits into the neck of the bottle.
2. Cut the end of a straw on an angle, creating a sort of scoop that you can use to scoop the glitter out of your glitter bag or container and pour into the polish bottle.
Glitter also thickens the consistency of your polish, so if you put in too much, you can rescue it by adding some polish thinner. Remember: Do not use acetone to thin the polish! It will make your Franken weak, brittle and very dull.
Glitter Polish Mixing Hack: Have you ever noticed how some of your polishes seem to separate? This is due to the weight of the pigments and other additives. They’re heavy and sink through the lacquer suspension base.
I’ve noticed that once glitter has sunk, it seems like it’s permanently glued to the bottom of the bottle. Turn your glitter polish upside down for 10-15 minutes. Then shake and roll the bottle to mix the glitter back into the lacquer. Your wrist, elbow and shoulder will thank you.
Glitter or Flakie Polishes
Use a commercial glitter/flakie polish as your base FIRST and then add your colored polish.
Glitter Frankening Tips for Suspending Glitters and Pigments: How to Keep Your Creations Mixed Up
Glitter getting stuck to the bottom of your bottle? Clear polishes and suspension bases are different creatures! A suspension base is formulated specifically to keep the glitter “floating” and less likely to settle at the bottom than a thinner clear polish.
Another way to reduce the sticky glitter puddle at the bottom of your bottle is to try adding your loose glitter to a polish that already has glitter.
If your Franken is too thin and your glitter keeps sinking to the bottom, add some suspension base or more of a commercial glitter polish. If you want to purchase a clear suspension base, check out TBK Trading. They sell a clear base made specifically for holding glitter and colored pigments.
If your Franken is too thick, you can add polish thinner (Remember: Do not use acetone to thin the polish!)or clear polish to your mix.
Is the Color Too Dark or Opaque?
If your Franken is too opaque or dark, try adding some clear polish. Wet n Wild® clear is a Frankener favorite.
Reusing Mixing Balls
If you need to reclaim used mixing balls from one of your Frankens or a commercial polish, grab a strong magnet! Pull them up along the side and then out of the bottle. Wash with acetone.
Ready, Set, PLAY!
If you feel a little scared about which colors to mix, please check out my free 30 minute Color Theory video tutorial. You’ll learn which colors of nail polish work best with your shade of skin. You’ll also receive a lot of tips about how colors work together and complement each other, to help you create gorgeous color combinations.
Click here to sign up for our free course: https://www.myblisskiss.com/color It will open in a new tab so you can continue reading.
Step 1: Mix a few drops.
Referring to the formula examples above, place a few drops of polish onto your art tray or manicure mat.
Step 2: Add glitter (optional)
If you’re using glitter, shake in a bit of glitter onto your drops of polish on your tray or mat. Remember to start small. It’s always easier to add a little more as you go.
Step 3: Mix it
Use any tool to mix your ingredients.
Step 4: Swatch test
Swatch test your mixed polish on plain paper, your manicure mat or a swatch wheel. If you are happy with the appearance of your mixture, go to the next step. If not, repeat steps 2 and 3 until you find the right blend.
Step 5: Mix tested colors in the bottle.
After you’ve tested your combinations and you’re happy with it, it’s time to mix it in your bottle. (Refer to the formulas for the proportions to add.) If you have a steady hand, you can just pour the polish into the new bottle. If not, use a paper funnel.
Pour first polish in the bottle.
Pour second polish in the bottle
Add 2 mixing balls
Insert the brush
Twist on the cap
Shake it up!
Step 6: Name it!
Create a fun 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.
Step 7: Share it!
SHARE WITH US! Be sure to post your Franken creations in our Blissette Nail Bar on Facebook and Instagram!
For this Skittlette manicure I used my dark polish (Sally Hansen® Hard as Nails Merlot) and my frankened pink (Darling Dahlia) on the remaining 3 fingers. I used our Ice Crystal glitter from the Bliss Kiss™ Franken Kit to franken the topcoat to all 5 fingers. I then stamped with the Merlot polish which is a little sheer. (Lina Nail Art Supplies Swirls and Twirls 2). I'm thrilled with the results!
Have fun with your new Frankenpolish adventures, and good luck. It can become very addicting! ~Ana