AKA This Is Not A Cohesive Mani, But I Had Fun
Being the nail obsessed person that I am, I decided I had to take advantage of the current dollar-pound exchange rate (sorry, UK) and order some new goodies from MoYou London. If you don’t know MoYou London (not be be confused with MoYou US, which is NOT the same), they’re pretty much the gold standard of stamping plates, at least in my mind. I have ordered stamping plates from them once before, and was quite impressed. Their plates are well designed, both in terms of aesthetics and how they stamp. They have a huge catalog with a wide variety of designs. They carry everything you need to get started, and now have a US warehouse, so you don’t even have to wait on international shipping. If you’re thinking of starting stamping, I recommend you check them out.
All of this being said, I think BundleMonster also makes very good plates, especially if you are looking for a more cost effective option. They don’t have nearly as much selection, and occasionally the combination of patterns on a plate seems a bit random, but they generally have nice plates that stamp well. My favorite thing BundleMonster does is create word cloud plates for various seasons or themes, which I think is really cute.
ANYWAY, I ordered a nail art mat, MoYou’s “Your Magic Workshop”. It’s a silicone (I think, the site doesn’t say) mat that gives you a great nail art surface for messy projects, mixing colors, and trying techniques like reverse stamping. It’s stain and acetone-proof. A number of other nail art companies make a similar product, and I’ve read that placemats (from the dollar store even) and thin cutting boards can also work well (just be sure to check that they’re acetone-proof).
Before I get to the reverse stamping part, here’s how stamping works: You paint your nails a desired color. Then you take the color you want to stamp with and paint over the design on the nail plate and scrape away the excess paint with a scraper. You pick up the design with a stamp, immediately apply to the nail, and let dry. Then apply topcoat. There are tons of tutorials out there on this, so I’m not going to go into too great of detail. I will someday try and make a stamping tutorial post- once I’ve figured out all the tricks.
Here’s how reverse stamping works: You paint a layer of clear top coat (not a fast dry one) on your mat. Once it’s dry, you stamp your pattern onto the top coat. Again, let it dry, and then you can use a thin brush to color in the pattern and create your design. After another round of drying, you gently peel up your decal and use manicure scissors trim the edges so it is close to the size you want. You can either create a decal to cover the whole nail, or a smaller one to apply like a nail sticker. Then you apply a layer of top coat to your nail, and apply the decal (the side with the clear coat is the top, the side you painted applies to the nail). Then you trim off any extra, and apply a last coat of top coat. And bam! Amazing nail art.
Not surprisingly, both stamping and reverse stamping can be hard to get the hang of and doesn’t always turn out well. It’s definitely a learning process, but has great rewards. It took me a while to get started on this; I made mistakes. I tried to use Freedom Polymer Top Coat, which is more of a quick dry, and kept peeling up. For some reason, I could not get my stamper to work at first. I was getting really frustrated. But once I got moving, it was a lot of fun, and started having more success. I’ve already rambled on A LOT, so I’m just going to share pictures for the most part. Hover over the photos to see the captions.
Polishes used in this mani: Julep Johnny, Julep Aurora, Julep Celia, Julep Phoebe, Julep Moni, Julep Ally, Julep Madelynn, Ever After Mermalicous, FM Oh La La, FM Look on the Bright Side, FM Let’s Get Physical, FM Reach for the Sky, FM Don’t Be Shy, FM Tickle Me Pink, and ILNP Atlantis. For my top coat, I used American Classics Gelous Advanced Nail Gel Coat, which worked really well. Yes, I went way overboard. It was fun!
Final thoughts: It’s important to pick stamping patterns that have a lot of blank space so you have something to paint. You basically want an outline to color. A really pigmented polish that stamps well is key for your outline. If you’re going for a really finished look, stick to a set color scheme and maybe don’t use 15 polishes. I was really just messing around, and was quite pleased with the results. I can’t wait to try reverse stamping again!