Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Anna's Ridiculous Stash- Don't Judge Me

First, let me start this post by saying that I am a crazy person. Not because I have a ridiculous amount of nail polish (I do) but because of the insane way I organize the nail polish I own. I could also reorganize everything all day every day if you let me. There are so many possibilities! Brand? Color? Finish? Collection? So many choices! With that said, this is a very long, very picture-heavy post. You've been warned. I hope you enjoy it! I like knowing how others organize their stashes so maybe you do too? Here's hoping!

When I buy a new bottle of polish, I swatch it on a nail stick (more on that below), log it into my spreadsheet, label it in two different ways and then finally, I add it to the appropriate drawer in one of the pieces of furniture that I own for the sole purpose of storing nail polish.

Also, this post isn't 100% accurate and up-to-date. Putting this all together made me decide to pull a lot of polishes out of my stash and put in a separate box to be added to a blog sale later on. I swap polishes regularly with other bloggers and I'm always adding new stuff. So if you see something you'd like to see a post about, let me know and I still might have it. But I also might not.

Ok. Let's start with the first step. Swatching! I have swatched every polish I own on one of these nail sticks. Some people like using nail wheels to keep track of their stashes. I didn't think the wheels would work well as my collection grows. I use wheels mainly for nail art practice and layering experiments. 

The sticks are available on eBay, mostly from China, for various prices. Don't forget that when you order something from one of these places in China, it can take over a month to arrive at your door! Some places ship from the US but the prices are much higher.

When you visit eBay, type "nail art display stick" into the search and you'll see what I mean. There are a few different styles and they come in "natural" and clear. I have read on a few blogs that the clear ones can sometimes cause polishes to dry matte. To prevent this, I start with a base coat on the stick. I got a bunch of bottles of the Finger Paints base coat for free through a promotion at Sally's awhile back so I've got plenty on hand! I like using both the white and the clear ones. I've found that some of the white sticks end up with jagged edges that need filing. I've never had that problem with the clear ones.

I prefer to use the clear sticks for jellies, pale and sheer colors. I prefer to use the white sticks for glitters and cremes. If I'm swaching a layering polish or a flake glitter, I'll paint half of a white nail stick black and leave the other half natural. That way, I can see how the polish looks with and without a base color (or, as I prefer to say, "underwear").

I told you I was crazy.

That's Mo. He helps me organize.
After I swatch a new polish I organize the stick! I keep sticks grouped together on binder rings. Sometimes I organize by finish. Sometimes I organize by color. Sometimes I organize by whatever feels right. Yeah. I said it.


Here's one of the binder rings. You'll notice that each swatch is labeled. All of my polishes are numbered within their brand on my spreadsheet. I put a number label on each bottle too. So let's say I buy a new Finger Paints color. I open the spreadsheet on my computer and see that I already own 12 Finger Paints polishes. The new one gets added to the spreadsheet, I put a label that says 13 on the top and add a neon dot sticker to it. The neon dot sticker lets me know that I have yet to wear/blog about this polish. Now when I swatch the new color on a nail stick, I write "13 Finger Paints" across the stick.

Make sense? Of course not. I'm completely nuts.

The whole reason I do all of this is because I honestly own too many bottles of polish. I can't keep them straight! This system helps me see them and find them when I want to. If I want to wear a blue polish I can just grab one of the binder rings that have blue swatches and pick from there. The stick is labeled with the brand and number so it's easy for me to find it in a drawer. It's over-complicated and it works for me. Do not try this at home. Or do. And drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with it!

On to the swatches! First by finish or type, then in rainbow order. 'Natch.

Colored glitters in clear base
Black, white, silver and gold glitters in clear base
Flakies with no underwear
Flakies with black underwear
Layering polishes with no underwear
Layering polishes with black underwear (and a few crackles)
Scattered holos
Linear holos
I LOVE my linear holos
Bright pinks
Yellows and golds
Turquoise-y blues
Dusty and vampy blues
Silvery blues
True blues
Blue-leaning purples
Red-leaning purples
Browns and nudes
Whites and white-based glitters
Grays and silvers
Blacks and black-based glitters

Ok, so there are all of my swatches. Now where do I put everything? Read on!

