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
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
- Start with painted nails.
- Apply a strip of polish at the edge of the design of your choice on the plate.
3. Using the edge of a scraper or something similar, scrape the polish across the design.
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.
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.
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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?