What Is A Nail Mail?

21 Jan

What’s a nail mail? How do I find a nail mail buddy? These are a couple of the many questions I get asked on Instagram. I am often dubbed as the nail mail fairy/queen on IG. Allow me to introduce you to the wonderful (and not so wonderful) world of NAIL MAIL. Let us begin with the basics.

“What’s a nail mail?”
There are two different types of nail mail.

1. Polish orders. You order some polishes online and it gets mailed to you. Some people on Instagram use this hashtag #nailmail to show their polish buys that they have received in the mail.

2. Nail mail with a nail mail buddy. You find a nail mail buddy to do some nail mail. You will send her a nail mail package and she will send you a nail mail package. Often, people on Instagram will use this hashtag #nailmail to show their amazing nail mail packages that they have received from their nail mail buddies.

“How do I find a nail mail buddy?”
There are several different ways in finding one.

1. People sometimes post on IG (Instagram) that they are looking for a nail mail buddy. You can reply to those posts. You can search through #nailmail or #nailmailbuddy on IG.

2. You can post on IG that you are looking for a nail mail buddy. Be sure to include the following hashtags #nailmailbuddy and #nailmail. It is important to include these so when a person that looks through pictures using these hashtags they will have better chances of finding your picture. Be sure to mention if you’re seeking a domestic or an international nail mail buddy.

3. Occasionally, I will post on IG allowing “experienced” nail mail buddies to adopt “newbies.” Be sure to keep an eye out for those posts! You can find me at justricarda on IG!

“Ok! I found a nail mail buddy, now what?”
Here’s some etiquette and tips to get you started.

1. You and your nail mail buddy will need to discuss and decide on a budget or number of polishes to send to each other. Be realistic and be honest!

2. It is considered rude to send USED polishes unless it has been discussed prior to the swap. In some situations, I have sent an used nail polish to someone because it was a HTF or a discontinued polish. I made sure that the other person was aware it was used and that the remaining amount in the polish bottle was acceptable to that person.

3. If you are looking for something specific, make sure that the other person is aware of this. Some people do share their wishlists. Having said that, it is also nice to be surprised.

4. Be FAIR! Don’t say you want Butter London polishes and you send her some Wet ‘n Wild nail polishes. I don’t have to elaborate further on this. It’s just common sense.

5. Agree on the date to ship it by and stick with it! Often, I hear stories about a nail mail buddy being very late in shipping theirs (like by weeks and months!). This is not acceptable.

6. It is important to ship your polishes securely. Wrap up your polishes in bubble wrap and tape it. They are often found at dollar stores and are cheap. This will protect your polish in the mail. Some people like to take the extra step and wrap the bubble wrapped polishes in some gift wrapping paper or tissue paper and tying it up with some ribbon or sticking some stickers on it.

7. Often, nail mail buddies will put in some non-nail related extras such as candies, lotions, makeup, jewelry, et cetera in their nail mail packages. It isn’t required but I am sure your nail mail buddy would love receiving those things in addition to the polishes.

8. Most importantly, communication is vital in making this nail mail swap a success!

“What are the pros and cons for nail mail?”


  • You can try new brands that are not accessible for you (from other parts of the world).
  • You can form new friendships! You and your nail mail buddy can find a common ground with each other and you may end up being friends for years down the line. I have some nail mail buddies that I consider to be my real friends – we not only talk about polishes, but we talk about our lives, kids, jobs, et cetera.
  • Receiving sweet little surprises
  • Trying different delicious foods and treats from different parts of the world. I have tried some amazing candies from other parts of the world! Sometimes I think I just do this for candy. LOL!


  • You may receive polishes that you already have in your collection.
  • You may have a nail polish buddy that do not ship your package in a timely manner.
  • You may get burned. There are dishonest nail mail buddies out there! Please be sure to check the IG Nail Mail swapping list at http://ignailmail.wordpress.com/ Check this list out to see if your nail mail buddy is on the bad/good list.
  • International shipping is VERY expensive! Please be aware of this. Often, people get shocked by how expensive it is to send a package overseas and may not be able to afford to send it.
  • There is the risk of lost or damaged packages. I have received damaged packages and goods in the past due to rough mail handling by the post office or poor wrapping.
  • There’s also the legal risk of shipping polish as many countries do not allow this.

