My latest obsession is nail stamping. It’s not a big surprise, since in a sense nail stamping is a form of printmaking. There is an etched metal plate that you apply ink polish to, and transfer the print on to your nails.
Here are all of the materials you will need in advance: a nail stamper, a card, an emery board, nail stamping plates, nail polish, cotton swabs, q-tips and nail polish remover.
To get started I bought a nail stamper from Konad. The one I like has two sides – one is smaller and the other is a little bigger. Prior to buying this I did research online, and this stamper is the one that everyone raves about. You can find the Konad Nail Art Double Ended Stamper here.
Once your nail stamper arrives, take a rough emery board and file the surface of the stamp. This added texture helps nail polish grip the stamp.
The stamping kit comes with a card scraper. Throw that away. It will scratch your stamping plates. Instead, use an old credit card or gift card as a nail stamp scraper. An old Starbucks card works great for this. File down the scraping edge of the card with an emery board as well. Even the softer plastic of the gift card has scratched my metal stamps before.
You will also need nail stamping plates. MoYou London has the highest quality plates and the coolest designs. This is the best way to get crisp geometric or flower designs on your nails. PUEEN is another good brand. Find the designs you like from either of those brands, and you’ll have good results.
MoYou-London Nail Art Image Plate Suki Collection 01 / MoYou-London Nail Art Image Plate Suki Collection 07 / MoYou-London Nail Art Image Plate Suki Collection 08 / MoYou-London Nail Art Image Plate Pro XL Collection – 01 / MoYou-London Nail Art Image Plate Pro XL Collection – 05 / MoYou-London Nail Art Image Plate Pro XL Collection – 10 / MoYou-London Nail Art Image Plate Pro XL Collection – 14 / MoYou-London Nail Art Image Plate Sailor Collection – 07 / MoYou-London Nail Art Image Plate Pro Collection – 04 / MoYou-London Nail Art Image Plate Pro Collection – 08 / MoYou-London Nail Art Image Plate Artist Collection – 04
These brands also sell nail stamping polish. Again, MoYou is the best, but Konad and PUEEN polish are also very popular. Since MoYou ships from London, Konad is a little easier to get a hold of in the states. The thing to look for here is consistency. Any opaque polish with a thick consistency will work. If you can paint a stripe on a contrasting surface color and the surface doesn’t show through, you have a winner. Wet ’n Wild is actually one of the favorites for this, because it’s so easily available at any drug store. Keep in mind that you will waste a lot of paint through the scraping process. While Konad and PUEEN polish give good results, dumping half of the bottle on the counter is not that appealing.
I’m a big Julep fan because their nail polishes are 5-free. Manda, a light blue with gold shimmer, is my base coat and Danielle, a darker metallic blue, are on my nails. Both of these polishes came in my Julep Maven beauty box. Whatever color of brand you go with, make sure to pick a light and dark color. Contrast is what will make the stamp stand out. If you’re not going with one of the polishes developed specifically for nail stamping, then contrast will be even more important.
Konad Nail Art Stamping Polish – Black / Konad Nail Art Stamping Polish – Sky Pearl / Konad Nail Art Stamping Polish – White / Konad Nail Art Stamping Polish – Silver / Konad Nail Art Stamping Polish – Gold / Konad Nail Art Stamping Polish – Silver / Konad Nail Art Stamping Polish – Magenta / Konad Nail Art Stamping Polish – Red / Konad Nail Art Stamping Princess Special Polish – Gold Black / Konad Nail Art Stamping Princess Special Polish – Yellow
To actually get the nail stamping to work, first prep your mani like usual. I like to do my nails the day before I stamp them because they have plenty of time to dry. Pro tip: buff the surface of your nail before applying the base coat so that the polish has a textured surface to grip. Your manicure will last much longer. Then apply two coats of paint and a top coat if you want.
Once the polish is completely dry, it’s time for stamping. Clean your stamping plate with a cotton swab and nail polish remover to prep it. Wipe it dry with another swab, and place it over a surface that you don’t mind getting paint on. A magazine works great. Paint the stamping polish over the design you want to transfer to your nails, and then quickly drag the card across the stamp at a 45 degree angle. Take your nail stamper and roll it across the inked plate, check that the polish is on the stamper, and then roll it across the surface of your nail. Wipe the stamper, card, and plate clean and dry with polish remover. For best results, these steps should be done as quickly as possible. Repeat. Finish the manicure off with a top coat.
Get creative! Try stamping over an ombre or watercolor pattern. Experiment with metallics. Also, you don’t have to use the same stamp or colors on every nail. Or stamp every nail. Practice, Practice, Practice. If you only get one stamped nail that looks good on your first try, paint the others with a contrasting color.