Response to a reader's nail stamping questions

This is continued from a post in reply to bailosaurusrex who used my Ask button over at nailartbyjoyella.tumblr.com to ask me, "Hi! I recently started following your blog, and I was wondering if you could tell me what stamps you use on your nails, and how to use them a little bit? I'm looking into buying stamps, lol. Thanks for your time. :)"

To get started with stamping you will need, at the very least, a stamper (I prefer the Konad 2-sided one, $3 on Amazon) & scraper (some people prefer to use old plastic cards, which work okay but you get the most crisp detail using the metal one, IMO. The scraper comes with the stamper so try both to see what you are most comfortable with). You will also need at least one image plate and a “stampable” nail polish.

Now, Konad and other brands try to sell you their “special stamping” nail polish by promoting the idea that “regular” nail polish just won’t work. This is completely untrue. I and others have found MANY “regular” nail polishes that work as good or better than Konad’s “special” (read:PRICEY) polish. The only upside to the Konad special polishes (or downside, depending on how you see it) is that they do take forever to dry so you don’t have to move as quickly transferring the image from plate to nail. This also makes applying a topcoat a tedious task (will smudge VERY easily). Once you gain experience and speed in your stamping technique, a quicker drying time isn’t really an issue anymore.

Rule 1: you are going to suck at first. Don’t give up or get disappointed. At first, I couldn’t get the image to transfer from stamper to nail at all or I’d have partial prints or smudged prints and I’d end up spending forever doing cleanup or completely redoing the manicure on the fingers that were beyond just a little clean up. Practicing on various surfaces (picture frame glass, my desk, paper, whatever) and over an old mani that you are about to change helps. Now the longest part of doing one of my manicures is the pre-paint steps (filing, cuticle care, etc) and the stamping part takes only a few minutes. I still flub but it’s easier to cover up or redo now that I’ve gotten the hang of it.

Rule 2: Start small & simple. In other words, don’t try to do a complicated konadicure (e.g. the fishnets are rough and all the French tips take some practice for everyong) but try something small, like hearts, whatever. And always do a “practice stamp” or two on an easily cleaned surface before you start stamping your nails to preview how the image will look stamped with the color you choose. I like to try on white paper and then on a dark surface (usually I’ll paint a small area with the base nail polish I want to use and then stamp over that to see how it looks.) I still always do this step.

Rule 3: Read all the tips, tricks, tutorials, etc and watch all the videos you want on “how to” do nail stamping (there are so many out there) but don’t feel like a failure when something that worked for one person don’t work for you (like I cannot paint my nails “in the lines” ever, no matter how slowly I work or careful I am. I always end up spending forever cleaning up my cuticles and the skin around my nails after a fresh paint. I honestly don’t know how anyone can paint their nails without flooding their cuticles with color!! Ha). You will try different methods and different products and different tips and tricks but in the end, the goal is to come up with a technique that works for you.

At the end of this post I will list my personal picks for the best “how to konad” tutorials because there are Soooooo many I would feel redundant writing one myself. What I will do is list my personal tips & tricks:

1.    I always put a square of papertowel underneath the plate I’m going to be stamping with to both protect the surface I’m working on and soak up the scraped off extra polish. I also use a 4x6 piece of glass from an old frame as my surface area as it gives me enough space for the plate (atop a small square of paper towel), my scraper, and my clean up “tool”.

2.    I use a shot glass to pour some nail polish remover in for clean up (eliminates having to open/close the bottle over and over & minimizes times my nails could be exposed to remover). I keep a handful of cotton balls at close hand and use an old pair of tweezers to pick up the cotton ball, dip in the acetone, and pick up/clean with the cotton ball/pad so I don’t mess up my painted nails.

3.    Before you stamp your nails, make sure the base polish is completely dry. Also, a lifesaver since I’ve started doing this, do a top coat on the base before starting your stamping. That way if you mess up and have to start over, you can quickly go over the surface of your nail with remover, erasing the stamp but leaving the base color intact (most of the time).

4.    To avoid smudging the design when you apply the final topcoat you must wait until the stamped polish is COMPLETELY dry. Even if you do this, if you use a topcoat that is too thick or go over the surface with brush more than once, you will smudge the design. I (and many others) swear by Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat as THE BEST stamping topcoat out there and is well worth the investment. The trick to applying the finish without smearing your mani is in how you apply it. ONE-TWO strokes per nail. Don’t start in the middle but do one side in a light, swift movement and move to the next side. The bristles of the brush shouldn’t come into contact with the surface of the nail. And don’t worry if you don’t cover the whole nail, when you apply the 2nd topcoat, you no longer have to worry about smudging if the 1st topcoat is dry.

Alright, now that I’ve blabbed your ear off, here are the links to my favorite konad tutorials (I had to have them open and read each step as I practiced the first few times I stamped.)

·         Parokeet’s “All About Konad” step-by-step video and text tutorial

·         Emerald Sparkle’s “Tipsand Tricks” what she says about how much polish to put on the plate is so true! You really will be surprise how little you need once you get started. Also, I always run a med-grit buffer/file over the surface of my stamper before each stamping session and as needed throughout (the acetone makes it too slippery). It really is key to picking up the design from the image plate, especially with “regular nail polishes”

·         Sassie’s Stampin’ Stampede “Non-Konad polishesthat work with Konad” This is a pretty extensive list of “regular” nail polishes that work for stamping. All have been either tested by Sassie or one of her readers. I actually have a bunch to add to the list but many of them are discontinued so it might be a moot point. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri crèmes are the best for stamping, btw.

·         The Nailphile’s “Konad Tutorial” with step by step pictures w/text.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you for now. Any other questions, you can always ask! As you can see, I will probably overload you but too much info is better than not enough IMO. :-p

Let me know how it goes, bailosaurusrex!

 Hope this helps you, and to any other readers out there, be sure to follow me on my tumblr, as I will post a majority of my manicures there and reserve this blog for pic heavy posts and tutorials/how-tos.

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