My First Experience with Nail Stamping

When it comes to doing my nails, I tend to prefer plain nails and have never really been into nail art. However, I always see people on Instagram with amazing designs on their nails, and I always admire how beautiful and precise they are! I first learned about nail stamping from Nova of Super Nova Beauty, and the whole concept seriously fascinated me! I mean, how do you transfer a design from a plate onto your nails? I also always thought that almost all nail art was done free-hand, so the idea of just being able to stamp it on seemed like such a unique ideas. Nova’s nails are always on point, and all of the videos I’ve seen of nail stamping made the process look so easy. After watching video after video of other people doing it, I was really curious about whether or not I could be successful at it myself. Read on to see what my first nail stamping experience was like!

First off, I needed some basic supplies, so I spent a week or two looking up nail stamping supplies on various websites. After doing some research, I decided to buy my nail stamping supplies from Harlow & Co. The selection there isn’t the best, but I enjoy that they have free shipping over $35, whereas a lot of other nail suppliers charge about $10.99 USD for shipping. I didn’t want to invest too much into these supplies because I only wanted to try the process out, so I kept my order simple. The products that I picked up were:

  • One nail stamping plate (I bought this one)
  • One nail stamper, which comes with a scraper
Shot of nail polish, nail stamper, stamping scraper, and stamping plate
The tools I gathered for my first nail stamping test

They make special stamping polishes which are thicker and more pigmented than regular polishes. However, I’ve seen people use their regular polishes for stamping, so I figured I could try the polishes in my stash first to see how they fared before investing money into supplies I may or may not need. I decided to try the Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy in the colour Sure Thing (a white creme polish) as my stamping polish.

Once all of my  supplies arrived, I gathered everything together and sat down to try stamping for the first time. A full list of supplies you’ll need for stamping is as follows:

  • Nail stamper
  • Stamping plate
  • Nail polish for stamping
  • Clear top coat
  • 100% acetone
  • Cotton pads/Q-tips
  • Tape or lint roller

These are the basic steps to nail stamping

  1. Start with painted nails.
  2. Apply a strip of polish at the edge of the design of your choice on the plate.
Close up of nail stamping plate after polish has been applied but before it has been scraped
This is what the stamping plate looks like when you first apply nail polish to it


3. Using the edge of a scraper or something similar, scrape the polish across the design.

Close up of nail stamping plate after being scraped
This is what the plate should look like after you’ve scraped it

4. Place the stamp over the design to pick up the polish.
5. Apply the design onto your nails by using either a stamping or rolling motion with the stamp onto your nails.
6. Clean up the edges where your nails meet skin with a Q-tip and acetone or nail polish remover, OR if you used liquid latex around your nails, take that off.
7. When the polish is dry, apply a clear top coat to finish.
8. To clean up your supplies, use 100% acetone on a cotton pad to wipe the stamping plate, and tape or a lint roller to pick up the dried polish from your stamp. I use 100% acetone because I’ve heard nail polish remover has ingredients in there (like moisturizers) that can ruin your stamping plate.

I had visions of the results coming out clean and exactly the way I saw on the videos. This was what the reality of attempt #1 looked like:


As you can see, this was a BIG FAIL. The white polish smeared everywhere, the patterns weren’t clear, and on some of the patterns, I couldn’t really even see the base colour. The thumb looked okay, but the white polish wasn’t really all that opaque. I wiped it all off, and started all over again. Here was attempt #2 (done in the same “session”):


The second time turned out much better with cleaner lines, but it was still not great! After attempting to stamp twice, I already learned a few things:

1. The white nail polish I was using, which is just a regular polish, was too thin for stamping. Maybe it’ll work when I get better at stamping, but until then, I needed to actually buy a stamping polish.
2. The scraper didn’t really work that well – it left streaks of nail polish on the plate that transferred onto the stamper and therefore onto my nails. I saw online that a lot of people recommend using old credit cards, and luckily I just so happened to own a credit card AND a rewards card that had just expired.

After my first stamping session, I went back to Harlow & Co and ordered three stamping polishes.

Close up of stamping polishes
After not being able to use my regular polishes to stamp, I ended up picking up three stamping polishes.

On top of the stamping polishes, for my third attempt, I ended up switching the scraper that came with the stamper with my old rewards card.

Group shot of nail stamping supplies
All of my supplies I needed for stamping


Here were my results when I made some improvements to the process by switching the scrapers and using the white stamping polish instead of the regular white polish:

Close up of nail stamping pattern
The design I achieved using a stamping polish

I mean, you can see it’s still not perfect, but it’s a LOT cleaner! The pattern is a lot more defined, and not smudged. I don’t love the colours together, but this was just for testing purposes so it doesn’t really matter. Sorry I don’t have the other fingers to show – I forgot to take photos of them once I finished them!

Some takeaways of my nail stamping experience:

  1. As a beginner, I noticed that it’s a lot easier to stamp with patterns that have a lot of negative (blank) space, like the feather pattern above.
  2. Nova mentioned that it takes a bit of time to “break in” the stamp because they’re a bit harder and less malleable at first, so they don’t get the sides of your nails very well. From what I’ve seen, this is very true – after 3 sessions, my stamp is just starting to get a little squishier.
  3. As a newbie, I feel like I’m just stamping blind with the current stamp I have, because I don’t know if it’s covering the entire nail. It’s infinitely harder if you’re trying to do more intricate designs that need to be placed in a certain way or area. A lot of brands have clear stamps now (these weren’t available on Harlow & Co) – I need one of these!
  4. This is a personal preference, but I also want to find some liquid latex because I really hate the process of cleaning up the edges of my nails.

