Sunday, August 24, 2014

Next Month's Mani Challenge -- Stamping!!

Ok, a lot of people have asked me what the next mani challenge will be. I tossed around a few ideas and talked it over with some lovely ladies in our polish group and decided September should be Stamping Month! I love this idea because… well… I've dabbled in stamping but was never really good at it. I want to get better so doing a mani challenge would give me LOTS of practice! I have a LOT of stamping plates and think doing a challenge would be great fun!

(Previous monthly challenges: June Is Julep Month! & August Is Indie Month!)

I made a SUGGESTED guide to go with this month. I will be following it -- but this is NOT a requirement to participate!! Stamping is a lot of work and I can absolutely understand not wanting to do it every single day (unless you want to, of course!). Here is the guide I created (feel free to make your own based on your stamping plate collection!):

What is polish stamping?? You can purchase stamping plates which are thin metal disks or squares etched with a design. You use a thicker nail polish (there are special stamping polishes but a lot of thicker regular polishes work just fine) and paint over the design, scrape off the excess with a plastic or metal scraper, press the rubber-tipped stamping tool over it to pick up the design and press on your nail. I'm not going to give you a big lesson on ALL the aspects of stamping -- for that I suggest checking out YouTube or even just Google "Nail Polish Stamping". LOTS of videos/info out there! You can also join stamping groups on Facebook for inspiration and advice (yes, these exist!).

But the basics… this is what I'm using:

  • Stamping polishes by Konad (though I'll probably use regular polishes by other brands, I will always tell you what I used in each post)
  • Konad double-ended stamper, Konad small head stamper, and the white Vivid Lacquer squishy stamper (I use different ones depending on what design I'm using -- the Konad ones are firmer and different sizes, the squishy one is just that -- squishy like a marshmallow, some people find they have better luck with one or the other, it's all a matter of preference!)
  • Scrapers… I have metal and plastic. Some people hate the metal one because it scratches the stamping plates. It does, but I don't find this to be a problem. A lot of people also don't use official "scrapers", they just use an old credit card or gift card -- it all works the same way so it doesn't matter what you choose.
  • Nail wheel. This is entirely optional. I have a pack of them I never use for anything except to practice stamping. Some people make stamping look super easy -- but honestly, it takes practice until you get the hang of it. Cheap nail wheels are a good way to practice, especially lining up images (mine are always crooked!). You can also practice on sheets of paper.
OK! Onto the stamping plates! These are the ones I own. Some brands are better than others. The ones I'm showing you all work well. I'll give brief comments about each brand. Keep in mind how small/large your nail bed is and how long your nails are. Some brands have larger full-nail size images and others are way too small for some people. Individual images (like a leaf or something) don't necessarily have to be large -- but with the full-nail size, bigger is better (otherwise you'll have gaps of missing design when your whole nails should be covered!

Top (L-R): 
  • Vivid Lacquer (square plates): Very cool designs, deeply etched, kinda pricey compared to other brands but worth it, imo.
  • Cheeky round set (26 plate set): Very cheap (I think I paid $15 CND through Amazon for the set), super slow to ship (from China). Good for practice, some images are hit/miss in terms of how well they transfer. Some are images are teeny tiny!
  • Cheeky Jumbo set (10 plates with extra large images): A popular set, stamps well. You can buy the whole set, half a set, or individual plates.
Bottom (L-R):
  • Messy Mansion: Excellent plates & designs, pricier than most but worth it.
  • QA plate (hex): From the BornPretty online store. I only have one and I haven't used it yet. I've heard mixed reviews on these. Super slow shipping (from China, even though I paid for faster, still took 2 months)
  • Nailz Craze (not shown!): I only have one (NC03) & haven't used it yet so I can't comment… but they do sell out a lot so they must be good?

Binder holder for stamping plates by Bundle Monster, zips along sides and keeps the plates organized and snug. Holds 168 plates (not all plates will fit in the slots but Konad, Bundle Monster, and Pueen's round plates fit perfectly). For the ones that don't fit in this binder holder, I keep them in plain black cardboard jewelry boxes (they fit perfectly!) and have them labelled (label maker=awesome!). The large Cheeky Jumbo plates just kinda sit inside a box loose, I have no idea how to store those ones!

Opened up, you can see it fits the plates nicely (I have them organized by brand with tabs because I'm a giant nerd!). In here I have:
  • Konad: 12 plates (random), very good quality, but pricey.
  • Bundle Monster: 55 plates (random, holiday set, user-created set), good quality, some images are hit/miss with transfer, very good for practice, lots of variety, cheap!
  • Pueen: 49 plates (Love Elements & Sumptuous sets), good quality, good price.

