Organizing a Nail Polish Collection

Posted By on May 17, 2012

Guest post by Arlyn Parker

I have always LOVED nail polish, even as a small child.  However, I never liked my hands, they are very small and child like.  If I could have any body’s hands, it would be Lucille Ball’s. Her finger were long, elegant and graceful.

Since, I always thought my fingers were short and stubby, the only way I truly liked my hands was when my nails were manicured and painted. This is how my nail polish collection began and when I began organizing my collection – more on that in a minute.

Throughout my teens and early to mid ’20s I ALWAYS had acrylic nails. My best friend often made the comment “No matter what, Arlyn will have her nails done.” That was SO true. If I broke a nail,  I would get to the salon ASAP! I loved my acrylic nails.  Sadly, the damage they had done to my nails for 10 years was really adding up. My natural nails were thin, weak, peeling and just awful!  I decided to quit destroying my nails, as well as my nail beds, and grow my own nails.

I actually have very nice natural nails when I take care of them. Shortly after this decision, I got engaged! All of a sudden I had this amazing ring, I really needed to have beautiful nails to show off my hands!  So, this is when my “hobby” of nail polish collecting began (from 2007 to 2008).

I started out buying a few polishes every time I went to the mall or the drugstore. After a month or two I really had a nice collection started.

It is so much fun to change polishes!  It’s like the best and easiest accessory to switch!  I have what most people would consider a lot of polish.  Actually, in the “nail-polish community” I am still at “amateur” status.  I own just over 150 bottles, and most of the women in the nail-polish world who I speak with have 300-500 bottles! Some have even more. Because my collection is still relatively small, I know the names and corresponding colors of all of my polishes.

Spreadsheet organizes nail polish inventory

One of the ways I organize my polish is by using a spreadsheet.  I did not think I needed one  for my “small” collection, but with some persuasive friends I went ahead and made one.  It was SO easy and a lot of fun!! When I buy or swap polish, or get rid of a polish, I just edit my sheet!

I have found it easiest to list all of the polish brands alphabetically. I then list the names of the colors alphabetically.  I made columns for any notes or comments for that particular polish. I also listed the kind of finish each polish has.

Screenshot of Arlyn's nail polish inventory spreadsheet



I suggest that anyone with a collection (of any kind) create a spreadsheet.  I do think a spreadsheet is helpful and almost essential.

Good storage is a must

When it came to the actual “storage” of my polish, it has been a work in progress.  At first, I just needed a plastic storage shoe container. Then, as my collection progressed, I needed more storage so I bought two more shoe containers.  They are made out of clear plastic and they aren’t the sturdiest construction. So, they cannot withstand the weight of three full drawers of polish. The containers started buckling, and opening the drawers became a daily (yes, daily) challenge.

The  overflow of polish bottles was getting stacked on top and on the floor around the storage unit.  It was becoming one hot mess!

Michael's "melmer" from the scrapbooking storage section I had outgrown my three drawers (which I NEVER thought would happen).  I knew a fourth drawer would just add to the madness, so I bit the bullet and upgraded to a “melmer”.  What is a melmer?  A melmer is a storage container you purchase at Michael’s Arts and Craft store.  It is not actually called a melmer, but that’s what the polish community calls it. (It can be found in the scrap booking section.) It runs about $39, and Michael’s always has a 20-40% off coupon.  My melmer cost me $30.09.

Ikea, has a storage unit called a “Helmer”, that a lot of women use to store their polish.  So, that’s where the word “melmer” came from.

Depending on your personal preference you have to decide what you would rather have.  For my preference, I went with the melmer, and not the Helmer, for a couple of different reasons.  First, there is not an Ikea where I live. I also prefer the material that the melmer is made out of versus the metal that the Helmer is made out of.  I have never seen a Helmer in person, but from what I can tell, the metal seems flimsy and it looks more like office furniture rather than home furniture.  I like that the melmer is stackable with other units, and I think it’s all around a nicer piece of “furniture”.

I brought the melmer home and assembled it (with the Husband’s help).  I do think it’s very important to line the bottoms of the drawers with non-slip shelf liner.  If you omit this every time you open the drawer the polish will slide everywhere!  The way you choose to organize your polish is up to you, but I found it easiest to organize by brand I had the most of and then organize the colors.  I do own a few “randoms” polishes, but I put all of my polishes in the same drawer.  It’s what I call “The five-or-less” drawers.  I still use my plastic shoe boxes for my files, buffers, remover, cotton balls, etc.  My new set up is so much easier and efficient to use. It doesn’t make me fight it every time I try to go in there.

Making nail polish last

“Polishes, do have a shelf life, and after a certain amount of years they will get gloopy, thick and extremely difficult to use.  I have heard of people adding nail polish remover to the polish, but I have been told that this is not good to do.  Remover will change the chemical makeup of the polish, essentially “eating” the polish.  The best and recommended method is to use nail polish thinner.

Thinner doesn’t change the polish; it just thins it out.  I have never used thinner.

Some polishes do last longer than others. I have polish that is more than eight years old and still in pretty good shape.  I also have my absolute FAVORITE polishes. There are three that I drool over every time I see them! They are: Peridot by Chanel, Cajun Shrimp by OPI and Holographic by GOSH.  I have tried to work on a “Top 10” list but I can’t seem to get it under 12.

Take care of your nails too!

Nail Polish is a fun, easy and (sometimes) cheaper way to spruce up your wardrobe.  I was told once, “Nails are an extension of your personality”. I will never forget that because its so true.  All it takes is a little time, dedication and loving care, and your nails will reap the benefits.  Nail care doesn’t stop at the polish. Please treat your cuticles and nail beds nicely also.

They are where it all starts!  Diet and nutrition play a huge factor on the health of your nails.  Do the small things, and you should see a visible improvement in your nails.

Note from Janice: I met Arlyn Parker on Twitter, and she’s my go-to source for the latest trends in nail polish colors and styles.

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