Friday, July 29, 2011

FAQ: All about stamping nail art!


EDIT: May 8th, 2013 - I wrote this post when I felt I was very knowledgeable about stamping at the time - but it has since grown into a much bigger trend and I am no longer completely familiar with all the new plates and companies and the different supplies available. I have updated this post to the best of my ability and if you have anything to contribute, email me or comment it below!

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I have a long and wordy post for you today to hopefully answer some questions about Konad and other stamping nail art.
I get a lot of emails, Facebook messages and post comments asking about stamping. Where do you get plates? How do you use them? Are they expensive? Do you need to use special polish? How do you get it on your nails? Etc, etc.
I especially got a lot of comments after my Nicki Minaj nails!
So, I’m writing this post. I’m going to try to list all the tips and tricks I know and all the information I have. And I hope it helps!

I’ll start with the most popular question. 

What do you need for stamping and where do you get stamping supplies?
To start stamping, you need to get a stamper, scraper, and image plates.
There are many different brands and retailers for stamping supplies.

The most popular (and I believe the pioneers of stamping) is Konad. You can see all their plates and images on their website here. Konad is sold for around $6.99 per plate at some professional beauty stores, and also online at WowSoCool.com. Nail Polish Canada also has a huge selection of Konad supplies.
You can also find Konad plates on eBay, and you can usually get them for $1 or $2 cheaper than retail.
Konad also sells starter kits which come with a stamper, scraper, and a special polish. However, the special polishes are not necessary.

Another popular brand is Bundle Monster. You can order from their website, or on Amazon, or Nail Polish Canada. They currently have three sets of image plates, with 21 or 25 plates per set.
You get a lot more plates for your money but the quality overall is not as good - often some of the plates will be improperly etched. But, that being said, Bundle Monster has awesome customer service and will replace a plate if you receive a faulty one. (This happened to me once and they replaced it, no problem.)
You do need to buy a stamper and scraper separately, the BM plates do not come with them. 
One thing to remember - the full-nail images in the first set are not as big as Konad designs and some people have trouble getting them to fit their full nails. If you have large nails, you might not want to invest in the first set. The full nail images in the second set are the same size as Konad images. (Yet this is still too small for some people's thumbs.)

Another popular stamping company is Cheeky Beauty. They sell many different sets of plates and some large plates as well as lots of nail art supplies. The prices are great and they ship free worldwide! Always a mega plus. Click here to go to their nail art section.

Born Pretty is another popular stamping plate retailer. Here is their page for plates. They have a ton of plates with amazing prices, some are just generic flowery ones, but they also have a set that are duplicates of Konad plates plus a bunch more of really nice ones. You can also buy a stamper/scraper set here for really cheap. The quality of the plates is not as good as Konad but definitely useable. They also sell stamping polish but I cannot speak to its quality because I have not used it, but I imagine it is again not as good as Konad but still decent. 
Born Pretty ships free, worldwide. They also have just about every nail art item you could ever want. And you can get a 10% discount from many bloggers but I believe my particular code has expired.

MASH is another stamping company. They have a set of Konad knock-offs as well as original plates. I really like the original ones and they often have sales, I think I got mine for $10. The link to them is here, and they also carry stamping polishes and stampers, etc, but I haven't used those so I have no opinion on them.

Winstonia has a set of plates that I purchased recently. They are good quality and good value. They also have stampers/scrapers, including one that has both on the same tool, and also they sell a large stamper which is good for people with large nails. Find them here.

Ninja Polish sells a lot of plates from brands like DRK Nails and Fab Ur Nails and I will be honest that I don't know much about the plates sold there because I don't have any, but I know a lot of people are in love with their plates! There are some large plates (like, the size of a piece of paper) with tons of images and there are lots of options. Check out their site to browse the plates here.

I know of another brand called Nail Art Diva which is sold at some Lawton's stores here in Canada. I'm not sure where else they are available but they sell individual plates and special polishes.

You can also get lots of plates on eBay. There are many generic brands there, and you can usually get a bunch for a good price. (I got a set of 30 for just $15 once.) As well there are many specialty plates, for instance, you can find plates with Marilyn Monroe on them or the Transformers logos, etc. There's something for everyone!

