Five Ways to Use Nail Polish and Nail Polish Bottles in Cosplay

Nail polish bottles seem to pile up in my bathroom despite the fact that I don’t wear nail polish on a regular basis. I don’t sift through and dispose of old bottles as often as I should, but that occasionally comes in handy. I can clean out the bottles and use them for other products or to store beads for crafting, and they could also be used in cosplay – the nail polish or the bottles. Here are five ways you can use nail polish and the bottles in cosplay:

nail polish gemstones

Make gemstones – Planning a costume that features gemstones? You can use nail polish to add some impressive looking color and sparkle to either gems you cast from resin, flat glass rocks like you’d get for an aquarium or in the floral department at craft stores, or cheap plastic gems. You just need to paint the backs of those items with different colors of nail polish – the glitter kind looks great – and foil. You can read a complete tutorial on this by Dian at DeviantArt.

Fake ammunition – The caps of nail polish bottles are just about the right size for turning into fake bullets. You can break or cut off the applicator brush on the inside, thoroughly clean the cap, and paint it to go with your costume. The cylindrical tops can also be used to add texture to armor.

Anna boots

Paint touch-ups – Old nail polish isn’t by any means a substitute for paint, but if you only need to cover a small surface area and you’re in a bind, it can work. I’ve painted metal earrings for an everyday Captain America cosplay using nail polish, and it was a fine solution. Nail polish would also work for painting rivets, spikes, or baked polymer clay. You can seal it with Mod Podge. The heels on the above Anna boots by Maria were painted with nail polish.

Potion bottles – Nail polish bottles are small and light, which makes them perfect for turning into portable potions bottles. You can use these in a witch or wizard costume, a mad scientist look, and steampunkers often seem to have vials attached to their outfits. To completely clean out nail polish bottles, you’ll need pure acetone. Dump out any remaining nail polish and use acetone to dissolve the rest. Once all the polish is gone, wash it with soap and water. Then you can add your potions. You could also use the nail polish residue in the bottle to add color to whatever you’re brewing.

Use it as nail polish – My last suggestion sounds obvious, but if you’re not a person who paints his or her nails a lot (like me), it may not occur to you to extend the costume to your nails. If you want to be as accurate as possible, take a minute to look at screen caps and see if the character you’re dressing as is wearing nail polish. Amy Pond from Doctor Who is a good example; she wears several different colors on the series. Once you have images, you can dig through your collection to see if you have anything that’s close to matching.

A quick note about what not to do with nail polish: don’t rely on clear nail polish as a sealer. It’s not going to last. You can use it in a pinch, but don’t expect it to be a long term fix.

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