How to Make Nail Decals with a Stamper (5 Easy Steps)




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Once you master a certain nail technique and bring it to perfection, that is the moment when you start thinking, okay – what’s next? If you are always on a mission to find the newest challenge, I bet you came across nail stamping at some point.

Decals in general are specially designed images that are printed on a special type of paper that makes them ready to be transferred to a glass or porcelain. Nail decals don’t need to be prepared on a special paper – they can be prepared directly on a stamper.

Winstonia Nail Art Stamper Jumbo Size for Nail Stamping Plate | Sticky Soft Marshmallow Pad | MILKY WHITE

To be able to make nail decals with a stamper, you would need to choose the right stamping nail polish, apply the top coat over the design, fill it with color and let it dry. After you have your design finished, use tweezers to transfer the decal onto the nail.

Precision is everything, so you need to be very careful with application and coloring in order not to ruin your design. Besides the step-by-step manual, stick with me while I explain if you can use something else like acrylic paint, rather than nail polish.

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What Is Reverse Stamping?

Before I dive into revealing secrets to easy nail stamping, let me explain two terms that are very well known within nail technicians – reverse stamping and lead lighting. It is important to understand the difference to be able to apply the correct technique.

Both of them are a form of nail technique whereas as a result, you get a colorful image on your nails, instead of monochromatic standard nails. The process of how you get there is what tells them apart.

Leadlighting is when you draw a pattern on the nails and then you apply color directly on top of them. This is usually achieved by stamping the nails with the image, and then coloring it. Think of this as a coloring book – you have the outlines and you just have to fill them with color.

If you are good with drawings, you can also freestyle the drawing on the nails and then color it – you would achieve the same effect. Nail stamper is used because it can help amateurs achieve nice and precise lines.

Reverse stamping is a technique where you finish the coloring and create the decal before you even apply the pattern to the nails. It is usually done by coloring the pattern while it is still on the stamper or the nail mat.

In general, there is no difference between whether you will use a stamper or a nail mat, but for beginners, the nail mat may seem more convenient because it offers a flat surface to work with. It is kind of a piece of paper you can draw onto.

The nail stamper usually has a surface that is rounded a little bit, so you can easily work around with the decal. If the stamper was completely flat, it would be difficult to detach transfer the decal onto the nail in a nice and even manner.

Reverse stamping is called reverse because technically you are coloring the back of the decal before you apply it to the nails. Besides the technique, there is not much difference between reverse stamping and lead lighting.

It is recommended that you start with reverse stamping on a nail mat, then switch to the stamper, and then go to freestyle lead lighting. It is similar to passing levels in a video game, going from the most simple to the most complicated technique.

How Can You Do It?

Getting your nails a nice decal look is not a decision you could make impulsively at the nail salon, because creating nail decals requires patience and planning. It is a delicate technique, but once you master it, it becomes easier to finish it faster.

If you have a nail salon, what would make a difference is that you have already prepared some standard patterns that you will be offering to your clients. To properly prepare and execute this technique, you would require around 30 to 60 minutes of preparation.

The key is to make the decal at the perfect time. If you prepare it too early, the decal may dry too much on the stamp, causing it to curl and lift off. A decal like this will not adhere to the nail properly, and the pattern won’t resemble the original one.

Decals that are too dry on the stamp will curl and they will not replicate the original design on the nails. Add to that that the nail surface is naturally curly and you have a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, it is also not good if the decals are not ready in time and are still very wet. 

Decals that haven’t sat on the stamp for enough time will appear smudged when transferred to the nail. This will also result in a ruined manicure and wasted time.

Choose the Right Stamping Polish

The first step when you go for the decals is to choose the right stamping polish. If you are new to the nail world, you may think that stamping and regular nail polish are the same things. To clear up the confusion – you cannot use regular nail polish for stamping purposes.

And what I mean by this is that if you do try to stamp with the regular nail polish, the design would not come up as it should. The lines would not be perfect, and the color may not have the right density.

Stamping polish and regular nail polish have very different formulas which makes them two very distinct products. With the regular nail polish, you have a thinner, lighter formula that will make the stamp very opaque, making the base color very see-through. 

On the other hand, the stamping nail polish formula is very thick which is very convenient for stamping. This will allow the stamp to achieve much higher color consistency and the nail design will stand out.

The process of application is really easy, just simply apply the nail polish on the stamp with a brush and make sure to wipe off any excess polish from the edges. This is important not to forget because too much polish in a thick layer will not dry nicely. 

Apply Top Coat

I know this may sound irrational, but the key to creating a successful design is to allow it to dry to a specific point on the stamp before you transfer the decal to the nails. After you apply the base stamping polish, the next step is a top coat. 

Usually, when you go shopping for a top coat, you are choosing the ones that promise to be completely dry in 60 seconds or less. But here you have to think the opposite. A good top coat for stamping does not dry too quickly.

Once you apply the top coat over the whole pattern, make sure to allow it enough time to dry before proceeding to the next step. Remember that patience is the key when you do nail stamping if you want the decal to turn out nice and appealing.

This step is necessary because it will replace the usual piece of paper people normally use when they create a standard decal. Without the top coat, there would not be a surface you could detach from the stamper later on.

If you forget to apply a top coat, and color the pattern on the stamper directly, then it would not be a nail decal anymore. You could still get the effect, only this time by standard stamping. 