Personally, I like Konad the best. In my opinion, you will have much better success using a Konad brand stamper than any other. If you're having trouble stamping, consider purchasing a Konad stamper and I think you'll find you get better results. The same goes for Konad brand polishes. 
I did not think this way at first and I always went for the cheaper supplies until I worked in a salon with actual Konad supplies and was amazed by the difference.
You can always count on the quality, and I find the images to be more pleasing all around.


Do you need to use the "special polish" with stamping plates?
No. You don't need to. But obviously they do work best.
Here is what makes the special polish "special" - the opacity. That means, the polish is much thicker and more pigmented, so that when you are applying the stamp, which is a very thin layer, it will still be visible. 
Who makes special polish? Mostly Konad, but as I said above you can find some with some of the other retailers.

What sorts of regular polishes work well for stamping?
The general rule is - if the polish covers your nail in one coat, it will be good for stamping. That just means that the polish is well-pigmented and will act most like the special polishes.
The most readily available polishes that work for stamping are Sally Hansen Insta-Dri. Their polishes are marketed to cover in just one coat, and most of them do, so they are good for stamping. I have noticed that the ones that don't work so well are the old formula. How do you tell the difference in old and new? The new ones will have the name of the polish on a sticker on the top of the cap.
Insta-Dri Whirlwind White is the best white polish I have found so far but it is now discontinued.
Insta-Dri Silver Sweep is an amazing silver - get this one!
Their bright creme colors are also awesome, I like Presto Pink, Brisk Blue, and Lickety Split Lime.

The best non-special black polish for stamping that I have tried is Wet N Wild Wild Shine Black Creme.

A few China Glaze collections work extremely well - Khrome Collection, Romantique Collection, and Sci-Fi Collection. Those are all metallic polishes.

Metallic polishes will most always work.
Most holographic polishes will most always work.
Glitter polishes, in my experience, do not work. The glitter sticks into the plate.
Shimmery polishes can work, so long as they are opaque.

Trial and error is the best way to figure it out. Experiment with what you have!

How does nail art stamping work?
This is another popular question that is pretty hard to explain. I watched several YouTube videos to find the most informative one for you guys, and the best one is actually from Konad! I would do my own, but I don't have a suitable camera.


The woman in the beginning of the video is a bit creepy, but this video is really informative.
The only thing wrong about this video is you DO NOT need the IP Holder (Image Plate Holder).
The IP Holder is used to collect the excess polish, but you can just do it on scrap paper or paper towel.

Other tips and tricks:  

-Make sure your base polish is completely dry before stamping. If necessary, add a quick drying topcoat to your nails before stamping to speed it up. If it isn't dry, you can end up squishing the polish on your nail and ruining it.

-It is best to wait a few minutes before applying topcoat. You can smear the designs if you apply too early.
Also, make sure you have enough topcoat on your brush before applying topcoat. That is the main reason why smearing occurs. Do as the video says, and apply the top coat in as few strokes as possible, which will reduce the chance of streaking. (But you don't need to add two coats like the video says to do. Only do that if you usually prefer 2 coats.)

-Clean your plates with normal nail polish remover and a Q-tip. You can also use cotton pads but I prefer the control you get with a Q-tip. (Plus then you don't get any remover near your nails!)
Pure acetone will leave streaks on your plates, so they will look messy but it doesn't affect the stamping.
Make sure you dry off the plates after wiping, or else the polish won't apply right the next time.
Images with lots of detail can require a bit of scrubbing with the Q-tip to get all the polish out.
You do not NEED to clean the plate between each stamp, but I prefer to because it helps you get a perfect image every time.

-Do not press too hard. Many of the popular YouTube tutorials are wrong in this aspect. You do not need to press hard against the image plate to pick up the image. If anything, that makes your image pick up worse.
Like in the video I showed, one gentle roll across the plate will pick up the image.
Do NOT rock the stamper back and forth on the image, that will ruin it.

-Work quickly. Be as fast as you can from the moment you scrape to the moment you roll the image onto your nail. The polish can dry in the plate or on the stamper if you don't move fast enough.

-When using full-nail or tip images, chances are you will get some polish on your skin. Remove this with some polish remover on a Q-tip or on a makeup brush, if you want to be extra neat.

-You can use a plastic card (like an old gift card) as a scraper if you lose yours, or if you got a metal scraper. The metal ones can scratch your plates and I don't recommend them.

