Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Attack of the nail polish!

How I Organized My Nail Polishes

Earlier this week, I asked readers how they organize their nail polish to get some input on how to organize mine! Surprisingly, the majority of these polishes are from awhile ago – I go in phases with nail polish; I buy bottle after bottle for a few weeks, but then nothing for months.

Anyway, I’ve always just stored them upright in plastic “shoe box” containers from The Container Store, but there’s never been any organization within that method beyond keeping them in one place!  (Sometimes, I hate The Container Store, and sometimes, I love it…)

The stash was kind of growing out of control, so I figured it was time to think about actually organizing it with some method to the madness — I ended up going for by brand, and then by color. I don’t have enough polishes to start micro-organizing (e.g. further organizing by finish) quite yet. Even with what seemed like a healthy amount of polishes, I ended up mixing brands within the same container!

I love, love The Container Store’s Clear Storage Boxes – I use them for EVERYTHING. I have like 20 shoe-box sized containers, lots of the sweater boxes… They’re just really affordable, easy-to-use, and they all stack together, which is something I like. I like the shoe-box size for polishes because they’re just high enough to fit even the taller polishes (I think Dolce & Gabbana is the tallest brand I have), but not so tall that you feel like you’re wasting space.

One thing I noticed is that usually there is a little gap of space on the side, since the polishes don’t fit perfectly snug in them. I’m going to have to pick up a few rolls of non-skid material to lay underneath the polishes so they stay in place better.  In the meanwhile, I put some bubblewrap in the gaps to keep everything in place ’til I get the non-skid stuff in.  Otherwise, I’m satisfied with the solution!

P.S. – I know others enjoy Ikea’s Helmers, but I just found it so cheap-feeling, way too wobbly, and doesn’t really go with anything in my house, so that just wasn’t a viable option for me. (But trust, I love me some Ikea — a TON of my furniture is from there–huge fan of the Expedit series!   This particular piece just wasn’t for me.)

See how it all turned out…

YAY, organization!

All Zoya

All China Glaze

All China Glaze

All China Glaze

Various high-end: Dior, Chanel, MAC, Lippmann, Estee Lauder, Dolce & Gabbana; then Borghese

A few more China Glazes, mostly OPI

Barielle, Dashing Diva, Duri, Essie

Orly, SpaRitual

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110 thoughts on “How I Organized My Nail Polishes

  1. Inês

    HOLY COW XD I need about two boxes of those for my collection, I need to look for cheap and nice fitting boxes here.

  2. Anitacska

    Wow, what a lot of nail polishes you have! :)

  3. gabby

    oh my ! that’s one beautiful collection

  4. Love it! I couldn’t personally do the shoebox thing, I think it would drive me insane. I bought some acrylic spinner holders from eBay that I adore!

    • Hey Krystal!

      I think with my “style” (and also, lack of space), I have no desire to display them, which is why I’ve never been tempted by nail polish racks. I like what you linked to, I’d love to see yours!

    • Liz

      WoW, Thank you for the web site. The shoe box thing does not work for me either. The spinner rack is the best I’ve seen yet.

  5. This is really good and very neat. I am one of those anal people that have to see what I owe to keep from rebuying it or similar products.

    I have a room that is my woman cave where I store all my stuff and have these shelves from floor to ceiling where I stack stuff and can clearly see it. Being a professional MUA it helps if ever I have to have an assistant pack stuff for me.

    • That’s awesome 😉 In my dream home, I’d have a whole room that would be filled with my stuff (OK, the office is pretty much like 80% my stuff…) where I could me super SUPER organized and keep everything tidy and pretty, haha. Lucky you!

      I’d love to see photos of your woman cave 😉

  6. Wow, what a collection! I wouldn’t expect anything less from you though 😉

    I have similar clear shoe boxes that I got from the dollar store here. Only 3 boxes full of polish for me though. I want to get a nail polish rack though to display nail polish and MAC pigments. I just don’t have a lot of wall space to put one up, so maybe one day when I move again. I put an old t-shirt or towel in the top of my boxes to prevent the polishes from moving around too much. It’s not pretty, but helps.

    • Hey Christy! :)

      I think I have eight boxes – almost exactly, lol!

      I don’t have a lot of wall space, and I don’t know if those racks would do it for me. I can do the cheap plastic boxes as something to hold me over, but my dream is beautiful, dark wood shelving in my own lil’ makeup/Christine room, haha. The bubble wrap ain’t pretty either, but it’s holding up for now. I’m hoping the non-skid stuff will work like a dream!

  7. woooooow i have like 1/5 of that lol

  8. RUBI

    wow thats a lot of polishes!!!!!

  9. Giselle

    OMG you have a whole store of nail polishes hahah, thats a lot

  10. Simply Simply S

    Such gorgeous colors…. U cud make artwork out of the 1st 3 piks !

  11. sandra

    I have the cheap IKEA containers and LOVE them for almost everything…. my closet looks so neat since I have been using the containers and it’s easy to track stuff too 😉
    I looooove your nailstash!! Completly blowes me away! I only have one container full (but hey, I’m working on it).

