I’m including some organizational tips, as I am a person who hates being disorganized. Now, to anyone who has seen the inside of my car, I want to clarify that to me, physical organization does not necessarily refer to being a neat freak, but it does mean being able to find the things you’re looking for with minimal effort.
The place to start, in my humble opinion, is proper storage. Why start there? Well, when was the last time you couldn’t find something, for our sake a polish, and it drove you nuts? In the beginning, this would happen to me more often than I care to admit. My polish lived on nightstands, in bathroom drawers, on top of dressers, and so forth, so when I wanted to find a certain color, I would go a little crazy in my search and frantic over the fear of loss.
Rules for organization; as cliché as it is, “A place for every polish, and every polish in its place.”
This is extremely important because if everything has a consistent place that it goes when not in use, you’ll be able to find it later.
Depending on the size of your stash, you may be fine with a couple of Sterilite bins. For some time, I was able to use a few of the 6 Qt shoebox style bins to store my polishes. I liked these because they fit under the bed, so they were out of the way, they had clear sides, so at a glance I could tell what the contents were, and they were rather inexpensive at roughly $1-$2 each. Depending on the size of the bottle, I found I could squeeze in between 40-50 polishes per container.
Bin from picture from Sterilite.com
My "stash" quickly decided to multiply and demanded more space
If your stash decided to multiply like rabbits, as mine did, the next step up is what is often referred to as a “melmer”. Please keep in mind “melmer” is just a nickname, so you will not get very far looking for it by that name. The most common version of melmer I’ve seen is available for purchase at Michael’s craft store, the JetMax Modular Storage cubes. These are simple plywood cabinets with sliding drawers that fit nail polish perfectly! They aren’t terribly difficult to assemble, though I don’t recommend doing your nails before you start (half joke). They only require a screwdriver and roughly half an hour of your time, but know that when you open the packaging, you’ll find little more than some boards and bits. Purchasing shelf liners is also a great idea- the little bit of grip they add with help preventing polishes from falling over when drawers are opened. These will hold roughly 300 polishes depending on bottle size. I do not really recommend filling them to the max though- this is a plywood storage solution, and if a tray were to give, I can only imagine the mess. Two pieces of advice on this; First, never, never pay full price for these. They are almost always half off, or if not, Michael’s website has printable coupons to make them considerably less expensive. Second, when I assembled mine, loaded it up and used it for the first time, the drawers had a terrible squeak! It was so bad that I didn’t want to open the drawers unless I absolutely had to. After experimenting with a few different lubes (now, now, where has your mind gone?), I found that applying furniture polish, such as the aerosol lemon Pledge, made a world of different. Simply give the rails of the unit a generous spray across the entire length and it should eliminate most, if not all of it.
My "melmer" with shelf liners
A quick look into a drawer that is probably too full. As you can see, I like to sort them by brand, then color
The melmers are where I am currently at, though I do have 2, but beyond that you can find Helmers at Ikea. Helmer is the actual name of this storage unit, and currently you can purchase it in red, silver, or white. This storage unit is metal, does require assembly (let’s not be surprised, it does come from Ikea!), and has six drawers. It can hold between 400-600 bottles of polish depending on the size of the bottles. I wish there was more I could tell you about this unit, but I don’t have any firsthand experience with it. Many people do find it to be a great storage solution, and if you’re an avid nail polish collector who lives near an Ikea, I do recommend checking them out.
A picture of a helmer from Ikea.com
I know these are not the only storage solutions for nail polish, but they are the ones that I have heard the most about.
Things to keep in mind when picking your storage method;
How many polishes do you have and how quickly do you see your collection growing? If knew my polish collection was going to expand so rapidly, I probably would have purchased melmer right away. I have quite a few Sterlite boxes that I’ve gone out of my way to repurpose since they are no longer adequate for my storage needs.
How much space do you have? A helmer is an awesome storage unit, but it needs a reasonable amount of space. I have seen some people get creative and make a desk out of a helmer by just putting a board across two of the units, which eliminated the need for some additional furniture. I was able to fit my melmers on top of a short filing cabinet I have, and I’m quite happy because it puts most of them eye level.
Does it protect your polishes? The physical protection is an important factor to me. I have a cat and a dog- the cat is notorious for batting things off tables and dressers, and I would simply hate for my dog to mistake a polish for a toy. Keeping them in my melmer when not in use keeps them safe. I also recommend the melmer or helmer to keep sunlight from getting to the polish. Exposure to light can affect pigments over time, and in my experience, also causes the polish to separate faster.
I hope this has been helpful!
How do you store your polish?
How big is your collection?