-Having trouble with the scraper taking out too much polish from the image? That means you are scraping too hard.
It can also happen with images that have large areas - try scraping in different directions. I explained that in this post.

-Don't try to stamp in a room with a fan or air blowing in from a window. It will make it much harder to get the images to transfer because they will dry too fast.

-Practice makes perfect. At first it is really hard to get images on straight, but really you just need to practice. The hardest images to do are the french tip designs and even I haven't mastered those yet!

-It takes time to get the hang of stamping and it can be frustrating. At first, a stamping manicure may take you more time than you would like, but as you get more accustomed to it, it becomes very fast and easy!

-Most importantly, be creative! Use multiple base colors, multiple stamp colors, multiple images, anything you can think of! Stamping opens up a whole other dimension of nail art that can't be achieved with freehand art. Go nuts!

If you have ANY other questions, please leave them in the comments. I will reply to all questions that I can. And if you think I left something out, please leave any suggestions below!

77 comments:

  1. Great tips thank you!!
    I'm kind a novice in stamping, I very very otfen get a not full design, but I heard a konad stamper is really needed.

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  2. This post is amazingly informative!!! Thank you for taking your time to offer this advice. I am new to stamping and I really took a lot in from your info! :)

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  3. Great post, thanks. I never even thought of using a plastic card instead of the metal scraper.

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  4. thanks! I just shared this on my blog because I've had some asking and you've explained everything so well!!

    http://adventuresinacetone.blogspot.com

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  5. thank you sooo much for this, I know it must have took a lot of your time. I had so many questions about stamping, own just a few of born pretty plates and haven't use them as much because I was doing everything wrong! lol and was afraid to ask to pros like you.again THANK YOU!!!

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  6. I have the Mash plates from Amazon and i was wondering why they dont come out as amazing as some other plates but now i know:) im going to play with them:) thank you so much for this post:) you helped a lot!!

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  7. I cant tell you how greatful I am! :) I just bought my new stamping kit from the local drugstore, but I havent got enough time to sit down practicing. Thank you for this amazingly informative post!!
    And the video with this nice woman... :)

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  8. Awesome post, thank you very much!

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  9. Excellent post, bookmarked :D !

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  10. Thanks so much! I've got a bunch of konad plates on their way to me now, I'll be sure to put your advice to practice.

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  11. Love the beginning of the video! The lady made me laugh hard. I tried one of my friend's stamping kit. I was awful the first time! I can't wait to get my own set to practice with:) this definitely inspires me to get it faster!

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  12. rebecca thanks so much for this post. i have tried and tried to master this technique and i just get so frustrated all the time. i use to think the harder u press the better stamping u get. maybe thats why i never get it right. hahah im going to take all your tips into consideration next time im brave enough to try it! thanks doll!!

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  13. Wow what an amazingly thorough post. Fantastic information!

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  14. I can pick up my Konad images no problem. I have the second set of Bundle Monster plates but I just can't get the image to pick up properly on my stamper, I've tried scraping in different directions, scraping lighter. I use special polish so it can't be that. Do you think my plates are dodgy? I've tried two of them so far with bad results.

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    1. The monster plates are just too shallow for me, I had the same issue and wound up throwing them all out and going onto Amazon.com and getting the jumbo sized cheeky plates as they are really inexpensive, have nice deep designs that are perfect, and the plates are huge in size as well as the designs being huge enough to even do onto your big toes! Good Luck! :D

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  15. @Jennifer - It could be that they are dodgy. You should try some more of the plates, see what happens. Make sure you are pressing lightly with your stamper on the plate - that usually solves my problems. If you can't seem to get many to work, you should definitely call them. I know of one girl who bought the set and 75% of the plates weren't working right, and they replaced the whole set.

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  16. Okay I will give some others a go. I've ordered a different stamper because mine was a tall Konad stamper and from videos I've seen the short one looks easier to use. I've read that filing the stamper might help but I will try your tips first. I live in the UK so I can't really call them and I bought them a while ago from Amazon UK. Maybe I should try different polishes, maybe a thinner one would work better in case it is drying in the image plate.

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  17. You could email them, I'm not really sure why I said call because I emailed! Haha.
    I have heard of people lightly filing the stamper but if you're using the Konad plates no problem I don't think you would need to do that. If you do try it, use a small grit file and just do it lightly.
    And as far as the best polish to try with, the special polish would be the best because it would dry the slowest. Thinner ones would dry faster.

