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Friday, April 8, 2011

Franken Polish Base Experiments

Links checked 12/12/13

Updated 4/26/12- Don't forget to check Suspension Base Suppliers & Notes for all possible sources.

TKB Trading's Franken Polish Bases have now been out 4 months but there are only 2 customer reviews on their website and there hasn't been much talk about them on the internet (not counting TKB Trading's own forum). I'm going to co ntribute my opinion today but let's start with the basics.

Currently TKB Trading has them priced at:
Clear Coat
1oz $3.95              4oz $10.00
($1.97/bottle)         ($1.25/bottle, $2.50/oz)

Luster Base for mica/Glamour Base for glitter/Matte Base for matte finish
1oz $5.50              4oz $12.00
($2.25/bottle)         ($1.50/bottle, $3.00/oz)

Colored Bases: Black, White, Blue, Red & Yellow
1oz $5.75              4oz $14.00
($2.88/bottle)       ($1.75/bottle, $3.50/oz)

The 1oz size is enough to fill 2 regular polish bottles while the 4oz is enough for 8 bottles. The prices in parentheses are what it breaks down to per ounce of base and per bottle of nail polish (before adding other things).

The price is reasonable and whether you choose to buy it and use it is up to you. If you don't, what you usually get is this:

Both of these, Capricorn Sea and Libra Blues (made before the franken bases were available), are very settled after sitting around for a year but still perfectly usable and apply as if I'd just made them once mixed up well. The issue of course is the effort required to mix them again.

If you do choose to use one of the Franken Polish Bases and use them effectively the end result is worth the price…
…But the cost adds up fast when you can make ten bottles on a whim. I think about these things so when I first started working with the Franken Polish Bases, I diluted them to cut down on the expense as well as using them in conjunction with Magnesium Stearate. And yes, it is possible to dilute them and still be effective as long as some thought is given to formulation.

I don't like flat paint on my walls and I don't care for it on my nails so I've used all the bases TKB Trading offers except the Matte Base. Individual opinions below.

The Clear Coat is exactly what you'd expect it to be, crystal clear with the consistency and drying time of your typical top coat. Used alone, it will not keep pigments or glitter suspended. It, like other clear polishes, can be used to thin out polishes that end up too thick.

The colored bases are all highly pigmented so they aren't sheer but their consistency is thicker than that of a regular polish. The few times I have used them at full strength, I felt the formula was too thick to apply smoothly so I thinned it out by adding clear polish or thinner.  

When I used the white base to try dotting an artificial nail with a dotting tool, it left behind imperfect dots as seen below. I'm sure part of their imperfection was due to my "technique" but the thickness prevented a clean break from the surface, leaving teardrop shapes or little white tails.
I don't believe the colored bases were intended to keep pigments suspended (alone) but it will small amounts, particularly if you combine the colored base with some Glamour or Luster base or (possibly) store bought polish.

The Glamour and Luster bases are what I have used the most and in varying amounts. Draw your own conclusions from my experiments. "Drop(s)" is a measurement referring to TKB's Drop spoon from their mini spoon set when used with dry pigments.

I used the Glamour base with Sterling Silver Glitter from Coastal Scents
and as part of the experiment added 11 drops of Magnesium Stearate to a mixture of ¾ clear polish and 7 drops of the glitter. It settled within 30 minutes so I added ¼ Glamour base and it has stayed suspended.

One of my flubs, an unnamed yellow gold, is another good example of the power of TKB's Franken Polish Bases. The bottle ended up being a combination of ¼ L.A. Colors Wavelength (Color Craze line), ¼ Luster base, ¼ Glamour base and ¼ clear with the following Coastal Scents' pigments: 2 drops of Gold Rush, 2 drops Paradise Star Gold, 2 drops Sparkle Gold, 2 drops 24 Karat Gold, 4 drops Pearlescent Sparkling Pure Gold. Even with that large an amount of pigment, it's still suspended.

Another flub of mine, an unnamed aqua is a combination of: ¼ clear polish, ¼ SH Emerald City. ¼ L.A. Colors Wired (Color Craze line, royal blue color), ¼ Luster base, and 10 total drops ®Lawless, one of my recipes. This amount has surprisingly stayed suspended.