I have two pieces of furniture to house my stash. A Helmer and a Melmer. A Helmer is a 6-drawer organizer from IKEA. It cost me $40. A Melmer is not a real thing. Well, it is but you can't walk into a store and ask them if they carry a Melmer. They do not carry anything called a Melmer. They will think you are crazy. A Melmer is a 3-drawer cube organizer that you can find at pretty much any craft store and probably stores like Target too. I bought the one I have from Michael's on sale (half off to be exact) for around $17. Nail bloggers call them Melmers and no one else does! 

I decided that I prefer my Helmer. Since I took these pictures and started putting this post together, I went out and bought another one. Here's a run-down of what I like and don't like about each one.

Helmer- It's only 11 inches wide and it fits right between my chair and heater. It's made of aluminum and kind of reminds me of a school locker. It has wheels so it's easier to move around. It's off-white so it goes well with the look of my apartment. The drawers open and close easily but sometimes I'll find a little dust on top of the polishes in the corners from the paint rubbing off in spots. It holds 500 polishes!

Melmer- It's WHITE and 14 inches wide. Of course it has only three drawers but it's easy to buy a few of them to stack. The top two drawers open and close very easily but the bottom one has the most awful squeak I've ever heard in my life. I've tried everything. The whole thing is made of coated particle board and Michael's sells different drawer pulls so you can change up the look of them pretty easily. I've also seen a lot of bloggers who cover them with fun patterned paper to make them match a room. Michael's usually has 40% off coupons floating around so you shouldn't have to pay full price for one!

Whichever one you prefer, don't forget to buy some shelf liner to put in each drawer! Shelf liner is rubbery and tacky enough so when you place your polishes inside, they won't slide around or fall over every time you open a drawer!

Let's start with the Melmer. I keep boring stuff in there :P

Ok so I have a Melmer with one of those Rubbermaid organizers sitting on top of it. My parents gave me the Rubbermaid one. And by "gave me" I mean I saw it at my parent's house and asked my mom, "Can I have that?" and she said yes. Thanks mom!

I keep wood cuticle sticks and markers on top of this stack.

Rubbermaid organizer-

First drawer- Nail wheels, blank swatch sticks, random pigments and a franken. I obviously have no idea what to do with this drawer.

Second drawer- Nail art supplies. Stripers, dotting tools, brushes, makeup sponges and some other things

Third drawer- Stamping supplies. That flower photo album has all of my stamping plates in it. Plus my Konad stamper and scraper (I prefer using an expired credit card as a scraper) and my favorite black stamping polish, Sinful Colors Black on Black. At the bottom of the drawer is a mat I use every time I stamp. It makes clean-up much easier!

Now, the Melmer.

First drawer- Swatch sticks!

Second drawer- Top coats, base coats, treatments, files, cuticle oils, polish thinner, etc.

Bottom drawer- Random boxes I didn't want to get rid of, tape, extra cuticle sticks, q-tips, labels, binder rings. Pretty much my polish junk drawer.

And now the fun stuff! I keep polish remover, cuticle remover, 100% acetone, glycerin and any polishes I need to blog about/review ASAP on top of the Helmer.

Labeled drawers! <3

Top drawer- OPI
Notice the number labels on every bottle and the neon dot stickers on top of my untrieds? Totally normal.

Second drawer- Sinful Colors, Finger Paints, indies

Third drawer- Urban Outfitters, Essie, butter LONDON, Zoya, Color Club, Rescue Beauty Lounge, Deborah Lippmann, Glitter Gal, Chanel. What do all of these polishes have in common? Square bottles.

Fourth drawer- China Glaze

Fifth drawer- This drawer has turned into a "whatever fits" drawer. Almost all of my international polishes are in here (except Glitter Gal) but that's the only theme going on here. Brands include- Barielle, Gap, Essence, Revlon, piCture pOlish, Julep, Pure Ice, $OPI, Funky Fingers, Hits, Rimmel, Orly, Nails Inc., Urba Decay, Claire's and I might have missed some.

Bottom drawer- This started as my "drugstore brand" drawer but that ended up spilling into the drawer above it so now it's just whatever fits. Brands include- Wet n Wild, Sally Hansen, Milani, NYC Collection, NYX, L'Oreal, Pixel, Sally Girl, Savvy, Icing, Kleancolors, H&M and a few brands I only have one of.

