Monday, June 27, 2011

How I Make My Swatchicles!

Read on after the jump for the full tutorial!  :D

What is a swatchicle?

A swatchicle is a wooden popsicle stick with a fake nail glued to the end of it which is painted with nail polish.  It's purpose is to keep a swatch of an individual nail polish or look for easy referencing.

Why make swatchicles?

 Swatchicles allow for a permanent library of a nail polish collection.  It makes referencing nail polishes super easy!

 Swatchicles are a great way to avoid the dreaded dupes - when you've made the 5th swatchicle of that baby blue cream you just can't stop buying you know it's time to stop.  

 Swatchicles are stored by color which allows you to store your actual nail polishes by brand.  This saves an immense amount of space.

 Swatchicles help get the creative juices flowing!  Because all of your polishes are at your fingertips, it's easy to create cool new looks!  They make great canvases for trying out new layering ideas or practicing nail art designs.

Supplies for Making Swatchicles

 Wooden popsicle sticks.  These can be purchased at craft supply stores in bags of 100 or boxes of 1000.

 Plain white Elmer's Glue.  Be sure to get the plain white!

 Black felt tip marker.  My favorite is the PaperMate Flair in M.

 Fake toe nails, size 00.  I know, I know.  Ew.  But they fit perfectly onto the end of the popsicle sticks and they make a nice big swatch.  These are available at most nail supply stores.  They are usually sold in bags of 50 to 100.  These nails are available in clear, bright white, and slightly off white.  I prefer the slightly off white ones.

How to Make Swatchicles

 Lay out however many popsicle sticks you'll need.  You may find that some of the popsicle sticks are bent weird and/or have a really rough texture.  Set those aside for now.  You want to use the straight, smooth popsicle sticks for swatching your collection.  You can use the reject popsicle sticks for testing out new looks or practicing nail art.

 Pour some fake nails onto your table.  When you pick them up try to hold them by the edges - this keeps your finger oils off the surface of the nails.  Finger oils = bad for nail polish.

 Apply a blob of Elmer's Glue to the tip of the popsicle stick and apply the fake nail.  Position the nail on the end of the popsicle stick so that just a tiny bit of the fake nail hangs over the edge of the popsicle stick.  This will help keep all your swatchicles uniform.

 Allow to dry!  I let mine dry overnight.  Don't worry if you see a blob of white glue underneath the fake nail.  It will dry completely clear with time.

How to Paint Swatchicles

 Line up all the polishes you want to make swatchicles for.  If you have a larger collection try making swatchicles for one brand at a time or one collection at a time.

 You don't need base coat because you are painting on fake nails.  Paint one coat of each nail polish onto each swatchicle.  Repeat as needed for each swatchicle until each polish is opaque.

 Allow appropriate dry time.  I like to let them dry overnight just to be sure.

 Finish each swatchicle with the appropriate top coat.  The top coat should suit the polish.  Don't use fast dry top coats like Seche Vite as they are meant to be applied to wet polish only.

 Allow to dry for 24 hours.

***Don't make my mistakes!***  

Swatchicle Don'ts:

 Don't skip the top coat step or you will end up with dull and/or discolored swatches.

 Don't buy a bunch of cheapo top coat and apply it over all of your swatches - again, they will end up dull and/or discolored.

 Be sure to wait at least 24 hours before storing your swatchicles or they will stick together and/or get dented.

 Yes, I redid my entire collection at least 3 times.  :/

How to Label Swatchicles

You can do this any way you like!  Here is how I label mine:

 On the front:  brand name, color name, color number.

 On the back:  collection name, release month and year.

Swatching over Clear Nail Polish

There is only one kind of nail polish that needs to be swatched over clear nail polish:  crackle polish.  Crackle polish won't crackle unless it is layered over another polish.  Here's the how-to:

 Apply one coat of clear nail polish to each swatchicle.  It can be a clear nail polish or a clear top coat.  Don't use a fast dry top coat like Seche Vite as they are meant to work over wet nail polish only.

 Allow the clear polish to dry completely.  This is especially important with crackle polishes - if the layer of polish beneath them isn't completely dry they won't crackle and they'll make a hot mess.

 Apply the crackle polish.  Allow to dry completely (it cracks more this way!).

 Apply the appropriate top coat.

 Allow to dry for 24 hours.

