mom who works

the joys and challenges of being a working mom trying to find "balance"

Organization for the nail polish obsessed April 15, 2013

Never in a million years did I think I would own so many nail polishes. But once my collection got over 20, I realized I needed to find a way to keep track of what colors I had so I could avoid purchasing duplicates and just because I’m kind of an organized person anyway it just seemed like something I needed to do.


So I started first with a spreadsheet. I chose to include columns such as Brand, Color Name, Collection, Year, LE (Limited Edition), Color Family, Color Tone, Formula, Untried?, Swatch (link to a photo of my swatch on Google Drive), and Others in Collection I Don’t Have.

I save this out to my Google Drive, in a folder aptly titled “Nails” which includes the aforementioned photographs, as well as another spreadsheet I keep with my base coat/top coat experiment (that’s a different post altogether).

Nail Polish Spreadsheet

The spreadsheet works great for keeping lots of detail about polishes, and for quickly sorting by brand or by color. But it’s not great in terms of seeing at a glance what the colors are, or what colors go good with other colors in terms of mani-pedi combos, etc. So for that I turned to swatch spoons.


I love these clear plastic swatch spoons. You can find them in packs of 50 on Ebay from a number of different sellers for less than $10 a package. I purchased mine from sunwebhome, who I would recommend, although I don’t know that they always have these available. Price is good, communication is good, the only thing is these are shipped straight from China so it can take several weeks to receive them. You can search on words like “nail art tips stick polish” to see what’s out there.

swatch spoons pink red orangeswatch spoons green blue brown grey black

The first thing I do when I bring home a new polish is paint the swatch spoon. I always do two coats, and top it with one of my less preferred top coats for protection and to give the look that I would expect to see on the nail. I now have these organized on large, 2-inch binder rings by color family – whites and pinks, reds/oranges/vamps, blues and greens, purples/greys/blacks. It allows me to quickly flip through and “test” a color on my nail or as a mani-pedi combination.


Nail Polish App screenshotFinally, for the best of both worlds on the go, I recently downloaded the FREE Nail Polish Book app for iPhone.

This app is AWESOME. It allows you to sort quickly by brand, name, color or collection. You can “flip” though the photographs just like many of the carousel-like photo apps you’ll find for iPhone, and you can even search by name, brand or collection. This is invaluable when you’re at the store considering a purchase, and aren’t sure if you’ve purchased that color before or if you have a dupe already.

I actually just upload my swatch photos (the ones I keep in my Google Drive), rather than bottle shots, so I can see how it looks with my skintone. I tend to take the photo with my iPhone anyway, so it is a quick and easy step to just add the photo from my Photo library into the Nail Polish Book.

So those are some of the tools and tricks I use to try to keep organized with this fun hobby. How about you? What kinds of things do you do to keep organized?


8 Responses to “Organization for the nail polish obsessed”

  1. Sam Says:

    Wow. That is a lot of effing polishes! You really are organized. I would be like hyperventilating if I had that many polishes because I wouldn’t know which to wear! lol. Aren’t the ones from 2010 and before getting a little old and runny at this point?

    • Deborah Says:

      Hi Sam. Actually, I have some OPIs that are 10+ years old with no problems. As long as you keep them tightly capped, and shake well before using, nail polish doesn’t really go “bad.” I have a good quality thinner I keep on hand too just in case it gets a little thick. It’s fun to have lots of different colors to choose from, although I am getting more selective in any new purchases!

  2. healthiestbeauty Says:

    Reblogged this on The healthiest beauty.

  3. Wow! I’m rather jealous of your nail polish collection! I thought I had a lot…but I’ve got nothing on you! If you’d like to add Essie : Cute as a Button to your collection, you can enter into my giveaway I have going on currently! 🙂

    • Deborah Says:

      I’m definitely narrowing down my purchases to Chanel collections, so I had a lot of catching up to do in terms of the currently available (and easily obtainable) Chanel polishes. Now I’m more in “maintenance mode,” picking up new collections as they are introduced, and I also have a better sense of what I like so I’m being a little more selective.

      • What is your favorite brand currently? I’ve never tried Chanel polish…I’d be interested in trying–if it is worth it! 🙂

      • Deborah Says:

        While there are often dupes of Chanel’s colors shortly after they launch, I’ve found that most times you can’t beat their formula. I don’t have the patience to babysit a picky polish. I’ve found that 9 times out of 10, Chanel’s formula is far superior to a similar OPI or Essie color. For me it’s worth it, but YMMV.

      • Thank you so much! That is very helpful–Now, I must go get Chanel polish to try!

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