If you’ve ever though, “What’s one more nail polish? They’re small,” this post is for you.
The best thing I did when my partner started giving me the side-eye over ordering new nail polish is buy an organizer. He’s a bit of neat freak and my polishes had overflowed their plastic bin so that it was impossible to find the color I wanted without dumping the whole thing out. With my new organizer, I can see all the colors I have at a glance while being able to slip the compact shape out of sight. Storage is a limited commodity in my tiny apartment and my organizer ended up saving me a ton of space.
I even had some extra empty slots in my organizer that I could then fill with new polishes guilt-free since the storage was already there. Of course, I’ve now filled that one to capacity, but my partner told me, “Buy another organizer. They’re easy to store.” Hearing that felt like winning the lottery.
Storage or display: which is best for you?
The biggest factor in deciding what kind of organizer is best for you is whether or not you want something that will keep your polishes out for easy access and for everyone to see or something that you can store under your bed, out of the way.
Display organizers are great because they give you easy access to your polishes at all times. You can see all the colors you have with a glance and they look beautiful too. For more of these types of organizers and salon-grade displays, read my guide to the Best Nail Polish Racks and Stands.
Not everyone has the space to display their polish collection out in the open, but luckily there are tons of storage options that allow you to stow all your polishes neatly in a container you can stash away under your bed or in your closet. Storage options are also much more portable than display types making it much easier to tote your entire collection around your home or across town to a see client or just to do your nails with your friends.
Are you storing your nail polish wrong?
There is enough nail polish in a standard-size bottle that if you polished your nails once a week, you could wear that one color for about a year. This is also another argument against deciding to use up what you have before buying the polishes you’re really into right now. It’s going to take you a long time to use up a polish.
Does nail polish go bad? Not really. While some consumer guidelines may say you should toss your lacquers two to three years after opening, the polish itself doesn’t actually expire. When we think about things going bad, we tend to think of microbes. The ingredients in nail polish make it an extremely inhospitable place where bacteria won’t survive so ail polish doesn’t “spoil” or become more harmful to use even after years, but it can become thicker or clumpy if stored incorrectly. As long as you take care of it, it should last forever.
How to make your polish last.
Temperature. Exposing your nail polish to extremes in temperature, particularly heat, is bad for the formula. Heat can affect the solvents that keep your lacquer a liquid causing it to thicken or separate. This is also the reason why you shouldn’t store your nail polish in the bathroom–showering creates frequent changes of temperature and humidity which isn’t great for polish.
Sunlight. If left in the sun, the color of your polishes will fade. Just like when you move your furniture you can see where the sunlight has faded your carpet, exposure to sunlight will dim your colors, so keep them in a cool dark place.
Position. It’s recommended that you always store your polish bottles upright. When polishes sit for a long time, they are bound to have some separation so you always want to shake or roll the polish in your hands to evenly distribute the color. When your bottles are stored upright, the color settles on the bottle making it much easier to redistribute with a shake. Redistributing is harder when the settling is on the side of the bottle instead of the bottom.
That said, I totally store my polishes on their sides. I know I shouldn’t, but this storage solution that works for my living situation. Honestly, I haven’t had any problems.
Keep those caps clean. One of the biggest causes of thickening is evaporation. If the cap or neck of your bottle is gunked up with nail polish, your nail polish bottles won’t close properly. Without an airtight seal, your polishes will thicken over time. If you have to struggle to open your lacquer or if little rings of dried nail polish fall out of the cap when you do–you need to clean your bottles. Take some non-acetone nail polish remover and wipe the inside of the cap and the neck of the bottle, careful not to get any remover in the bottle itself. Your polish will last longer and be easier to open.
When your polish is already thick or clumpy. Hope is not lost. Your lacquer can be saved. Just add a nail polish thinner, which replaces the evaporated solvents, a few drops at a time until you get the consistency that you want. For regular polish, I’d recommend Seche Restore. For gel and shellac polish, go with Gelos Gel Thinner by LeChat.
Now that we’ve covered how to store your nail polish, let’s go over the best options for storing your bottles in.