  12. I love your pics – gorgeous polishes! I go back and forth on how I want to separate my collection, but I have them separated by color right now. I also use the plastic shoebox method! When the pinks started to overflow, I created a “light pinks” shoe box. I am ashamed to say how many polishes I own (or not…I’m a polish fanatic! It’s in my nature!), and how many untrieds there are in their own collection of shoe boxes! Thanks for sharing this!!

  13. Wendy

    Weeellll…I used to be a DM for Sally’s and my very close friend/ nail tech owns a prof. nail supply, I actually have a couple of retail nail racks, I am shameless when it comes to polish, we are talking high 3 digit possibly 4 and counting…*sigh*. The hubby says I’m a polish hoarder, I say conniseur.

  14. Soon you’ll be ready to move up to the Helmer!! Everyone’s favorite perfect polish organizer from Ikea! It holds more polishes in less space than anything!

  15. Jameyn

    oh my gosh. that’s my heaven right there. do you buy them all? or do you receive them to do reviews on them?

    • I haven’t bought them all, as some were definitely sent over for consideration for review. I’ve bought the majority of the China Glaze polishes (like 80%), MAC (like 90%), and OPI (100%). I think I paid for maybe half of the Chanel shades, and the rest were likely sent over as samples.

  16. OMG!!! That is friggin AWESOME!!!!!! Sweet storage boxes. I need to check those out. Thank you so much for sharing this with us all!!!

  17. Oh my! 😀 Have you bought all of these? 😀

    • I haven’t bought them all, as some were definitely sent over for consideration for review. I’ve bought the majority of the China Glaze polishes (like 80%), MAC (like 90%), and OPI (100%). I think I paid for maybe half of the Chanel shades, and the rest were likely sent over as samples. HTH!

      • Still, you’ve spent a fortune! 😀
        But you’ve organized it really well :) Do you have a place to store all this? 😀 I think I have about 10 nail polish, not more than that 😀

        • Don’t remind me, LOL! At year-end, I see how much I spend on makeup/beauty, and a little part of me dies inside!

          I store them all on top of each other, next to a 2×2 Expedit furniture piece from Ikea.l Right now, 8 of them goes to just below it, so it works. I have a separate holdover container (same size) for polishes I get in after this point, ’cause I’m way too lazy to re-organize *every* time I get something new, so I tend to wait ’til there are several that need to be put into their places!

  18. Melissa

    That’s enough polish to last until the Apocalypse! LOL You did a great job, Christine!

  19. holy cow.. i have like 4!

  20. Leila

    omfg I wish I was you right now!!! You can open your own nail polish store with all those nail polishes!

  21. Sarah M

    Serious nail polish envy going on over here! Lol. My nail polishes start of in a drawer and work their way all over the place. Currently there are some in drawers, some in the wardrobe, some on the bedside table, some in the glove compartment, some in the bathroom cabinet, some on the bedroom floor,… I could go on! :-)

  22. Kelly

    Awww, little nail polish soldiers, marching off to battle the ferocious chipped mani-monster!
    I looove the pics!

  23. becki

    wow, i am TOTALLY jealous of your collection! amazing. :)

  24. AnGeLwInGz

    Nice job! The before pictures look just like mine.

  25. Sylvie

    OMG…your collection is SICK! I am sooo jealous hehe! I am glad that you resolved the organization problem :)

  26. kathleen

    Wow-I am very impressed!!! You did a phenomenal job !!!!

  27. love

    Oh My Christine, I thought I was bad… you collection is out of control, lol!
    WOW, My collection is my VS bag with nail accessories etc. When I move into my new house, I’ll have more space to organize :)
    Amazing collection!

    On a side note, did you remove the makeup look sections in your forum, can’t find it :(

  28. I use the same like you Christine!! :)

  29. K

    I am way, way surprised you don’t have MORE!

  30. yvette / overanalyzer

    WOAH. i need to show this to my partner who is always complaining about my nailpolish, even though i only have less than 20!! do you ever use all of these?!?!

  31. Hannah

    Wow this post made me a little too excited! The polishes look sooo good all arranged in the boxes! I’m gonna need to do something like this soon!

  32. Wow! That looks so awesome! Love the pictures hahaha, so colorful. I’m going to have to check out these boxes at the Container Store – they really look perfect!

  33. Magliane Araújo

    My good!!

  34. Hi!
    That’s an excellent way of organizing your nail polish! I’ve been using those office supply floppy plastic cases, and not only do they not fit, they’re unstable. I’m so glad you did this blog, but I just have one question. How many shoe boxes did you end up filling, and how do you store them? On top of each other? I can’t think of where I would put them all!

    • Hey!

      I ended up filling 8, and one thing I really, really like about this method is as I need to get more, it’s not a big deal ($1.49 per container) – and I don’t have to reinvent my storage solution to expand!

