I have been catching up with my nail polish swatching duties in the past week or so. I thought I might as well write a ‘How to swatch nail polish’ type of post. By ‘how to’ I mean maybe give you ideas how to arrange your own collection and explain what and why and how I am doing things.
What colour swatch sticks?
The fist decision a nail polish swatcher has to make is to decide what colour swatch sticks they want to use. The sticks usually come in clear and in cream/white colour.
I think on the white base the polish colour will pop better but that might also mean that they look better on the swatches than they actually will on the nail.
With clear sticks it is nice to swatch glitter. You can place the glitter stick over coloured one and see how the glitter polish would look over the colour.
Where to buy swatch sticks?
For my collection I am using clear swatch sticks. The easiest and cheapest way to purchase swatch sticks is via ebay. I have noticed that sellers often change the prices so instead of relying on one seller I just search for ’50 nail display sticks’ and go for the cheapest.
However, the downfall for this method is that the swatch sticks may be slightly different than the previous ones you have ordered. Mine sometimes come with a round back and other times with square. I don’t mind that as long as the ‘nail’ part looks the same.
The price of the sticks also depends on whether you are buying from a UK or international seller. I prefer UK sellers as the product arrives in up to three days compared to the three + weeks from Asia. The price difference is usually not more than £1 anyway.
How to use swatch sticks?
There are different ways to paint on the swatch sticks.
For me, the fastest and easiest way is to paint the bottom of the stick first. Then turn it around and paint the front. In that way, if the polish is a two coater, the swatch already has the desired colour opacity without me needing to wait for the layers to dry.
I then tend to use a layer of top coat over the top side as the sticks often dry into a ‘not glossy’ weird plasticky finish. I never bother top coating the bottom of the stick.
If the polish I have swatched is a textured/glitter polish I can feel the bottom of the stick to find out how textured it feels without a top coat when I am choosing my colours.
Another way to paint the sticks is to polish the colour only on the bottom of the swatch sticks. In that way the sticks will always feel smooth and you don’t have to add a layer of top coat.
The third way is just to polish the top of the sticks. That’s how I used to do it before coming up with the first described way. If you are using the white sticks this is the only way to go.
How to label swatch sticks?
I handwrite the names of polish on my swatch sticks with a black CD/DVD marker. I found this the easiest way but I guess it doesn’t look as neat as some other ways.
When I first swatched my whole collection, I typed up all the names and then printed them on a clear sticky paper and stuck the names on the sticks. This method is wayyy too time consuming and I found the names on the labels rubbed of quite easy.
Another way to go is to get a label maker. The names would look neat but I think it would also be pretty time consuming typing the polish names in the label maker. Also, label makers cost around £15 – £20.
How to store swatch sticks?
I used to keep my swatch sticks on 58mm binder rings. Well, I still do but not all of them.
I think the largest binder rings you can get are 58mm ones. Again, the cheapest place to get them is ebay.
I keep my gel polish swatches on binder rings. I find this the best way to keep them as I don’t have a massive amount of gel polishes.
I keep each brand on a separate binder ring. All the colours of one gel system are together and organised by colours that compliment each other. With gel polish you usually use one system at a time anyway, so it’s nice to see all colours at once.
My nail polishes are organised in a different way. Firstly, they are organised by colour. At first I kept them on binder rings as well but at one point there were just so many binder rings with sticks that it was difficult to choose/find the colours.
I now keep them in little plastic cups and the cups are kept in a box to prevent them getting dusty. The cups are sold in any grocery shop for about £1. The box is from IKEA. It was only £0.90, you can find it here. It fits 12 plastic cups. I think I might buy a bigger box soon as some of the colours are kept in one cup, for example both black and white are in the same cup.
The only downfall with the cups is that they fall over quite easy as they are so light. When I see nice glass cups I might replace them as then they would be more steady.
I much prefer this way of keeping my swatch sticks as it’s so easy to take them out and match colours etc.
I used to have a Helmer drawer full of swatch sticks but now I have a neat box on top of the Helmer and a new empty draw for more polishes!
Thanks for reading! I would love to hear how do you swatch your polishes :)