Nail Art 101: How to Pick a Stamping Plate


This is a difficult article to write because picking a stamping plate is hugely personal preference. By the end of this article, you will not know which is the “best” brand of stamping plates. Rather, you will be able to more closely examine what’s important to you in a stamping plate so that you can make that decision yourself! There are 100’s, if not 1,000’s, of companies producing stamping plates. I have about 8 different brands. That doesn’t mean I’m not experienced in making mistakes, though! There are definitely some plates I regret purchasing.

1. Check Out the Brand’s Social Media for Customer Satisfaction

Yes! This is step one! One big red flag is when customer commenting is turned off. This is the first step a brand with a lot of complaints makes – especially when they’re not dealing with the complaints. I’m sure there are legitimate reasons why a brand would turn off customer commenting, but this is a red flag to me.

A good sign is a lot of people posting things like “Got my plates today!!! Can’t wait to play!” or bloggers (like yours truly!) posting their manicures. I do NOT post manicure to brand pages I dislike. (Mostly because I don’t use their plates!) Another good sign is when there are customer complaints (there always will be – nobody is perfect) and the brand responds to the post and seems to care about resolving the complaint quickly.

Also check out what the brand is posting on their page. You want to see pics of happy customer comments/nail art, new releases, and announcements. You don’t want to see frequent explanations as to why things are late, behind, messed up, etc. (Yes, life happens. But frequent explanations of why they’re messing up is a red flag!) I don’t care how amazing your plates are, if you can’t get them to me in a timely manner and in good condition, you’re not a brand I want to use.

2. Check Out Bloggers’ Manicures Using the Brand

Not all bloggers are at the same skill level, but you should look for mostly crisp images. If the brand has been around for a while and you can’t find a single blogger with an image from one of their plates, this is a red flag. I know that I, personally, don’t usually post my total screw-ups. Sometimes I will, just for fun, but nobody really wants to look at a total train-wreck mani. If there are mysteriously NO pictures of mani’s using the brand, this should be a clue that something might be wrong. Keep in mind that if the brand is super new, they might not have had a chance to get the word out there. But do YOU want to be their guinea pig? (The answer to that is probably no! I’m going to go on a quick tangent… If you are a brand reading this, this is one of the reasons why blogger/brand relationships are mutually beneficial. We, the bloggers, can help get the word out without the customer feeling like they are taking a big risk.)

You can see all of my manicures with the label ‘stamping’ by clicking here.

3. Time to Choose Some Plates!

So you’ve found a brand you’re interested in, their social media looks happy, and you saw some blogger manicures that you adore. Now how do you pick from their big, big selections?? Let’s go through some Do’s and Don’ts.

DO measure your nails so you know what size you need. Some plates come in standard and extra-large sizes. You don’t want to be stuck with images too small or too large for your nails.

DON’T buy a plate because you like one single image on it. You want to get at least a few different manicures out of every plate! (Ok. If you need it for the TARDIS, buy the whole plate. But that’s pretty much the only exception ;) )

The only reason I bought this plate was because of the image of Marilyn Monroe. I LOVE Marilyn, but a few manicures with her likeness on them do not justify purchasing this plate.


DO decide if you prefer full nail designs, single images, or a combo of both on a plate. I strongly prefer full nail images so it’s just a silly waste of money when I get sucked in to buying a plate with mostly single images. I just don’t use them! See image plate above!! Not only did I only buy it for Marilyn, it’s also only single images. And I prefer full nail designs. What was I thinking?

DO be honest with yourself about your skill level. Some designs must be straight on the nail to look good. Others, you can stamp all willy nilly (such as vines and leaves) and it will still look great. If you’re a beginner, choose plates that have designs where the orientation on the nail does not matter.

This plate’s designs must be applied straight on the nail, or else it won’t look right.


This plate’s designs can be applied at any angle on the nail and it will still look great!


DO look at how much polish each design will need. The more polish it needs, the easier it will be to smear when you’re stamping.

Most of the designs on this plate will need a lot of polish.


Most of the designs on this plate need little polish.


4. Evaluate the Plate Once It Arrives

One of the main questions I get is people asking me how to tell if a plate is etched well. I don’t believe there is a way to tell this until it arrives and is in your hands. Even within the same seller, there will be variations amongst different designs. When you’re ready to play with your plate, try a few different polish/stamper combinations to see what the plate likes the best. If you are unhappy with your plate, contact the seller. More than likely, they will issue a refund or replacement. This part is why step 1 is so important!! If, for whatever reason, you are stuck with the plate but you don’t want it, you can try joining a plate swapping group on Facebook.

If you are happy with your plate, then hooray! You have made a good buying decision and I hope that you have many beautiful manicures from it!

Ok! Ok! I know you came here looking for brand recommendations. Well if you made it to the bottom of this article, then I guess you deserve them. :) My current favorites (subject to change) are:

  • High Price Point: MoYou London (Ships from London. Takes a few weeks.)
  • Mid-Range Price Point: Cici&Sisi (Amazon Prime! Hey, baby! Great for impatient people like me!)
  • Low Price Point: Born Pretty Store (Ships from China. Takes a few weeks.)

And finally, a tip from my husband: When you really can’t decide, just close your eyes and point at one! :)

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Author: Anne

Blogging about makeup, dogs, and mostly NAIL POLISH!