    Perhaps try the image I used in this post:
    http://rebeccalikesnails.blogspot.com/2011/05/are-you-brave-enough-to-let-me-see-your.html
    That one is the one that gave me the least trouble.

    That set of plates does give me a lot more trouble than any other so be patient, it takes time to get them working!

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  18. Thanks Rebecca, I will give them all a go on some paper and see which ones work and which don't. Then I will email them with a list of which don't work and see what they say :)

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  19. I really want to get the 2nd Bundle Monster plates! I'll definitely buy them soon!

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  20. Hi Rebecca! Just wanted to let you know that I've got a lot of them to work perfectly now with my new short Konad stamper. It is so much easier to control. The scraper is different to my old one too and works much better. Some of the plates aren't etched perfectly but they still stamp exactly what is etched whilst others don't stamp as well so need a little more patience. I'm happy enough with them though :)

    Thanks for all your help xx

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  21. @Jennifer - That's awesome! I'm glad to hear it. I was thinking about getting the taller stamper but maybe I shouldn't bother! haha

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  22. My images never seem to pick up correctly. I dont know what to do! I work quickly, i even went through the lenghts of buying the special polish. I have all the Konad supplies, I follow all the advice i can find online, but its just not working! Im getting a little impatient. Any ideas?

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  23. @Maike - have you made sure that you are not pressing too hard with the stamper on the plate? you really just need a light touch to pick up all the polish.
    other than that, make sure you aren't scraping too hard and removing too much polish from the design. perhaps you could lightly buff your stamper in an effort to make it pick up better. and make sure the stamper is clean and dry before using it!

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  24. I just want to say this has seriously helped me a ton!! Thanks so much! The polish list is just amazing! I am definitely your newest follower!! Love your blog!!

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  25. Thank you so much for all the helpful hints! I just received my first konad plate today and I can't wait to try it!

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  26. Great tutorial Rebecca! Thank you!

    I have heard some people say that you need to file the image plate before using it. Why do you need to do this and how do you do this?

    Also, what is the best way to clean the stamper after each application?

    My first try at stamping was an epic fail...but I can't wait to try it again.

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    1. I've found that the best way to clean my stamper is with one of the sticky tape type of lint roller.

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    2. Jini - I think you meant 'file the stamper before using it' not 'file the image plate'! Kay responded without mentioning this word switch; but I want to emphasize to newbies: Do NOT file your image plates! Do make sure you have peeled off the clear or generally blue plastic film protector on the image plate before use.

      Regarding the stamper, yes, I've found that all of my stampers work better after first buffing lightly; some don't work at all without this. I will gently buff with a fine grit nail file; some recommend using a Mr Clean Magic Erase cleaning pad for the buffing. You only need a gentle buffing. Make sure you use gentle pressure or you can damage the surface of the stamper.

      Like Kay, I love to use the sticky tape peel-off lint roller to clean my stamper. If you do it carefully and quickly without touching the nail, you can also clean some over-stamp off the skin with the lint roller. If you don't have a lint roller right now, you can also try using regular Scotch or masking tape. Warning - packing tape can sometimes be too sticky and if you're using a squishy stamper there is the possibility an overly sticky tape can rip it. With your first stamper this is unlikely to be a concern as it will generally be of the medium or firm type.

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  27. You should update this post to include extra things that have happened since the last time you posted it/edited it for all new stampers!

    Like the info/pictures you discovered when you started using Konad stuff (i.e. that the polishes are clearer, Konad stampers are worth the money, etc.)

    Also, maybe a link to the 3rd set of BM plates? :]

    Plus, Essence is a stamping company too! They make "Stampy Polish" and "Stampy Plates". The plates don't have specific names or numbers and are sometimes hard to find online, but I ordered mine from a Spanish site! Some plates are only sold by themselves and others are only sold with a stamper. The prices are in Euros but PayPal converts your money for you.
    http://www.maquillalia.com/essence-nail-stampy-design-plate-have-p-4982.html
    http://www.maquillalia.com/essence-nail-stampy-p-3720.html

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  28. Great post - only just found it! Your "stash/swatch page" doesn't work, any way you could enable it please?

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    Replies
    1. thanks for pointing that out! i no longer have that stash/swatch page so i took out that part of this post.