Some plates I want to try but haven't: the Pueen Stamping Buffet set (& the Special Edition Encore double-sided plates) and MoYou London (heard soooo many good things about them!). 

So here's kinda what you would need to get started: stamping polish (special or regular), a rubber-tipped stamping tool, a scraper (or old gift/credit card), and a stamping plate. Oh, and I ALWAYS do stamping with paper towels protecting my work area. I do not use one of those "stamping plate holders", I don't find it necessary & it's one more thing to clean after. Some of the stamping plates don't have a smooth edge, so be careful, you don't want to cut your fingers! Stamping plates also come with a protective blue film covering the face of the plate -- you must remove this before stamping!!

For cleanup, I use pure acetone, it works best, imo. I also keep some large cotton makeup remover pads nearby with acetone on them, that way I can easily swipe the stamper across the pad to remove residual polish before stamping again. Some people complain the acetone leaves white streaks on their plates. This does NOT harm the plates and can be rinsed off with plain tap water (or rubbed off with your hands or a paper towel). It's really not that big of a deal.

Thoroughly clean ALL your stamping supplies after every use! You don't have to clean before stamping each time within the same session (though some people do) but when you're done your mani, scrub it all down!! If during your session you have polish gunked up anywhere or hardening on your tools, stop and clean!

These "Precision Tips" Q-tips have pointed ends which are perfect for cleaning plates! The grooves of the plates tend to get polish trapped in them & scrubbing a bit with these soaked in acetone work sooo well to get the plates spotless! These are also super handy because you can dip the end into some acetone and clean tools or around your nail area without getting acetone on your mani and ruining it! YAY!

For cleanup around the nail, I use either these pointy Q-Tips or a little brush dipped in acetone (the concealer brush is by e.l.f. & the little glass dish is perfect for holding polish remover or acetone). Again, always protect your work surface with a paper towel!

As for the September Stamping Month "rules", they are very loose! Feel free to make up your own rules, do only one a week, whatever. It's about having fun and trying something new. :) I do have some suggestions though:
  • The guide is just that, a suggestion to go by. You can follow this or make up your own depending on what images you have.
  • I'm going to try and do one every day. I have time for this. I understand September is especially busy for people and doing a daily mani is not going to happen. That's okay!! Even if you can only do one or two all month, that's cool!
  • You don't have to stamp ALL your nails! You can just do one accent nail if you choose, or do all of them -- it's totally up to you! You can also keep the same mani all week but just stamp a new nail each day. 
  • You should state what polish and plates you used. I hate when people do awesome stamping but I have NO idea what the polish was or what plates they used -- often I'll ask and not get a response. :/
  • You MAY embellish with rhinestones, glitter, etc (in fact, I almost encourage it!).
One more thing! Be careful when applying topcoat over your stamping (which you should, to protect the design). Some brands will smear all your work. I love Seche Vite but it does smear Konad stamping polish. If you use a light touch when applying topcoat and don't go over the design repeatedly, you'll have better luck.

Like last month, I will have a "participants" post and will link anyone's blog/IG/Twitter/etc who is doing the challenge and wants to be added, just let me know!

Where to buy stamping supplies like plates, stampers, and polishes? My first purchases were from Nail Polish Canada (almost exactly one year ago!), but you can also try Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and Bundle Monster (I've ordered from them, they ship fast!). Before buying ANY stamping plates or polishes, pleasepleaseplease read reviews and shipping times! Some online stores sell SUPER cheap stamping stuff -- but the quality is garbage and it will take 2 months to arrive! Save your money! It's better to buy a couple of plates you love and use a lot than 30 plates you can pull images off of and will never use. 

I can also make a separate post with a list of regular polishes that stamp well & can reference it in each September post. Give me your suggestions!!


  1. Been threatening to restart blogging for ages! Having a challenge might just be the kick start I need :) I can only do 1-2 manis a week, but it should be fun nonetheless! When I restart it, my blog is at (Found your blog and challenge via fb AIS btw).

    1. Awesome! I will add you to the participants list. :) And it's totally cool if you can only do 1-2 a week. It's about having fun, not sticking to a rigid schedule (fun, not work!).

  2. Hey Miss Tina, So glad you joined AIS, I might have never come across you otherwise. I am fairly new to blogging, but would love to participate in your Monthly Challenge. Can't wait to see your "flowers" mani!

    Here I am

    Much love, Bob