Many of us stamping fanatics have fairly large collections. But stamping is not for everyone and some people lose patience with it quickly. So it is best not to spend a fortune until you are sure it is for you. But where to start? Is it worth spending money on stamping polishes? What kind of stamper should you buy? Everyone will recommend different things, but here are my basics.
If you are in the US and have no stamping supplies at all, head to your local Walmart where they just started selling an awesome Pueen starter kit for just $10. It includes a stamper, black and white stamping polishes and a single rectangle plate with 12 full size nail images. I personally have this stamper from the Love Box Kit and it picks up really well. Combined with two decent quality stamping polishes, it is the perfect way to start.
Should you use regular or special stamping polishes?
I know I am in the minority here, partly because we don’t have the same selection of cheap opaque polishes in Canada. For me, with some exceptions for amazing polishes, stamping polishes are worth the money. They dry differently giving you a little more time to work and are more opaque over base colours.
If nothing else, get yourself stamping polishes of the basics. black, white, silver, gold and a good red and yellow if you will be using those. A regular white may show over dark colours, but it won’t look truly white.
Mundo de Unas sells the minis shown in my image for just $1.65 each and you need a small amount so they last. Well worth the money and the 2-3 week wait. She usually has a 10% off code on the homepage too. With shipping, I got 10 bottles for around $20 last time I ordered. By the time you try different regular polishes to see if they work, dry them etc, you will spend at least that for 10 that work for you.
Other options are Bundle Monster (sold on Amazon, Walmart.com or direct). Or try Beautometry for Hit The Bottle, Messy Mansion, Moyra and more but they are significantly more expensive. In Canada, check out Girly Bits or Harlow & Co for stamping polishes. Born Pretty and AliExpress have many cheap options but with slow shipping, you may lose interest. Personally, I prefer Mundo de Unas polishes over many of the cheaper Asian ones but get the basics then stock up when they are super cheap to buy abroad. If ordering from Born Pretty, use coupon code HNEX31 to save 10%.
If you are going to try regular polishes. Choose a colour and google for good shades (best gold stamping polishes for example). Essie has an amazing gold but sucks for many other colours. You want something opaque that covers your nail completely in one thin coat.
Nail Stamping Plates For Beginners
I buy the majority of my stamping plates from Born Pretty and AliExpress just for cost reasons. If you don’t have any plates though, opt for a decent brand name on this side of the world. There is nothing worse than waiting forever when you are excited to get started. I started with the cheap Shany round set, regular polishes and a hard stamper and pretty much gave up on stamping until I was gifted a Messy Mansion stamper and plate.
- Pueen has a few plates as well as the starter kit at Walmart
- Bundle Monster plates are also sold at Amazon, Walmart.com or direct
- Beautometry sells MoYou London plates which are amazing if a little more expensive along with a large list of other brands
- Amazon.com sells a range of brands including a reseller of Born Pretty plates using Prime so you get them soon. Start with the bigger names like Born Pretty, Bundle Monster, Ejiubas, Messy Mansion, and Pueen which tend to be well etched.
Get a few to play with while waiting for all the cheap ones to mail from abroad!
When choosing plates, look for plates that are well etched. Ones with really fine lines can be hard to pick up as the polish dries more quickly. At the same time, ones with large areas of polish can be tricky as you have to swipe carefully to get the right amount of polish. The ones with pineapples shown here look super cute coloured in, when they work but often you get bald spots in the background. Same with the other two marked. While some of the smaller images dry too quickly and don’t pick up like the lines on the candy canes in the centre image or the love text above it.
Best Nail Stamper For Beginners?
Choosing your perfect stamper is probably the worst thing about stamping. Some work great with certain polishes and not others. As a beginner, don’t go for those hard small ones (like the lighter pink one on the bottom of my image). You will smear the image trying to get it on the sides of your nail. They are ok for tiny flowers etc, but horrible for whole nail images.
For ease of use, go for something with a fairly large head. Not too firm, not too soft. My go to stamper for a tricky image or polish is the Creative Shop regular stamper with the white head. It picks up practically anything. It also works whether I roll it or squish it. If your stamper is too squishy, it will distort if you press too hard.
I started with the purple Messy Mansion one you see on the right and still use it occasionally. The rectangle shape gives me control over placement, the rounded head makes it easy to roll and it is nowhere near as fussy as a clear jelly stamper.
As a beginner. DO NOT BUY A CLEAR STAMPER. Even advanced stampers sometimes want to throw their clear jelly type stampers across the room. They do not work with some polishes at all and polishes dry differently on them. As you can tell, I have a few of them because of this. The one top right is my cheapest stamper but works the best. If it was not for the rounded head, I would use it most of the time.
- Pueen stamper from starter kits
- This Bundle Monster set
- Or either of these stampers from Bundle Monster (Round XL – not to be confused with the cheap lookalikes that often have harder stamp heads or Semi Squishy Mega stamper)
- Any Creative Shop stamper (available from What’s Up Nails)
- The Christmas stamper from Born Pretty (but only the white head for some reason)
- This $2 Born Pretty stamper is a favourite for many people
If you want to get started with a clear stamper, I love this one from Born Pretty. It is a little too rounded for my personal preference but I live with that as it picks up 99% of polishes and transfers beautifully. It is also great to learn how to roll a stamper as it is very domed. If buying any of the Born Pretty products, enter HNEX31 to save 10%
What Else Do You Need?
- Acetone and cotton balls- not nail polish remover which will leave oils on your plates
- Something to protect your work surface, stamping is messy
- Lint Roller – wipe off bad transfers and leftovers from the stampers without using chemicals
- Cotton Claw (or peg, anything to hold a ball of cotton) for cleaning without wrecking your nails
- Lots and lots of patience!
Disclosure This post includes both press samples and affiliate links.