How To Successfully Stamp Your Nails

Hey There Polished People!

Many people ask me how I do my nails. They see intricate designs on them and ask if they’re strips or stickers or appliques of some sort. When I tell them no, that they’re done using a nail stamping plate they’re like totally perplexed- What is a stamping plate? How does it work? What do you need to stamp your nails? Where do you find them? How do you do it? Well today I am going to answer those questions. :)

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What is a stamping plate? And how does it work?

A stamping plate is a metal disc (usually circular but not always) with designs etched into it. It works because the polish is placed on the plate and then the excess is scraped off. The polish stays in the etched recesses and then when you use a silicon ended stamp, it picks up the polish in the recesses and can be transferred to your nail.

Here is a stamping plate with polish in the recess after scraping the excess off.

Here is a stamping plate with polish in the recesses after scraping the excess off.

Where do you find them?

You can find stamping plates, stampers, scrapers and stamping polishes in the mall at Konad Nail Art Kiosks, online at Bundlemonster.com, through various indie polish people on Etsy, through Cheeky or Mash on Amazon, and even at your local drugstore in the Essence nail art section.

What do you need to stamp your nails?

To get yourself set up to stamp your nails you need to create a little workstation. You’ll need the stamping plate, a scraper, a stamper (the silicon ended stamper to pick up the polish out of the recesses), polish suitable for stamping (any thick nail polish, most metallics, Konad brand special polish, etc), cotton balls soaked in nail polish remover and a paper towel.

How do you stamp you nails?

You may develop a slightly different routine than I have, but this is how I do it with mostly success. You need to start with nails that are painted with the base color you chose and completely dry. Also- double or triple up on the top coat as “stamping insurance.” If you have plenty of top coat and you apply a stamp crooked or incompletely you will be able to soak a clean cotton ball in remover, lightly swipe it over your nail and remove the failed stamping without removing your base polish and having to start all over. If you’re a beginner, don’t skip this step. You will thank me. Trust me on that. Let’s get stamping!

Here is your work station. From mostly left to right you see my well-used paper towel,  my stamping plate, my scraper, a couple remover-soaked cotton balls, my stamper and the polish I'm using for this design Essie Blue Rhapsody. All of this sits on a small stack of newspaper to protect my work surface which happens to be my laptop.

Here is my work station. From mostly left to right you see my well-used paper towel, my stamping plate, my scraper, a couple remover-soaked cotton balls, my stamper and the polish I’m using for this design Essie Blue Rhapsody. All of this sits on a small stack of newspaper to protect my work surface which happens to be my laptop.

The first thing you need to do is apply some polish to the plate. You can apply it to the bottom half only because you're going to scrape it upwards and it will spread over the entire plate.

The first thing you need to do is apply some polish to the plate. You can apply it to the bottom half only because you’re going to scrape it upwards and it will spread over the entire plate.

Use your scraper at about a 45 degree angle and scrape the excess polish off the design.

Use your scraper at about a 45 degree angle and scrape the excess polish off the design.

Here's a better shot at the angle at which to scrape off your polish. You want quite a steep angle to avoid scratching your plate and I just find this scrapes the polish off best for me. Immediately after scraping your plate, wipe your scraper off on the paper towel. You don't need to use remover, just wipe it on the dry towel in a (mostly) clean spot.

Here’s a better shot of the angle at which to scrape off your polish. You want quite a steep angle to avoid scratching your plate and I just find this scrapes the polish off best for me. Immediately after scraping your plate, wipe your scraper off on the paper towel. You don’t need to use remover, just wipe it on the dry towel in a (mostly) clean spot.

This is what your plate will look like after scraping it. The polish should only be inside the recesses of the design.

This is what your plate will look like after scraping it. The polish should only be inside the recesses of the design.

Immediately after scraping and quickly wiping your scraper, grab your stamper and quickly roll it over the design with the polish in the recesses. Don't apply too much pressure, but press gently.

Immediately after scraping and quickly wiping your scraper, grab your stamper and quickly roll it over the design with the polish in the recesses. Don’t apply too much pressure, but press gently.

