Nail Art 101: How to Pick a Stamping Polish


One of the never-ending tasks of doing stamping as a form of nail art is finding good stamping polishes. This article will tell you the ones I’ve already discovered to be good, but will also tell you what to look for to discover some on your own!

Specialty Stamping Polishes

If you are new to stamping or if you’re having problems, I highly suggest starting with specialty stamping polishes. This will save you a lot of headaches and ruined manicures! You can certainly use non-specialty polishes for stamping, but as you’re learning, it’s best to let the polish do some of the work for you. The most popular brands are:

  • Konad: I have used Konad for years and it was my first stamping polish. It is reliable and easy to get.
  • Bundle Monster: I recently started using Bundle Monster. I have been pleased so far and it is easy to get.
  • Mundo de Unos: These are extremely opaque and come in a variety of colors. It does ship from Mexico, so it’s not as fast or easy to get as the other two. In my experience, it takes about a month from the day you order to the day it’s at your door, but that will absolutely vary based on your location and time of year. MDU also has a very pungent smell. It smells like acrylic paint and when it’s lingering, it smells a little like moth balls. However, once dry on your nails, it doesn’t smell anymore.



Drugstore Polishes that Stamp

You’ll notice I said “Drugstore polishes that stamp” instead of “Drugstore stamping polish”. It’s a small nuance but the difference is that there is not a drugstore brand (to my knowledge) that makes a polish specifically intended for stamping. Therefore, this is trial and error. There is one line of polish that has been quite reliable for many stamping lovers: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri. However, it is only the creme ones that stamp reliably. The shimmer finishes do not transfer well. I have a variety of colors from the SH Insta-Dri line and I consider all of them stamping polishes.

Another brand that has some stamping quality polishes is Sinful Colors. Their colors Snow Me White, Black on Black, Casablanca(silver) and Gold Medal(gold) all have a reputation for being able to stamp.

In general, if a polish is designed to be applied in one coat, as is the case with the SH Insta-Dri, then it is worth trying to stamp with.



Indie Stamping Polishes

There are very few indie brands that make specialty stamping polish. If you already like a brand, or if they have a good reputation, it is worth purchasing to see if it stamps. MDU, as mentioned above, would also be considered an indie and it’s a specialty stamping polish. Mundo de Unas is made in and ships from Mexico.


How to Tell if a Polish Will Work

In general, if a polish can be applied with almost near full-coverage in one coat, then it’s a good candidate for stamping. (There are some exceptions – see “Finishes that do not stamp well” below.) The only way to tell this is to buy the polish and go home and swatch it on your nails. There is not a surefire way to tell in the store if the polish is a one-coater. But, in general, if you pull the brush out and you can’t see the bristles and it doesn’t drip easily, then it has some good potential. It will likely work on at least a contrasting color. If it doesn’t work, luckily, many stores have a great return policy, even on used cosmetics. So if you buy something just for stamping and it doesn’t work, then feel free to return it.

This is really trial and error. To avoid frustration, start with colors that are very different in lightness and darkness (I mean your base color vs. your stamping color). This will ensure that the polish will show up and then you can determine from there if you like the stamping qualities.



Finishes That Stamp Well

There are some finishes that tend to stamp well regardless of original purpose or brand. Those finishes are holographics, matte, and foil polishes. The two most well-known examples of this are the Color Club Halo Hues and the Sally Hansen Color Foils. I have had nothing but success when stamping with the CC Halo Hues. The key is to make sure you have a base color that will ensure the holo will pop. Unfortunately, the SH Color Foils were limited edition and are now very difficult to find. I bring them up, however, because they are an excellent example of a polish that stamps well due to the finish.

I have also had a lot of success using matte polishes to stamp. With matte polishes, you have to work at lightening speed to ensure the polish isn’t dry when you’re ready to apply to your nail. I would recommend waiting to stamp with matte polishes until you’re comfortable stamping with cremes, otherwise, you might become quite frustrated.



Finishes That do not Stamp Well

There are also some finishes that just don’t tend to stamp well. Texture polish does not stamp. It’s fun to stamp on top of texture, but as the stamping polish, it will not work. Glitters will also not stamp. I don’t care how full-coverage the glitter is, it’s not going to work out well. Again, glitters are gorgeous to stamp on top of, though! Shimmers and jellies will also not stamp well. They don’t tend to have enough opaqueness to get the job done.

(Notice how there are no pictures for this section? LOL!)

I hope this article was helpful to you! In short, I recommend starting with a specialty stamping polish, then moving to something like the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri line that has seen success with many other stampers. From there, it’s time for you to experiment!

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Author: Anne

Blogging about makeup, dogs, and mostly NAIL POLISH!