1. Best Overall Nail Polish Organizer: Makartt Universal Adjustable Nail Polish Organizer
I bought myself this storage bin last year and I love it. This plastic nail polish briefcase holds around 48 bottles of polish, 24 on each side, and stores them in a compact, efficient way. The plastic isn’t completely clear, but you can easily see through it to identify your colors. The organizer opens on both sides so there’s no need to remove the top level to get to the polish underneath, just close the container, flip it over, and open the other side. It fits all my nail polish brands no problem and there’s an adjustable row so you can create a larger compartment for tools, nail files, or particularly tall polishes.
A handle on the top of the case to make it easy to carry, though it can get a little heavy when full, I’ve never had a problem with the latches opening on me unless I try to stack two skinny polishes to a compartment to save space so that the cover won’t close right, so learn from my lesson. I do sort of wish I had bought their larger version which holds 60 nail polishes, but that’s definitely the one I’m buying next.
Price: From $24.99
- Two sizes fit 48 and 60 polishes
- Easy to organize
- Compact and flat for storage
- Can get heavy
- Won’t fit very thick polishes like Smith & Cult
2. Best Spinning Nail Polish Organizer: Jack Cube Design 5 Tier Rotating Nail Polish Stand
If you prefer your polish to be in reach, this carousel by Jack Cube Design is a good option. This five-tier rotating stand holds around 150 bottles of polish while still making every polish visible by spinning the stand around. The stand itself is unobtrusive enough to fit in with any color scheme with clear acrylic shelves and thin black iron rails to keep your bottles secure. Its shelving is wide enough to fit most brands including OPI. There’s a handle at the very top of the rack to make moving it around easier, but I wouldn’t call this portable. The only down side is that it does require some assembly when you get it, but it’s fairly simple to put together. If five tiers seems like a little much, Jack Cube Design also carries a three-tier version.
- Holds around 150 bottles
- Polish is always easily acessable
- Can quickly see all your polishes/li>
- Choice of sizes
- Some assembly required
- Takes up counter space
3. Best Portable Nail Polish Organizer: Kiota Soft-Sided Nail Polish Storage Cube
Kiota takes the portability, large capacity, and ease of storage of the Makartt, but makes it look way nicer. This quilted bag can hold up to 75 nail polish bottles divided into three smaller bags that stack inside the larger one. Each bag can be used together as a set or individually as the smaller bags also have handles so you can grab just one and go if that’s all you need. You have a lot of options to play with here.
It’s soft-sided and the large bag has an adjustable and removable shoulder strap as well as an attached handle. Since the organizer bags are open, you have more freedom than a bin with compartments to store odd-shaped polishes and nail polish tools. Each small bag has a transparent cover so you can get a better idea of what’s in the pouch, but it is harder to see all your polishes in this configuration. This Kiota Storage Cube is available in Aqua, Azure, Bubblegum, Canary, Orchid, Slate, and Teal.
- Holds around 75 bottles
- Choice of colors
- Looks nice enough to leave out
- Each piece can be used individual
- Easy to store
- Soft-sided bags have less protection than hard case
- Harder to see all your colors
4. Best Train Case Nail Polish Organizer: Shany Color Matters Nail Polish Train Case
For a more traditional makeup style train case, Shany has their Color Matters series Nail Polish Train Case. This hard, faux leather covered train case has a lockable top compartment with 24 removable and adjustable compartments for nail polish bottles and a pull-out drawer with open storage space. There’s a small mirror and six elastic loops on the top cover which are a good size to store short brushes or dotting tools. The lid and drawer both latch shut securely and the lower drawer can fit another 24 nail polish bottles with room on top for larger items. There’s also a long pouch along the back great for nail files and orange sticks.
I like that the open space gives you lots of options to store nail tools or larger nail polish bottles. This isn’t a good choice, however, if you want to be able to see all your colors easily and quickly. You can always paint a dot of the polish on top of the caps, but you still need to open it. The hard case provides protection and the shape makes it easy to store, though it doesn’t use its space as efficiently as others. It does come in eight fun colors though, including Bird of Paradise, Vicious Blue, and Sugar Gum.
Price: From $28.84 (18 percent off MSRP)
- Holds around 50 bottles
- Customizable compartments
- Colors to choose from
- Open space for tools
- A little bulky
- Can’t instantly see all your colors
5. Best Hanging Nail Polish Organizer: Nail Polish Organizing Wall Rack
I recently featured this organizer on my Best Nail Polish Racks & Stands article. It holds around 102 bottles and keeps your polishes at the tips of your fingers at all times. The clear acrylic shelving hold most brands including OPI and won’t obscure your bottles so it’s easy to see every polish. The At 20 inches wide and 24 inches tall, it’s a good size for home or as a smaller rack in a salon. It arrives completely assembled with mounting hardware included.