Look at your design and make sure it's complete. If it looks like this, clean your stamper and stamping plate with a remover-soaked cotton ball and start over.

Look at your design and make sure it’s complete. If it looks like this (incomplete), clean your stamper and stamping plate with a remover-soaked cotton ball and start over.

If your design is smeared like this, clean your supplies and start over. You need a clean image on the stamper to transfer to your nails.

If your design is smeared like this, clean your supplies and start over. You need a clean image on the stamper to transfer to your nails.

When you have a clean, complete design on your stamper then you’re ready to apply the design to your nails.

Now, in the same way that you picked the polish up off the plate, use the same rolling motion and light pressure to transfer the polish to your nail. If you find it’s messed up when you pull away the stamper, use a clean remover soaked cotton ball and gently swipe over your nail to remove the stamping but not the base color and start over.

Important note: The steps between the time you scrape the excess polish off your plate and the time you apply the stamp to your nail need to be done quickly. I think it probably takes me about 10-15 seconds to do those steps. You scrape, wipe on paper towel, pick up the stamper, press onto the plate, check, press onto the nail. If you’re too slow the polish will dry in the recesses and you’ll only get a partial stamp. If you are slow at first, keep practicing and you’ll eventually get quicker.

Repeat all the steps for each nail, making sure to fully clean off your stamping plate and your stamper with a remover-soaked cotton ball between each nail. Also wipe them on the paper towel to dry them; a wet stamper or plate WILL smear.

You WILL have polish all over your cuticles. This is ok and unavoidable. Use your clean up brush or q tips or whatever you use and remove the polish from around your cuticles.

You WILL have polish all over your cuticles. This is ok and unavoidable. Use your clean up brush or q tips or whatever you use and remove the polish from around your cuticles.

Here we are, all clean!

Here we are, all clean!

After every nail is stamped, very carefully apply a layer of topcoat. I like Seche Vite. It’s important that while you apply your topcoat you only touch any part of your nail once- no going over the same spot if you think you missed a little piece. Let this layer dry, then apply a more thorough second coat of topcoat and you wont have to worry about smearing your stamping.

Here is the finished product! Revlon Royal is the base with Blue Rhapsody stamped over the top using Cheeky plate CH 52.

Here is the finished product! Revlon Royal is the base with Essie Blue Rhapsody stamped over the top using Cheeky plate CH 52.

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I hope someone out there found this helpful!! Stamping your nails really isn’t that hard, it just takes a little patience and a little practice. Let me know if you do your stamping differently or any other tips and tricks you would like to share. I will do some more tips and tricks and troubleshooting stamping posts in the future. As always, thanks for reading and till next time- Happy Polishing!!! :D

Want to share this with your friends? Here’s a picture just for pinning on Pinterest and sharing on other social media!

Pin this picture on Pinterest! :)

53 thoughts on “How To Successfully Stamp Your Nails

  1. Love that deep blue! And of course the design is gorgeous. Thanks for the tutorial although I have yet to buy my first stamping set.

    • Well if I remember correctly you’re not a big lover of stamps so maybe you won’t get into it but as you know… I’m a fan :) This is one of my favorite blues. Thanks!

  2. You’re such a good teacher! ;) I do my stamping pretty much the same exact way, I highly stress the insurance coats as well. The only thing thats different for me is my set up, I have a sheet of thick plastic (just like those clear portfolio covers) that I put down and use as like a place mat when I do nail art. Although I tend to be lazy and not move my lap top out of the way and do my nails on top of it like you :P
    P.S. That stamp pattern is super cute!

    • Plastic wrap or newspaper… It all works! :) I totally agree about the instance coats… It’s a MUST especially for beginners or intermediate stampers. It saves so much time and frustration.