If there is anything you wanted to know about that is not discussed here, please feel free to contact me on IG or email me! I do hope you will give this nail mail thing a try! It is fun … and VERY ADDICTING!


19 Responses to “What Is A Nail Mail?”

  1. Natalia January 24, 2013 at 3:23 am #

    Great tips! I agree – communication is the key to a successful swap!

  2. Dani February 5, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Absolutely helpful information especially fora newbie thank you so much

  3. Kelly February 17, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    FINALLY! I kept seeing #nailmail and #nailmailbuddy all over IG, and was DYING to figure out exactly what all this was about. I personally LOVE the idea of exchanging polishes, and would love to see what someone else would decide to send me in a swap. Not to mention it would be fun to finally have someone who likes talking about nail polish and nail art as much as I do- my boyfriend very sweetly tolerates my babble, but I know it’s not his favorite subject- lol.
    I really would love to find a NMbuddy, but I was wondering, if there are possible stretches where I might not be able to afford to find and send some polishes, should I just avoid trying to set this all up? I wouldn’t want to find a buddy and then after a couple of exchanges, not be able to send any more for a long while.

    • justricarda February 17, 2013 at 12:24 am #

      Nail mail can be a one time thing or an on-going kind of thing. I have done both kinds and I still do. I have a small group of people that I do regular nail mail with then there’s the ones I do 1-2 times with.

      • Kelly February 17, 2013 at 1:00 am #

        Awesome! I think I’m gonna find me a nail buddy! Even if its only every once in a while, I think I’d would be super fun to try! Thanks! ❤

  4. nailart0lover7 February 28, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    Thank you this was very very much helpful

    • justricarda February 28, 2013 at 7:43 am #

      You’re welcome!

  5. Maya March 9, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    It would be so awesome if it was taken a step closer & girls in different regions were grouped together and could do meetups & things like that!

    • justricarda March 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

      What a wonderful idea.. Ill see if I can arrange that 🙂

  6. lanerbell March 25, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    I hope you don’t mind, I’m using this post as a link to explain nail mail. You’ll get the proper credit!! Thank you!!

    • justricarda March 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

      Don’t mind – thank you for being thoughtful to credit me.

  7. Sophia Gregory April 19, 2013 at 12:11 am #

    very helpful, thank you Justricarda, now im going to search for my nail mail buddy.

  8. Marcela Castellanos June 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    Hi!! I’m new at this nail mail buddy thing, and i had a question. Lets say my buddy and I agreed to $20 budget and lets say I got some of the polishes on sale… now do I put these in my budget as regular priced item or for the price i got them?? I’m sorry if this is a stupid question, but sephora currently has the sephora by opi polishes on sale they retail at $9.50 and they are $4.50 right now and also found some nail inc poliches at $2 I just want to be fair with my first nail mail buddy!! Thanks!!

    • justricarda June 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

      That’s a good question. And that is something you will need to decide yourself. I personally have always went a little more on the limit myself with my mail mail buddies. In this case, I would’ve paid $20 for those on sale polishes even though the retail value is much more. It’s so nice to spoil our nail mail buddies with goodies.

      • Marcela Castellanos June 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

        Thanks for the fast response!!! I know what I have to do thanks!! : )

      • justricarda June 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

        You’re welcome!!

  9. Whitney Flum July 11, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    Thanks so much for this information because I have been looking for a nail mail buddy or someone to adopt me, because I am a newbie. Again thanks so much Doll!!

    • justricarda July 11, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

      You’re welcome!!


  1. Sinful Colors Sugar Rush Collection | Just the Polish - March 25, 2013

    […] like nail polish Christmas every month. If you don’t know what nail mail is, you can find out here in this post by Rica. You can still get them at your local Walgreens for $1.99 […]

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