Fill in the Design

Now you have come to the fun part! It is time to color the pattern and create the nice decal that will be transferred to your nails. In order to do this, you would need a few tools, usually a nail art brush or a small dotting tool.

The smaller the tip of the brush, the better. This will allow you greater precision when filling in the colors. If you do make a mistake, make sure you are using some non-acetone wipe to gently correct the mistake. 

Using acetone directly on the nail stamper will probably damage it because the nail stampers are made from delicate silicone. When in contact with acetone, holes may appear on the silicone stamper which will make it unusable in the future.

Once you finish coloring your pattern, allow the color to dry and the design to set before you stamp it on the nails. Again, I repeat that you have to be patient because if you lift off the decal too soon, all your effort would be for nothing.

Usually, it takes around five to ten minutes for the design to dry, and this solely depends on the quality of the stamping nail polish you have used. Some of them tend to dry quicker, while others need more time to work.

Prepare the Nails

Before you transfer the decal onto the nails, you must prepare and dry them. Also, as a part of the preparation, you can use a tape which you will apply around your cuticles. This will prevent the design from sticking to them.

Standard procedure when preparing the nails also takes into consideration the hydration of your cuticles and nails. Nail stamping and decals are believed to be less damaging to the nails and cuticles since you are not painting the nails directly.

However, your natural nails and skin still come in touch with the nail polish chemicals once the nail decal is in place. Also, once you place the decal, you will apply another layer of top coat to seal the look. This will be further explained later in the article.

Because of this, don’t forget to hydrate your hands with a good moisturizer before and after your manicure. Also, once you finish the manicure, apply nail and cuticle oil which will extra feed the nails and skin around. 

Use Tweezers to Maneuver

This is the moment when your nail design comes to life! Use tweezers to gently remove the image from the nail stamper. If the decal is coming off easily from the nail stamper, it means that it is ready for the next step.

Tweezerman Stainless Steel Mini Slant Tweezer, Neon Pink, 1 Count

However, be careful if you are having any issues with removing the decal. If it struggles to come off from the stamp or becomes stretchy – it is a clear sign that it has not dried yet properly. Leave it on the stamp for another 2 to 3 minutes before you try again to remove it.

Once you have safely removed the design, place it carefully onto the nails and press it firmly. If you are a beginner, the chances are that you will probably mess up something and create bubbles, but don’t worry, this can be corrected.

If you see bubbles that have formed under the decal, use scissors to gently pierce them and even out the surface of the decal. Also, the scissors can be used to trip down excess edges of the decal, according to the shape of your nail.

If the decal has gone over to the cuticles, or you feel like that part needs correction, go for a very thin brush that will help you. If you have an acrylic paintbrush, the smallest one will do the work.

Gently dip the tip of the brush in acetone and use it to remove the polish that has come too close to the cuticles. Because the decal is made of polish, after all, the acetone dipped brush will do marvelous work in disintegrating the nail polish.

Of course, to seal the look, you should apply a top coat. This time you can use the fast drying one to speed up the process. The top coat at this stage will protect the nail design and give it a shiny look. If you want, you can also apply a matte top coat, that will add a nice and elegant twist to your nail design.

Can Acrylic Paint Be Used for Nail Stamping?

So far I have explained the process of how to make a decal by using a stamping nail polish, but for decals and stamping you can only try out some different products. One of them is acrylic paint.

Although it may sound unusual, acrylic paint can be highly convenient when you are trying to create a decal. First of all, acrylic paint will save you more money in the long run.

The initial investment with the acrylic paint is slightly bigger than with the nail polish, but acrylic paint tends to last a lot longer than the latter product. Acrylic paint comes in a wide range of color palettes, and the colors are known for their consistency and density.

With regular nail polish, you may have trouble achieving density or consistency of color, especially if you are going for a lighter shade, like white, beige, or any other nude color. With acrylics, you are minimizing this risk.

If the acrylic paint is good, you will have no problems reaching the right color. You can choose from a standard palette of colors, but there are also other variations available – for example, you can go for neon colors or even the ones that glow in the dark. 

Another benefit of acrylic paint is that it is non-toxic, meaning it is also perfect for little girls who copy their mom in everything, even with the nails. Regular nail polishes are not recommended for child use, but acrylic paint is marked safe.

Also, acrylic paint dries faster than the regular stamping nail polish does, so if you are looking for time-saving tips, this is the one for you. I must say it will not make such a significant difference, but if you are very impatient, you will notice it.

To be able to use acrylic paint while stamping, you should follow all the steps as already described, but you have to double-check if the paint is dry before you proceed with the next step and before you eventually place the decal on the nail.

This is because the acrylic paint comes in powdery form, and it is very fragile in its original state. To avoid this, make sure the acrylic is completely dry, as already mentioned.

How to Remove Nail Decals?

Removal of some type of manicure can be a real hustle. For example, gel or acrylics require special preparation, and the removal process needs to be followed step by step. Many fall into believing that nail decals also have a specific way to be removed. 

Nail decals are easily removed only with a basic, regular nail polish remover. After all, don’t forget how you made the nail decal in the first place – you painted nail polish on top of a layer of a top coat. 

Because of this, any acetone or non-acetone-based nail polish remover will quickly dissolve the nail decal and remove it from your nails. Just like when you are removing regular nail polish.

Beware that your hands and nails will be very dehydrated after the use of these products, so make sure to compensate for lost moisture by using a nice quality hand cream and/or nail and cuticle oil.


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