  3. Thanks so much for the tutorial! I just never have time to devote to learning how to do this, but…someday, someday! And now I have a reference!
    I like the end result mani a lot. :)

    • Aghhhh I wish you lived close then we could hang out and have a nail painting party and I could stamp your nails for you. I haven’t even done my mom’s nail lately. Maybe this next weekend. :)

  4. Needed this! I have been wanting to purchase a “stamper” but was afraid it would be too difficult for me. Your instructions are wonderful and as soon as I have the cash, to Sally’s I will go!!! Thanks. :)

    • Sally’s stamper kit is ok but if you really get into it you should try the konad stamper and bundle monster plates. Or konad but they’re more expensive. I’m glad this was helpful for you! Thanks for letting me know. :)

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  6. AS A ROCK AND ROLLER IN A CRAZY BAND WHO PLAYS ON STAGE IN BARE FEET, YES…I POLISH MY TOES AND DONT HAVE TIME FOR THE OLD SCHOOL POLISHING SOMETIMES…I FOUND YER SIGHT VERY HELPFUL AND CANT WAIT TO TRY THE MUSICAL NOTES ,STAFF, AND CLEFS FOR OUR NEXT GIG…YOU PUT OUT VERY HELPFUL INSTRUCTIONS AND I THANK YOU! ROCK AND ROLL!!

    • Awesome! I really like the designs in this set. I do find the cheeky engravings to be a little deeper than other brands, which is great for pick-up but can require a bit of finesse to avoid smeared lines. Nothing you can’t fix though. I hope you enjoy them!! :)

  7. I know this is old, but I want to let you know I appreciate this tutorial! I haven’t gotten a set yet, but I adore some of the stamping I’ve seen and I really want to try it. This was super-helpful and makes me feel more confident about giving it a shot!

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  9. FINALLY! A great explanation to what stamping is and how it is done! I always that it was more of a stenciling process. I wanted to purchase a set, but the online directions made NO sense to me (didn’t help that it was in Korean!).

    • Oh yes… If you don’t speak Korean I bet that was a little difficult! Who knew you needed Rosetta Stone to paint your nails! Haha. I’m glad you found this helpful, thanks for reading and commenting. :)

  10. I have a silly question… How do you clean the stamper and plate without removing the base color? I’ve been having my very patient husband help me with that part, but even his patience only goes so far. LOL. Thanks for the great tutorial :o)

  11. I just purchased a stamping kit at a show. The rubber stamper that came with the set is different than the stamper she used at the show. I can’t get anything to stick to the rubber stamper? Is there a special way to clean the rubber stamper or something to do to it to make it pick up the design from the metal plate? If I roll my thumb across the plate and use my thumb to place the design on my nail it works… kind of…. but the rubber stamp does not pick the design off the plate.?

    • Thanks for your question, I’m sorry stamping is being a pain for you right now!
      Ok, so since your thumb will pick it up, it should just be the stamper. I’m assuming you work quickly, so the next step would be to lightly file your stamper w the fine side of a file. It wont visibly rough it up but it should get rid of the super smooth surface so it can pick up the stamp better. Then wipe it with acetone and try it. That SHOULD work, I hope it does! What brand is the set you bought?

  12. I recently purchased the Konad stamp and plates. I attempted to use them but the print does not transfer to the stamp. I tried different nail polishes, filing the surface of the stamp, and cleaning after every attempt. Nothing worked. Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • This may sound like a stupid question but did you remove the blue plastic first? I only ask because I personally know people who didn’t know that was a protective cover. Assuming you are working with an uncovered plate there are a few things you can try and you’ve already done a couple- filing the surface and trying different polish. The other thing to try is try working much faster. Like after you put the polish on the plate, scrape off the excess and get that stamp onto your nail within a few second. Usually if you’re just too slow you at least get a partial stamp though. Is the problem the same for all of the plates? Report back and maybe we can do some more problem solving if that doesn’t help.

  13. Very helpful tutorial thank you I’m just beginning in stamping and have found this very helpful 😀😀😀

  14. I found that using a gel base really helps, (I use the soak off foundation gel) especially since I’m still trying to figure stamping out! I don’t worry about having to redo the base coat over and over. Thank you for the tutorial! It answered some questions for me!

      • HI there
        I was just wanting to know why my nail polish doesn’t transfer over from my plate to my stamp as I am doing everything the way everyone does it but it doesn’t seem to work could you help me with this matter and also give me some tips to be good at it as I am new to this and it if is the first time i am using it.

        Thanks

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