I hoard nail polish. It's been a problem for me since I was little. My dad bought me my first set when I was five years old (don't worry, it was the little-kids', peel-off kind) and it changed my life. I remember there were three colors: two shades of pink and a perfect, true red. I actually hid that bottle of red away in a safe place. I told my parents I was saving it for my wedding day. The saddest thing about this story is that, as much as I loved that nail polish, I think I only ever wore it once. Five-year-old me didn't understand that nail polish doesn't last forever.
Well, seventeen years later I've only kind of learned my lesson. Now, I definitely try to get the most use out of the colors I love the most. But... I still buy a shit-ton of colors. With over 150 polishes (I'm too embarrassed to divulge the exact number) in my collection, there's no way I could finish all of them in a lifetime let alone before they go bad.
So now when I'm dying to try a new color, I make one. With the method I'm about to share, I can make just enough polish for one application, and I can make countless colors from just one bottle so my collection doesn't grow to an (even more) outrageous number.
All you'll need to create your custom color is a bottle of clear nail polish (a top coat also works), a toothpick, a plastic bag, and the pigment(s) of your choice. Most makeup specialty stores sell loose pigments in about a bajillion colors, and they're perfect for creating an intense eyeshadow look as well.
If you want to mix different pigments together to create your color, do that first. Then just pour out a few drops of the clear polish onto the bag, and using the toothpick, mix in your color until the pigment is evenly suspended in the polish.
Once you've mixed your color, just use the brush from the clear polish to apply the color to your nails. You'll have to work a little faster than you normally do, though. Since all of the polish you've created is exposed to the air, it will turn goopy if it's sitting out too long. Therefore, I suggest only mixing enough polish to do about three nails at a time.
You shouldn't need to clean off the brush before putting it back in the bottle. Any pigment still on the brush will slowly slide off and settle at the bottom of the bottle, giving you a clean brush and keeping the polish clear for next time. If you want to clean your brush before putting it back, though, just swirl it around in some nail polish remover, and then rinse with water. Don't forget a top coat!
Images: Miki Hayes (3); Giphy