Travel to Venus and Travel to Jupiter were two more "successful suspensions" when used with the Luster base.

Starting with Travel to Venus, I used ¼ Luster base, 30 (liquid) drops of a store bought black polish (L.A. Colors Black Velvet) and ½ clear polish. I then added 6 smidgen of Travel to Venus, making it a 3-coat polish. I duplicated the process with the remaining 6 Travel to's and all of them stayed suspended. After the fact, I intentionally overloaded them all in varying amounts with pigment. The two I'd added the least extra, Travel to Jupiter and Travel to Venus, have stayed suspended to this day and apply fairly well. The other five settled and have an overly-white cast as expected. You can read more about Jupiter's formulation here: Franken: (Travel to) Jupiter.

A partially successful polish I made was a mixture of ¼ Glamour base, 2/4 clear polish and 8 drops TKB's Turquoise Tweak. The ¼ of Glamour base wasn't strong enough to keep that amount of Turquoise Tweak suspended so I added 6 drops Magnesium Stearate but as with the Sterling Silver Glitter, the Magnesium Stearate failed- immediate settling. I drained it down to less than ½, more than ¼ into separate bottle, added clear to about 2/3 & added Coastal Scents's Sparkle Blue. The reason it qualifies for partially successful is that some of the Turquoise Tweak and Sparkle Blue has stayed suspended even though there is a minimal amount of Glamour base.

"Tweeker" was a project I used TKB's syringes for and started out in a mini bottle. The base is a combo of  1 ½ ml yellow base, 1 ml blue base, and 1 ml Clear Coat, drained into a regular size bottle with +22 drops blue base, 34 drops yellow base added making it 1/3 full. Adding 3 drops of TKB's Turquoise Tweak required that I add Glamour Base which I did, up to the ¾ mark (I mark the bottles). While there has been some settling, there has also been some that stayed suspended and it looks like what it's supposed to look like, a sparkly green, before I shake it up.

All in all, I'm pleased with the effectiveness of TKB Trading's Franken Polish Bases and think they are an indispensable supply to have handy and even reasonably priced to boot. Hopefully my experiments have given you some ideas for using them in your own frankens. -MK

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  1. Thank you so much for the detail review and experiment! There are very little discussion about the TKB franken polishes, even counting TKB Trading's own forum. I found your blog post very informative.

    Is there a different between Luster Base and Glamour Base, other than the suspension property? Since they cost the same and I'm sure Glamour base can suspense mica as well, I wonder if I should just buy the Glamour Base. Thanks.

  2. You're welcome for the info. As for whether you should buy one or both, that's up to you. I'm sure the glitter base would also keep pigments suspended but its not going to apply quite the same since its thicker. The mica base is not going to keep glitter suspended though so if you decide to go with one, I'd buy the glamour base. Or buy both and just buy a larger quantity of the glitter base.

  3. I've heard that the glamour base applies a little matte, is this true?

    1. I don't believe so but I don't have any luster base to compare at the moment. I would think a good topcoat can compensate if it does.

  4. Did you ever try Magnesium Stearate as a "suspender" on its own? Does it suspend the pigment at all? As far as I understood your experiments, it doesn't do the trick. Too bad. I hope TKB will ship the glamour base internationally soon. I really need it ;)

    1. Magnesium Stearate does not work as a suspension agent for nail polish. It will thicken formulas and make them slightly cloudy but cannot suspend pigments or glitter and I've tried both.

    2. Can I just use the glamour base by its self with the glitter insted of mixing things up

  5. Ive been looking to get into indie polish making with out frankening 2 store brands. Any advice or recommended web sites that give you indie ingredients ?

  6. how long did it take for your luster base to dry? i mixed it with shimmer raspberry pop and it doesn't seem to dry at all when i do a second coat of polish

    1. It didn't seem to take extremely long to dry but I think the more pigment you use in the mix, the longer it seems to take. I would try using less pigment, thinner coats and give it a bit longer in between and see if that helps.


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