- Holds around 102 bottles
- Clear view of all colors
- Comes pre-assembled
- Works for home or in a salon
- Too large for some
- Not portable
6. Most Unique Nail Polish Organizer: YouCopia Bottlestack Nail Polish Organizer
The Bottlestack organizer by YouCopia has a very different and much more refined look to it. It can hold up to 36 bottles of nail polish so while it’s not perfect for large collections, its petite shape and unique design make it a great option for smaller collections, favorites, or often used items like top and base coats. The Bottlestack is made of sturdy plastic with four pull out drawers that swing down so you can more easily view the contents. Shelving platforms on the drawers keep nail polish bottles from falling even at a steep tilt. It will fit most universal sized bottles but doesn’t have as much wiggle room as others for larger bottles. The design keeps your polish out of harmful sunlight, but you can’t immediately see all of your colors.
Price: $20.04 (20 percent off MSRP)
- Holds around 36 bottles
- Classier lines
- Unique drawer design
- Keeps polish away from sunlight
- Comes pre-assembled
- Not for large collections
- Not portable
7. Best Display Nail Polish Organizer: Tabletop Nail Polish Stand
For a display on your manicure table at the salon or your vanity at home, this Tabletop Nail Polish Stand takes up a bit of real estate, but looks so satisfying. The stadium bleacher style has five tiers and holds around 60 nail polish bottles. The row shape means it can fit larger shape brands like OPI with no problem. At the bottom of the stand are two drawers for storing your accessories and tools like nail files, orange sticks, and alcohol prep pads. It’s made of clear, hard acrylic so it’s easy to see what’s in your drawers and quickly take stock of all your polish colors even though they are stacked. This stand does require some assembly.
- Holds around 60 bottles
- Great as a display
- Two storage drawers
- Easy to access and see all colors
- Not portable
- Takes up counter space
- Assembly required
8. Best Travel Nail Polish Organizer: Kiota Nail Polish & Manicure Set Storage Case
If you’re only looking a travel bag, the Kiota Manicure Set Storage Case is a great travel companion. This one lunch-box sized bag unzips to reveal two smaller matching bags, one shorter for accessories and tools and one taller bag designed to store 18 nail polish bottles. There are two mesh pockets for organization and a foam base in the nail polish bag with cut-outs for your polish so your bottles will stay secure and not bounce around or clack against each other while you’re traveling. That does limit the size and shape of your polish bottles, but the foam insert is removable if you won’t want it. It’s cute, convenient, and a good travel buddy. This bag comes in eight colors including Midnight Black with Pink, Azure, Canary, and Slate.
- Holds around 18 bottles
- Space for accessories
- Protective foam
- Choice of colors
- Doesn’t hold much
- Slightly limited in bottle size if you use the foam insert
9. Best Cute Nail Polish Organizer: 3 Tier Nail Polish Organizer Carousel
Large enough to work as a display at a salon but small enough to fit on your dresser at home, the Three Tier Nail Carousel holds around 60 polishes. It spins to easily view all of your polishes quickly and comes full assembled. All metal construction means this is quite sturdy and the scroll-work hearts add a cute, feminine touch. The curved rows aren’t quite big enough for Smith & Cult bottles but they do fit OPI. It’s heftier than some of the others to begin with so keep that in mind when placing it on delicate, easy to scratch furniture.
- Holds around 60 bottles
- Easy to see and access colors quickly
- Attractive display
- Not portable
10. Best Nail Polish Organizer for Teens: Songmics Nail Polish Organizer Train Case
In a similar style to the Shany train case, this case by Songmics holds around 24 polishes in its top section and has an open drawer in the bottom section for more polish, accessories, or tools. This train case has a tough aluminum casing and lockable top drawer for security. A much larger mirror sits in the lid along with six elastic loops for holding dotting tools and brushes. The bottle organizing compartments are removable and customizable so you can adjust as needed for different shaped bottles. The metal handle has a comfortable curve for travel and the shape makes it easy to stow away out of sight.
Price: $35.99 (10 percent off MSRP)
- Holds around 50 bottles
- Storage for tools
- Can’t quickly see all your colors
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