Phew! That's all for now. I should say that Blogger ate this post early last night. That means I pretty much finished the whole thing and it just disappeared before I could finish and post it. So if it seems scattered that's because I wrote it twice! I hope this post managed to give you some ideas for your own stash :)


  1. I am in awe of you. I bow down to the master!

  2. What an absolutely awesome post! Thank you so much for making it, it was great reading!! :)

  3. Ahh this is brilliant, I wish I was this organised! Puts my storage post to shame!
    I'd love to see some of the Kleancolors - it's not a brand we have in the UK as far as I'm aware, and I've only got 3 in my collection!
    Great post, very jealous of the collection! xoxo

    1. I could definitely do a few Kleancolor posts! They have some great scattered holos. I've got one on my toes now :)

  4. This is literally the most amazing thing I've seen.

  5. WOW that's a great collection and well organized! :D

  6. Genius! My stash has grown by leaps and bounds and I need a way to organize. I'm thinking there is a Helmer in my future. For now they are all stored in plastic "shoe boxes" that I bought at Walmart or Zellers. No specific pattern there either - basically as they come in they get placed in a box. I love the idea of swatching on those nail sticks too. Thanks for the ideas! :)

  7. I love it! And as a virgo, I completely appreciate your organization skills! Thanks for sharing.

  8. This is absolutley amazing!

    1. I have another Helmer now. It's so much better!

  9. I can't help but admire your insanity, because this is what I'm like...
    And a question: I see that you have those Fran Wilson nail tees. Are they nice/good/useful? I wanted to get some for cleanup after manis but I wasn't sure if they were any good or not.

    1. I'm meh about them. I prefer using a q-tip for the big stuff (much cheaper!) and a thin brush dipped in acetone for the finer details. The pointy end kind of stays too pointy to really work for me.

    2. Yeah I use a q-tip for the bigger stuff but I feel like I wouldn't really be able to use a brush effectively. At least not with my non-dominant hand.

    3. Grace, Robin here. I use a brush for cleanup, too, and even with my non-dominant hand it's no problem. Just hold your brush against the container to let most of the acetone drip off.

    4. Oh really? I'll have to give that a try then. Thanks!

  10. I want to switch to these sticks for my swatches. I've been using color wheels, but they are useless when it comes to organizing and if you need to remove any polishes. Anyway...I wanted your opinion on which sticks you prefer: the white or the clear? Since I see that you use both.

    1. I started out only purchasing the white ones because of the alleged mattifying of the clear ones. I always start with a base coat on the clear ones so I don't know how true it is! The company I most recently ordered from sent me the clear ones by mistake and I ended up really liking them too.

      The clear ones are made from a thicker plastic so they seem a little sturdier and I like how they show me how much coverage a polish gives. Jellies really look like jellies on the clear ones and not the white ones. But I hate how colored glitters look over the clear ones! They need a background to pop off of, you know?

      So in my expert (totally crazy lady) opinion, you need both!

  11. This is inspiring! Definitely gave me some ideas for organization!

  12. Somehow I missed this post until I saw it pinned--I am just in awe! If the mere thought didn't give me a headache, I might considered re-swatching my stash on sticks because they look like so much fun to play with. (Never mind where I'd store thousands of sticks--yet another Helmer?)

    1. Do you already follow one of us on Pinterest or did you get here that way? That's pretty exciting if my stash is making the Pinterest rounds!

      The sticks are the BEST and I'm pretty sure you need them ;) I'm about to get another Melmer so that I can keep my sticks better organized! Totally crazy, I know.

  13. your a girl aftrr my own heart...love it

  14. Putting stickers on the lids of your untrieds?! Genius!!!! I am so going to steal that from you! :)

  15. Stunning! I aspire to get my collection as big as yours, bravo!

  16. So...I'm nearly at a 600 bottle stash of polish and I'm JUST getting around to looking for swatch sticks. Crazy right? I'm setting myself for the crazy house I tell ya! I found my way here based on your post about the nail sticks! New follower. :) I'm over at www.thatgaljenna.com if you want to stop by!