Swatching over Black Nail Polish

Sometimes it's a good idea to swatch certain polishes over black because their true beauty and enhancement purposes cannot be seen otherwise.  Any color can be used as a base for layering but I choose to use black for consistency's sake when making swatchicles.  The CND Effects are a great example - by themselves they don't look like much, but over other colors their loveliness is revealed.  See the above photo to see what I mean.  Here's the how-to:

 Apply a black cream nail polish to each swatchicle.  Wet 'n Wild Black Creme is my favorite.  It's opaque in one coat and has a great formula!

 Allow to dry completely.

 Apply the selected polishes over the black swatches.  One coat is usually enough with most effects polishes and glitter toppers.  You can always add more if you like!

 Apply the appropriate top coat.

 Allow to dry for 24 hours.

The dazzling glitter in OPI Are You a Movie Star? is revealed over black!  O.O

How to Store Swatchicles

As the photo suggests, I store my swatchicles in plain plastic cups right now.  I have them divided by color and a few with subdivisions of color/finish (I haz lots of blue sparkly stuffs).  ;D  Not all my cups are shown in the photo - I have a black/white/gray cup that I wanted to mention because it's a good way to consolidate colors. 

*\o/*  YOU ROCK!!!  *\o/*
Thank you so much for reading my swatchicle tutorial!

Please leave any questions or suggestions in the comments!


  1. WOW!! this is fantastic!! thanks so much for posting such an amazing detailed tutorial. I really REALLY need to do this!! I started on nail wheels, but I need to do it this way. ♥♥
    I need you to come and label my sticks for me with that beautiful writing!
    I will link this to my own blog.

  2. This is amazing! I really appreciate you sharing this idea. :D I've seen people do that method but with plastic sticks with the nails at the end, almost like your popsicle sticks and then attach them all to an O ring clasp. Insta rainbow on the wall!

  3. @BettyThanks! I'm so happy you liked it! <3

  4. Such an awesome idea - I already use nail swatch boards, but you can't sort by colour with 44 nails on a board! I'm definitely doing this - anyone in the Toronto area having trouble finding these nails? I was, but after much searching, I found off-white big toe nails in bags of 50 for $2 each at Jessica Cosmetic Nail and Beauty Supplies on Orfus Road...

  5. Love this post, and I NEED to do this. I've been searching in my nail stores, but no luck finding any one-size fake nails. All the ones I see are variety packs. Is there somewhere online that you know of that sells them? I looked around online too, and no luck. I'm probably just cursed. :-/

  6. great post here! you just gained a new follower :D

  7. @QueenoftheNailI've always bought mine from a local professional nail supply store. They only sell fake nails in baggies of 50 - 100 of a single size. I'm going to do some research and try to find an online etailer that I can recommend. <3

  8. I love this idea...I was looking to purchase the nail wheels or swatch board and i'm so glad that i found your blog...I did my own and I love it i'm letting it dry and need to put a top coat cus i forgot to do that...thank you so much!!! U saved me money..and i like that!!!

  9. Darn! I wish I had seen this before I bought clear nail swatch sticks on Ebay. Well, if those sticks ever break or if I run out, I'll know what to do instead! Thanks for posting this! :)

  10. This is awesome! I had mine on fake finger nails on the ends of qtips but they looked horrible and were impossible to store nicely so I trashed them :( wish I would have seen this before I ordered a bunch of nail wheels!

  11. I love the idea that you have to use false toe nails but I was wondering do you know of any online stores that sell them or are they only available in stores?

  12. @Cynthia I finally found a place online that sells toe tips (size 00)! They sell them in packs of 50 for $1.95. Their minimum shipping is quite high though - $7.95.

    I have never ordered from this company before but I did sign up for an account online. It's necessary to create an account with them before shopping on their site. This is their site:

    This is a link directly to the packs of 50 toe tips (size 00):

    I have had a lot of people ask me if I know of an online vendor who sells the toe tips in bulk packs of 50. I've never been able to find one until now. I hope the nailsuperstore works out.

    Again, I've never ordered from this company before so if anyone has ordered from the nailsuperstore please let me know about your experience. My contact information is in my tabs. :)

    I hope this was helpful! <3

  13. This is a great tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing your tips!

  14. I put mine on nail wheels, because I couldn't conceive of what to do with a bunch of sticks (the cups idea is pretty brilliant). But the advantage of being able to look at all my polishes of a similar color swatched out is awesome, and the storage issue is SO MUCH EASIER when they're organized by brand.

  15. Simple. Elegant. Brilliant. You've solved the conundrum! YAY!

    I would honor you by naming my first born after you, but my last-born is 21 and I'm not having another. ;)

    Thank you!!!!!