So those are my experiences with nail stamping – I have definitely never been a natural when it comes to doing nail art, and I need a lot more practice with this tool! It’ll definitely be interesting to play around with some looks in the next few months.

Have you tried nail stamping (or any other kind of nail art), and what did you think?

20 thoughts on “My First Experience with Nail Stamping

  1. This is interesting! I’ve been getting into nails and I’m currently looking at testing PolyGel nails. I will deifinitely have to try this out too.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You’ve beat me to nail stamping! I still haven’t tried it yet despite buying all the necessary tools eons ago (including a proper stamping polish!) 😳

    Part of me really dislike nail art but for some reason I’m interested in the stamping process. I’d likely not wear it to work or if I do, I’d do something very subtle like tonal colours or maybe even a matte top coat as the stamping “colour” on shiny base.

    I got one of those clear jelly stampers based on recommendations, it is squishy and since it’s clear, it’s much easier to position the pattern. This is what it looks like:

    I got it off Born Pretty if you want to wait 2 months for delivery… they sent me the scrappers for free and they look just like a credit / loyalty card which you ended up using! 😆

    You did good!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh my gosh, so funny that you linked to your stamping tools blog post, because as I was writing my post, I remembered that you once did a haul of some nail art supplies (the weird things my brain remembers…) but couldn’t remember what type of supplies you got. Now I know it’s stamping! I think at that point the whole concept of stamping just went right over my head, LOL.

      I know what you mean about disliking nail art – sometimes it seems like too much? I really enjoy seeing OTHER people’s nail art, though! It’s literally like looking at works of art on the nails, haha. Although to be honest, I don’t think anyone at work would say anything to me if I came in with some crazy nail art – people comment on my makeup, but no one has ever said anything about my nails ever, no matter what colour I’m wearing. But I agree, I think the most subtle ways are tonal nails or matte vs shiny finish, and I want to try both ways! I’ve seen some people do a matte colour on the nails with a subtle stamp pattern in a metallic finish and that’s really pretty too. I have quite a small nail polish collection though, and I don’t have enough colour selection right now to do tonal nails, nor do I have a matte top coat lol. You could definitely do it with your collection, though!

      Also funny that you should mention Born Pretty because I discovered that website (through an Instagram ad) shortly after ordering from Harlow & Co, and have been eyeing a bunch of things from them since! I knew it would take a long time for the stuff to come, I just didn’t realize it would take THAT long…I was going to get some spring-themed plates from them, but maybe I’ll get Christmas ones instead hahaha. I do really want those clear jelly stampers though!!


  3. Ahh yes I remember seeing these a few years back, they certainly are gorgeous! I love how easily you’re able to transform a solid polish into something a little more fancy. Thank you for all your tips and tricks. I’d like to look into this 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love watching people do nail design stamping and thought about doing it myself too but I’m more of a simple plain color gal haha. I can’t help but feel like I’ll be wasting a ton of nail polish by scrapping and stamping. What are your thoughts on that?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know what you mean, I’m a plain colour gal too. Hmm that’s an interesting though. To be honest, I’ve never really thought that scraping would be wasting nail polish, mainly because I’ve never been able to go through a single bottle of nail polish in my life!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Even though this is your first couple of tries I think that last nail turned out really nice! I wouldn’t have known that you’ve never done this before if you didn’t mention it. I’m really curious about nail stamping too but I have enough trouble applying solid colours well that I don’t think I’m ready for it yet lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha you are too sweet! I’m definitely still a noob at it. And I totally know what you mean, it’s already enough of a struggle just painting your own nails, let alone doing nail art! It’s why I never really bothered trying until now!


  6. You did such a fab job! I suck at stamping lol! I would much prefer use a brush than use a nail stamp, it’s a lot harder than people think. You’ve given really great tips! You are making me love nail art all over again, it’s such a great post! x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. OK! SO! When I first saw the cover picture for this post my response was EEK! The stamper that you are using is super old school, but I am glad that it is working for you anyways. Is it a Konad? Those were some of the first stampers released, and they usually require a lot of work to get any results. You have to warm them up, and then you can’t even see where you are putting the design. I 100% suggest you get a clear jelly stamper. The material that they use for those seems to pick up and “let go” of designs easier, meaning that it transfers to the nail more easily. Also, you can see what you are doing!

    The more EEK-y part for me was seeing that old school scraper. Those metal scrapers can scratch up and damage your plates! So I am VERY glad you switched to the old value card. That is 100% the way to go!

    Regardless, you definitely made your tools work for you, and the end result looks great! I’m glad you’ve decided to get in to stamping!

    And I’m sorry I’ve been absent for so long! I’m glad to be catching up on your posts now!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Because I didn’t want to invest too much into stamping supplies in case it wasn’t something I would stick with, I just picked the cheapest stamper I could find on the Harlow & Co website and it turned out to be this one. Doesn’t even have a brand lol. I did want a clear stamper but either they didn’t have it or it was sold out, I can’t really remember. I have since placed an order on Born Pretty and purchased a clear stamper there, so I can expect my order to arrive in a few months LOL.

      The scraper isn’t metal, it’s made of the same cheap plastic as the handle of the stamper. The edges are jagged though, which is why I think it didn’t scrape very well. I can definitely see why having the right tools is so important for stamping!

      Liked by 1 person

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