Nail Art 101: The Basics of Stamping


In this article you will learn how to stamp, which is a very popular form of nail art.. This article is meant for the new stamper as well as for people who have tried stamping, but are getting frustrated. Perhaps going back to the basics will relieve your frustration! Be sure to check out the other articles in my Nail Art 101 series!

Stamping Supplies Needed:

  • A fully dried manicure. (Sometimes referred to as the base color)
    • Base Coat, Nail Polish, Top Coat – Allow to fully dry
    • Top Coat will be used at the end of stamping as well.
    • Impatient like me? Check out my Dry Time Top Coat Showdown.
  • Stamping Plate
  • Stamping Polish (Don’t know which to pick? See my stamping polish article here!)
  • Old Credit Card (or similar style piece of plastic)
  • Rubber Stamper (Don’t know which to pick? See my stamper article here!)
  • Cotton Balls
  • Remover (such as acetone)

Optional Stamping Supplies

  • Lint Roller
  • “The Claw” (What is the claw? Click here for the Amazon link)
  • Acetone
  • Cleanup brush


Step 1

On your selected design area, paint the stamping polish.



Step 2

Use your old credit card or piece of plastic (I use old hotel room keys) to scrape the excess polish away. You may need to quickly go in 2-3 directions to ensure the only polish that’s left is what is sitting in the etched design. (Why don’t I recommend the metal scraper that comes with most stamping plate sets? That metal is going to scratch your beautiful plates! Over time, that will ruin them. Plastic gets the job done without doing damage.)



Step 3

Press your stamper on to the design.



Step 4

Press your stamper on your nail. I do a combination of pressing my nail to the stamper. They kinda meet halfway. It makes it easier to get things straight.


Step 5

Wipe the plate with a cotton ball dipped in acetone to clean away excess polish. (Depending on the design, you might only need to do this every 2-3 nails. If you are new, I recommend doing this step each time to ensure a fresh start each time.) This is why I love using the claw. I can clean the plate without ruining my mani! No claw? Use a tampon! :) (That’s not a joke. Seriously. I used a tampon for this step for a long time before I ‘splurged’ and bought the claw.)



Then, use the lint-free cloth to soak up any remaining acetone from the plate.


Step 6

Press the stamper on the lint roller to remove remaining polish. If you don’t have a lint roller, use another form of tape. No tape? Quickly swipe with acetone, as long as you’re not using a squishy marshmallow stamper.


Step 6

Repeat 9 more times!


Step 7

Apply a top coat! I like to wait a minute or two before doing this step to help ensure that my top coat doesn’t smear the stamping. Some stamping doesn’t even need a top coat! For example, metallics and matte polish!


Step 8 (Optional)

Clean up is optional! Many people just like to let nature take its course and let the mess get taken off in the shower. If you’re going to be taking pictures like me, however, I do recommend cleaning up. I will be writing a completely different article on cleanup so¬† stay tuned!


Steps 1-4 should take no more than 10-15 seconds. You will want to work quickly so the polish does not dry in the plate or on your stamper.



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Author: Anne

Blogging about makeup, dogs, and mostly NAIL POLISH!