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  29. Wow, what a fantastic post!!!! Thank you so much for all of your effort :)

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  30. I just wanted to know if i need to buy special polish and found this post through my search. I am extremely happy that you answered all I need to know about stamping. I will buy one cheeky plate and the chocolate polish. I love metallic polishes and accents. Sally Hansen Insti dri topcoat in the red bottle is by far my fav non smearing, fast drying topcoat! !! You saved me so much money. I can't wait to use my Mellow Yellow to make flowers.

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  31. Thank you so much for the info. I am going to try some of the polishes you recommend! I have been thinking about some of the non-Konad stamping plates and it seems like there are mixed reviews not sure if I want to take the chance of wasting any money if I am going to end up with the Konad in the long run... Thanks Again!

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  32. Great post! I just got my bundle monster set plates BM1 - BM21. I like the ones I tried, but the full patterns are way too small for my thumb. Also, couldn't get the credit card to scrape right, so resorted back to the metal scraper. I hope I don't damage the plates too much.

    My big question for you is....Which company, or plates have the largest patterns for full nail stamping? Thank you.

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    1. I haven't got any of the bigger ones myself but there are many plates on NinjaPolish.com with larger images!

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    2. MoYou London has the best plates for any size nail. also it is best to get the extra large stamper

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  33. Great post! I just got my bundle monster set plates BM1 - BM21. I like the ones I tried, but the full patterns are way too small for my thumb. Also, couldn't get the credit card to scrape right, so resorted back to the metal scraper. I hope I don't damage the plates too much.

    My big question for you is....Which company, or plates have the largest patterns for full nail stamping? Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. It seems MoYou London is the popular choice now for full nail stamping! But I still turn to Konad a lot, and recently Winstonia and Cheeky.

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  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  35. Hello,
    i bought the whole range of Konad products for nail art which includes stamper, scraper ,special nail polish and few plates...im just not able to pick the images from the plate on to my stamper...im really frustrated and sad, as i spent so much money and time on them. i tried them various times but no results...there is no image absolutely when i try to pick the image from the plate on to the stamper, though the polish is still not dried...somebody please help me...im very much interested to make them work on my nails....
    Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. you could try to buff your stamper, sometimes that helps people. otherwise i don't know what other tips to give you if you're following the other tips i outlined in the post :(

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  36. HI! This was very helpful :)I am a bit of a Gel Polish freak and haven't figured out how to use a stamp on the gel. Just wondering if you have tried it yet or have any tips? I'm thinking maybe I'd need to stamp over the top coat (after removing the tacky layer) then apply another top coat? I don't know...hoping there is a better way :) Thanks!

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    1. you're right, that's the way to do it! you need to remove the tacky layer or else your stamper will just slide around and not print. and of course you don't want to take the sticky layer off of your color, so you do need to topcoat, wipe, stamp, and then topcoat again.

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  37. I heard you cannot use special stamping polish to paint your nails, is that true?

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    Replies
    1. that's right - special polishes that are made for stamping are too thick to use to paint your nails. some people like to do detail painting with them however because of their strong pigmentation. but yeah, don't paint your nails with them.

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  38. Hey! Thanks so much for an amazing post :) I found out about Konad a good few months ago but it just looked confusing and I never even thought about looking into it. Then randomly decided to Google, found this page and it was so helpful that I went and got some from the Born Pretty store :D I just have two questions I'm hoping you could answer!

    1. The scrapper isn't taking all the polish off. It leaves residue on the side and transfers onto the nail along with the design :( I tried double scrapping and scrapping really hard but to no avail :S

    2. When scrapping hard (or not so hard) the plates get scratches. Should I be worried about this?

    x

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    Replies
    1. glad to help you!
      for both your questions i have the same answer - use a plastic scraper or a credit card/gift card instead! the plastic won't scratch your plates and it will give you a cleaner scrape. i have the same struggles as you when using metal ones.

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    2. I'll give that a try! Thank you for getting back to me :)

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  39. Hi!! Thanks for the informative post. I have one question: How do you store your plates? If you store them stacked on top of each other, will they scratch each other? Thanks!!