      I do just store them on top of each other, in a corner, next to a piece of furniture that I use to store makeup stuff :) 8 of them stack about hip high, I think.

  35. ohmigod, that collection is awesome, and the packaging is amazing. I have similar love/hate feelings about the container store. Right now my biggest storage nightmare is my closet though – I can never find anything!

    • Aww!!

      One day, when I’m actually living in my own *house* (aka not an apt!), I want to hire a super closet organizer to build me the most amazing storage system EVER.

      • Ms. Sanriani

        Exactly, with the amount of makeup you and I have we need a pro making a costom made organizer like on stackable thing with all pink lipglosses in one thing, reds in the other and so on. I am seriously thinking of getting one soon like an interior designer. Whoa I dream too mcuh hah.

  36. madeline

    OMG!!! christine…i cant belieive how many u have LOL

  37. Make_up_Maven

    Looks great – I did something similar with mine but with bigger containers (which was a mistake as they are almost too heavy to carry lol). I had mine organized by brand, but recently I changed it to by color instead – it’s easier for me if I want to wear blue – pull out the blue bin and look through it to pick a shade, rather than have to go through each brand bin. :)

    • Nice :) I think for me, I’m usually going back to look for dupes within a brand, and then go looking for other brands, so I guess this works better for my purposes, lol!

  38. JessicaM

    woah now thats A LOT! great work christine! I guess I need to start on my own too.

  39. karen

    Oooh, so many nail polishes. I’m jealous!

  40. Paige

    Holy cow!
    I wish I had your collection but I barely use the ones I have.

  41. HOLEY MOLEY!!!! That is such a huge nail polish collection, But Im liking it! 😀

  42. Ashley

    That is WAY too much polish 😐

    I have like, less than 10 lol. But then again I don’t wear nail polish that often anymore. Too drying on my nails.

  43. Paloma

    I aam so bloody jealous of you chica, your polishes all look so amazing….

  44. Tekoa

    *flails about wildly* AHHHHHHhhhhhhhh! Attack of the nail polish

  45. dang gurl!! you could set up shop with all those!

  46. rena


    how do you even begin to pick a color you want to wear?!

  47. Natasha

    Christine – tell me these aren’t ALL your personal polishes! If they are I am going to assume you’re running a salon:) Love the organisation and will be doing the same myself.

  48. jollie

    WOW! that is a lot. I only have a few, around 20, and it fits perfectly in a drawer standing up. Anyway, I think you should organize it in color scheme instead of brand. It would make it easier to search for specific colors. When I do my nails, I don’t think what brand I feel like wearing today, I just think what color I feel like today.

    • I like it by brand, because everything looks more uniform, since the bottles match. I also like to compare within a brand, and *then* compare against other brands myself 😀 Thanks for the suggestion, though!

  49. Serene

    Im surprised at how little OPIs u have!

  50. monique r.

    yesssss i would love to see a list of all of them…what is that gorgeous lippmann purple?!

  51. Kisakuku

    Outstanding collection! Охуенно!

  52. Luisafer

    OMG I could go and buy some nail polish at your place, probably you have a widest selection than many stores LOL I envy that LOL
    You did a great job, really neat and easy to use now!!! I think I would only need 1 box LOL

  53. Sarah

    Giiirrrrlll… you and me, like I’ve been saying for years, we could open our own salon! The make-up was one thing, but now the polish between us, damn.

  54. Brenda

    how long do you find the polishes last for before they start getting goopy?? I only have one box full because I got rid of a lot that went too thick or sticky. I barely ever wear them, so I stopped buying them.

  55. L

    Damn, Christine, you have a LOT of nail polish. I’m jealous! :)

  56. Melissa

    it looks like you hAVE ROWS of the same color but its like this is light pink & this is medium light pink, hot pink etc lol

  57. MaidenCanada

    I store my nailpoishes in two train cases from Baby Phat perfume
    They are almost all OPI, MAC and Zoya

  58. Katie

    Holy cow, that’s a lot of nail polishes! I’m like you; I buy loads of polishes for a while, then none for quite some time. I used to go and have my nails done, but I’ve recently discovered the joy of doing my own!

  59. Rose

    Hi Christine, someone’s using your photo from this post here to try to sell nail polish: (It’s in Russian but Google Translate can help a bit).

  60. silverred09

    this is some serious nail polish collection!!

  61. Jess0501

    Super jealous with ur makeup and nail polish collection.. wish they were mine

  62. Christina

    U have a lot of nail polishes…
    I envy you noble!

  63. OMG!!! Nail polish heaven! So organised now! 😀

  64. V

    wow thats a wonderful collection. I always loved owning many, but dint as they may get old. Could u tel me how long can we store nail polishes without getting dry, and do u change ur nail paint every week

  65. You don’t understand how happy this makes me. I LOVE nail polish. Currently I’m at 80… Nothing compared to your collection! But I just ordered a wall rack, and I plan on organizing them that way! For those interested to see photos, check out my blog ( sometime early next week. 😀