Nail Art 101: Week Five - Stamping Basics

It may be two weeks late but better late than never right right? Today is the fifth - and final - post in my Nail Art 101 series. Today's post will tackle the basics of something that I know scares a lot of people off from trying. Stamping. Stamping is intimidating. Let's get that out of the way first. I know when I first started stamping it literally would drive me to tears of frustration. I got my first stamping plates on a lark. A friend of mine gave me hers and wished me luck with the encouraging words "I couldn't figure these out." Looking back, considering that I had no idea what I was doing, my first stamping tries weren't all that bad. But they could certainly have been better had I the knowledge of a few basic tips and tricks which is what I will be sharing with you today. Read more after the jump.

I really wanted to do a video tutorial for this but my camera isn't the best so I decided to settle for a quick little photo tutorial followed by instructions. 

First off let's talk about tools and what you will need:



Stamping Plate

Cotton or cotton round for cleanup

Step 1. Paint your nails you desired color. Let dry completely. This is very important! You cannot stamp on wet nails. I recommend using a fast dry top coat to speed up the process.

Step 2. Apply your stamping polish to you your plate. Grab you scraper and scrape off the excess polish, making sure your scraper is at a slight angle - not facing straight up. You want to move pretty quickly at this point so the polish does not dry. 

Step 3. Gently roll your stamper over the image. Do not press down too hard or you will be missing bits of your image. 

Step 4. Apply the image to your nail in a gentle rolling motion from side to side. Let sit for a few minutes and then apply your top coat.

Tips &Tricks:

Stamper & Scraper

There are tons of ways to make your stamping life easier. One of the major ones is the type of stamper and/or scraper you use. When you buy a stamping set you are usually given a stamper and scraper like the ones in the photos above. These work for some people and for other they don't. There are different types of stampers; from firm to squishy and round to rectangular. It's all about finding what works for you. I currently use this stamper and it works for me. I does take a little getting used to however. My suggestion is to play around with a few different kinds and see which one you like the best.  For a scraper I do not use the one that came with my stamper. I use an old gift card. Yup, an old piece of plastic. This is the trick that changed my stamping life. Scrapers can be infuriating. They either pick up too much polish off the stamping plate or not enough. This was my major issue when I first started. Once I learned this tip it was relatively smooth sailing when it came to get a clear image on my stamper. So if you have an old store loyalty card or a gift card try using that as a scraper.

Stamping Polish this is where things get interesting. A lot of people walk away from stamping because they use the wrong polish when they stamp. You can't use just any polish to stamp with. There is a criteria that must be met in order for you to achieve an opaque, crisp image. You do not have to use stamping polish (though I do recommend eventually purchasing a few - they are awesome) but you must use a polish that is a one-coater. By one-coater I mean a polish that is completely opaque on the nail with just one coat. Anything thinner will not stamp. There are mainstream drugstore brands that work really well for stamping. Pretty much anything from the Sally Hansen Inst-Dri Line will work. This is because like stamping polish, this polish is on the thicker side and therefore opaque. For your basic black and white stamping polish you can use Wet N' Wild white and black polish or Sinful Colors. Both brands are under $2. If you are curious about how these brands stack up against each other I highly recommend reading Copy Cat Claws' extensive post about stamping polishes. It's my personal go-to reference when shopping for stamping polishes. 


There is one major thing that will make your stamping experience a nightmare. A drafty room! particularly drafty room. Why? Because it makes the polish dry faster! You have to be with the quickness when stamping and all direct air will do is dry your polish on the plate before you ever get a chance to stamp. No ceiling fans or direct breezes while stamping. You can crack a window but don't sit right next to it! 

Also, make sure you are working on a flat surface. This may go without saying but give yourself room. Set up your items and have everything ready to go. I usually pull all of my tools out and then wet my cotton round with my remover ahead of time. Using a pair of tweezers to hold the cotton will also help avoid any cotton fluff transfer onto your freshly painted nails.

Stamping Plate Care

Make sure you are cleaning off your plates after each use before storing them away. Dried polish in tiny crevices can make it hard to get a clean image next time you use the plate. I suggest using pure acetone on the plate itself to get it completely clean Another reason why so many people use cards instead of scrapers is to cut back on the amount of scratches a plate can get from the metal on a traditional scraper. The scratches don't usually effect the images but they're also not very pretty. 

There are a million YouTube tutorials on stamping so if you need a bit more visual guidance I highly recommend checking a few out. I don't have any particular favorites but I would suggest anything from Lucy's Stash on stamping because she is a stamping diva!

And that concludes the Nail Art 101 series! I hope you enjoyed this series, because it was a lot of fun to do. Let me know in the comments what your favorite topic was!