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    Replies
    1. bundle monster makes an amazinggggg plate storage book. it zippers closed and holds all standard sizes plates!! i LOVE it :)

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  40. Hi, i would like to ask , why nobody makes Brand logo plates as Lv ,D&G ,...? How can i find those logos ? Thank you

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    Replies
    1. i believe i have seen some on ebay! definitely LV ones. some might be on Ninja Polish also. you can deff get some! :)

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  41. i purchase this kit from starcj.com online and i got wrong stamp .it din't work .it is of white colour when i scrap with nail paint it does not show any reaction on stamp..

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  42. Hi, i have bought a stamping kit from ebay and i just cannot get the hang of it, for some reason the nail polish is being wiped right out of the design on the plate, i just can not get it to stay so i can stamp it, please help!!!!

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  43. Do you know where I can get plates engraved with my own designs?

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  44. I Do not know if you have tried them but MoYou London Stamping plates are By far the very best. Their designs are amazing and the stamping quality is better than any other that I have tried

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  45. have you had any luck trying to find a better white nail polish that's as good as whirlwind white? I'm still trying and so far it's none have come close. I did however try the new sephora formula x line from the twenty two set, and a lot of those work really well.

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    Replies
    1. Nope, I never found anything else in the regular polish market. I stick to Konad white, and now there are many other stamping brands available too such as indie brands like Mundo de Unas.

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  46. I'm new to stamping but so far I really like it. I practiced on a piece of paper to get the technique just right. Now I just need to practice placing it where I want on the nail. I'm a CND Shellac fanatic and really wanted to use the Shellac to stamp with. My first few attempts smeared a lot. I thought about other nail art with shellac that recommends a 10 second set in the UV lamp to thicken the Shellac a little. I put the polish on the plate and scrape and then put the plate in a UV lamp for 10 seconds. This allows me to easily transfer to the stamper and then to my nail with little to no smudging. Since it has only been 10 seconds you can follow all the same procedures for cleaning the plate as usual. Just thought I would share this tip.

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  47. I'm new to stamping but so far I really like it. I practiced on a piece of paper to get the technique just right. Now I just need to practice placing it where I want on the nail. I'm a CND Shellac fanatic and really wanted to use the Shellac to stamp with. My first few attempts smeared a lot. I thought about other nail art with shellac that recommends a 10 second set in the UV lamp to thicken the Shellac a little. I put the polish on the plate and scrape and then put the plate in a UV lamp for 10 seconds. This allows me to easily transfer to the stamper and then to my nail with little to no smudging. Since it has only been 10 seconds you can follow all the same procedures for cleaning the plate as usual. Just thought I would share this tip.

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    Replies
    1. Wow! Very cool; it's the first time I've read the suggestion. Thank-you Meghan! I guess it would work with gels other than the shellac too? I've been stamping with regular polish atop my Gelish/other gel polish base; but if I want a certain mani (together with its nail art) to last, this is a great option!

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    2. Wow that's really interesting! I do gels nails also for many clients and I just use regular stamping polish on a sealed nail, and finish with more gel topcoat. Because the layer of polish is so thin, you can seal it in between layers of the gel with no issues.

      And on the placement issue, it just takes practice girl! Sometimes I will stamp from cuticle to tip if I am really trying to aim something, that way I can look down the "barrel" of the nail and see where the stamp is going. But that doesn't work for all sorts of images.

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  48. I bought these stampers online... each plate is in a pink plastic baggy and it only says Image Plate Stamping Nail Art.... I feel dumb now because I should have known better than to buy any kind for a good price... I have played with it and I cant get it to work :( do mine just suck?? I wish I could show you what kind I got.

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    Replies
    1. Make sure there is no plastic film covering the plate, and if you followed all the other tips on this page then they might just be no good :(

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  49. I am a novice to stamping but really like doing nail art.Got a salon express set and Konad special nail polishes..But I seem unable to scrapp neatly :( its a plastic scrapper as u suggest. But the scrapping either removes nail polish or it will be very messy and smudgy.
    What to do? :( desperate to try out stamping...

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    Replies
    1. I find sometimes a metal scraper will work well on plates where a plastic one doesn't. First: try to angle your plastic scraper a bit more or less when you scrape; second: try a metal one. Most who complain about metal scrapers are concerned about the minor scratches on the image plate you can cause with use. They don't generally impact your results; so I'm not worried about the aesthetic of the plate.

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    2. Monika has some great suggestions! You can also try using an old gift card as a scraper.

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