Nail Art 101: Troubleshooting Stamping Problems



Welcome to another installment of Nail Art 101! This article will cover how to troubleshoot stamping problems. By the end of this article, you should have a four step process to identify and solve your stamping problems! These are the same steps – in the same order – that I take when I run into problems. My issue is usually solved by step 1! No promises since we are all working with a different set up, but hopefully these steps will tackle the vast majority of your stamping problems.

Please be sure to check out my other articles in my Nail Art 101 series as well!


Troubleshooting Stamping Problems

Before we really dive into the tips, there is one thing I see happen all the time. If you’re new to stamping, then you probably don’t realize that all stamping plates come with a film on top. Most of the time it’s blue which makes it obvious. But sometimes, it’s clear which makes it much harder to see! If your stamping plate isn’t working at all, make sure you pulled the film off the plate. About half the time, this is the issue people have when they are trying stamping for the very first time. I usually have to use some tweezers to get a corner started before I can peel it off a new plate.


Step 1: Investigate the Stamper

The very first thing I do when I run into problems is blame the stamper. ;) I have this as step one because it is so frequently the cause of my problems. As you learned in my How to Pick a Stamper article, each different kind of stamper will behave differently.

  • Clean the stamper: I use a quick swipe of acetone. Some people use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Both work well to remove any grease or other build up on the stamper. I prefer acetone, but only because it’s more convenient. You should skip this step if your stamper is a squishy marshmallow.
  • Switch stampers: If cleaning your preferred stamper doesn’t work, change what style you are using. I generally move in the direction of more firm. Squishy stampers tend to be more finicky while firm stampers are better troopers.


In this picture, you can see that changing stampers makes a huge difference. The pink Konad Stamper on the far right did an excellent job of picking up the design while all the others did a pretty bad job. The only one that comes close is the green stamper which picked up most of the design. All of these had already been cleaned with a swipe of acetone so that step had already been done.




Step 2: Change the Stamping Polish

So changing the stamper didn’t work? If that’s the case, then it’s time to take a look at the chosen stamping polish. Not all polishes were created equal. If you haven’t already, check out my article How to Pick a Stamping Polish.

  • If possible, try and change to a specialty stamping polish such as Konad or Bundle Monster.
  • Try a thick creme polish – one that only really needs one coat with a regular mani
  • Try a metallic polish paired with a firm stamper


In this picture, you can see that all the stampers did an excellent job of picking up the design. This is the exact same design as above and the exact same stampers. But, they perform very differently when you change what polish they are working with.



Step 3: Change the Design

It’s entirely possible the plate isn’t etched well. If your stamper/polish combo works quite well with “Design A” but all of a sudden can’t handle “Design B”, then I am inclined to blame the etching on the plate. If you notice this same problem with every design on a plate, I would contact the seller and alert them to the problem. If you did the research I suggested in my How to Pick a Stamping Plate article, it’s very likely you’ve purchased from a reliable seller and they will do right by you – whether it’s with a replacement or a refund.


Step 4: Tweak Your Technique

If you’re at this point and still no combinations are working, we want to make sure your technique is just right.

  • Make sure you’re working quickly. When you scrape the excess nail polish off the plate, you’ve only left a thin layer in the design. This means it will dry quickly! If you let it dry, then the polish won’t pick up.
  • Related to the first point, you have to work quickly after your stamper has picked up the design. That polish is drying and it’s drying fast. Your job is to get it on the nail before it does.
  • Don’t scrape too hard. If you have patchy designs where holes of polish are missing, then it’s possible you’re scraping too hard and not leaving enough polish in the design.
  • Turn off the A/C. Air conditioners suck moisture out of the room which means that it’s also drying your polish quicker than usual. This is normally a good thing…but not when you’re stamping!



Thanks for stopping by and reading today’s Nail Art 101 article! I hope it was helpful for you and I wish you many successful stamped manicures! Please let me know in the comments what else you’d like to see in this series!

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Author: Anne

Blogging about makeup, dogs, and mostly NAIL POLISH!