Sun-kissed bliss!

S&M 14 August 2018 A

This design meshes two lovely brights, Sun Kissed Bliss and A Tribe Called Cool, from the Just for You III (in Europe)/Secrets (in UK) collection from Harmony Gelish. After a couple years of searching I finally got my hands on some colors from this collection, which I’ve been referring to as simply the Just For You (JFY) collection because it’s only JFY collection we in the US have had. For more information about the full collection I recommend you check out Elysia’s Harmony nail blog, as she’s done a great job of swatching the full collection.  Fair warning: You may want to buy ALL the colors after reading her posts! (Note that I bought these from a US Seller online, and I don’t think they were re-directed from Europe since they have item numbers that fall in between the items numbers from the Gelish Winter 2017 and Spring 2018 collections. See my list of Gelish colors for item numbers.)

For the flower design I used Clear Jelly Stamper (CJS) layered stamping plate Cjs-14 with Born Pretty Store (BPS) stamping polish. I wanted to have white flowers but the Born Pretty stamping polishes were so uncooperative (and my latest shipment of CJS polishes hadn’t come in yet) that I just used whatever would work. I’ve had so much trouble with BPS polishes not stamping lately that I got rid of them. If you want great results with your stamping, I highly recommend the CJS polishes and plates.

S&M 14 August 2018 B

This was also a good time to update my list of Gelish colors with the new fall 2018 collection plus the colors from the JFY/Secrets collection. Check out that list for info on all the Gelish US colors ever.

If you know where we in the US can purchase the rest of the JFY/Secrets collection, please let me know in the comments. There are some other great colors that I’d love to have!

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High Voltage!

S&M 6 June 2018

This week I continued testing the new Gelish Structure Gel in Cover Pink, this time with two coats under Gelish gel polish. I shortened my nails a little, and the two coats of Structure seems to be keeping them strong at this length. Here I’ve used the Cover Pink Structure Gel as a base for High Voltage and Cellophane Coat from the Make a Splash collection for summer 2018.

While I really like the security Structure provides while keeping a natural feel to the nail, it doesn’t provide shape the way enhancement products would.  It actually makes the nails look a bit rounder and accentuates any odd curvature of the nails. If you prefer to have longer nails with the clean lines and perfect shapes you can achieve when filing acrylic and hard gel, you may prefer Prohesion, Gelish Hard Builder Gel, or Polygel®.

On the nails with High Voltage I stamped using Clear Jelly Stamper (CJS) stamping polish and plate CJS LC-03, as well as a white China Glaze polish (which I wasn’t really happy with).  Here’s a macro shot of one of the nails:

S&M 6 June 2018 B

Though I was happy with how this set turned out, I’m wishing I had a CJS white stamping polish. I’ve tried lots of different stamping products over the last decade, and CJS is the superior product.  Their plates and polishes work nicely together, and they work consistently well.

Just Tutu much!

S&M 31 December 2017

For this design I used Gelish colors from the holiday and winter 2017 collections:

  • Plum-Thing Magical
  • Just Tutu Much
  • Ice Cold Gold

On the purple nails I stamped a scroll design using Clear Jelly Stamper plate CJS-13, then topped with the Ice Cold Gold glitter.

I’m loving my new Clear Jelly Stamper! I have tried many stampers over the years, and this one is by far the most comfortable and easiest to stamp with.  If you haven’t already heard about this stamper, check out my Clear Jelly Stamper unboxing video on the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel to see some of the items you can purchase.

Unboxing: XL Clear Jelly Stamper, plates, and stamping polish

A couple weeks ago I ordered the Big Bling XL stamper and some stamping plates and polishes from ClearJellyStamper.com. I had heard about the original clear jelly stamper before, but finally decided to give it a try after I saw Suzie from Nail Career Education interview the inventor of the clear jelly stamper, Debbie, and try the products in this video. I had never seen layered stamping for nails before, and really wanted to try it out!

S&M clear jelly stamper kitClear Jelly Stamper (CJS) offers an array of products for stampers of all levels. I already knew what stamped looks I wanted to create, and so I ordered:

For a peek at what I got, please watch my CJS unboxing video at the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel. Then, stay tuned for my demo video coming soon!

Have you tried CJS products yet? If so, please leave me a comment and let me know how they worked for you!

Marshmallow Manicure

S&M 1 October 2017.jpg

About a month ago I saw a post on the Nails Magazine website about the “marshmallow manicure” that Morgan Taylor lead artist Gina Edwards had created for Caroline Herrera’s Spring 2018 NYFW collection models.

While Gina Edwards used Heaven Sent (formerly Little Princess) for the white color, I decided to use the new white called I’m Drawing a Blanco, from the fall 2017 Matadora Gelish collection.  I’m Drawing Blanco does have a bit of shimmer to it, which I embellished with some rhinestones and Gelish Grand Jewels to create this design. The butterfly is a double-stamped (first white, then black) image from stamping plate BP-07 I purchased at The Born Pretty Store.

Bashful

S&M 29 May 2017

This design was done with 2 coats of Bashful topped with one coat of A Moment of Magic, both by Gelish.

Then, in white stamping polish from Born Pretty, I stamped a design from the Morgan Taylor Designer Plate 3720201-2. I used the scraper and the clear stamper that came in the Designer Plates Flirty Florals kit.  As you can see, the stamper transferred the design beautifully. The design on the plate easily provided full coverage on these long nails.

When the stamped design was dry, I added dots in the centers of the larger flowers using Tinsel by China Glaze. Though I stamped these nails, I used Gelish Top It Off as I would for any gel polish manicure. It works very well for sealing stamped designs like this!

 

So hot!

S&M 23 January 2106.jpg

This is Gelish I’m So Hot from the Red Matters Collection, stamped with Born Pretty Plate BP-L002.  I double stamped this design – first with black paint, then matched up the lines as much as possible to stamp in silver.

Some more information on nail art stamping

Lately I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on nail art stamping plate brands that are available for purchase in the U.S., and I wanted to share some of the information I have gathered with you, as well as some of my own tips for successful stamping. I am going to share links to a lot of other blogs’ posts because it would be unnecessary to duplicate the work that these lovely bloggers have already done.

If you are brand new to stamping, start with this informational video from The Nail Junkkie or this in-depth video from Chickettes before diving into the information below.

Stamping Plate brands and reviews:

  • Konad – This is the brand that started it all but, unfortunately, the plates are somewhat hard to find, and knock-offs abound.  Here’s a review of a single plate from Samarium’s Swatches and a review of a Konad kit from Swatch & Learn. You can buy authentic Konad plates and accessories at wowsocool.com.
  • Bundle Monster – This company has a few sets of plates, all priced very nicely.  I own all the sets and can highly recommend them myself, as they have high quality images that stamp crisply.  Here’s a review from ChitChatNails.
  • Pueen – These stamping plates generally get good reviews. Check out this one Colores De Carol or this one from ChitChatNails.  Ready to buy? You can find these on the Pueen website or on Amazon.com
  • MoYou London – This company is serious about their branding! Their stamping plates come in themed collections, which I thought was a great idea, even though most of the collections didn’t appeal to me.   Their newest plate collections take the themes a step further in that they have a lady’s name and her persona that dictates the theme of the collection, such as Amy the Rebel or Olive the Sailor.  I haven’t tried any of these plates yet myself but based on the good reviews, like this one from Lucy’s Stash, I plan to in the future. In the U.S. you can buy them on Amazon.com (search for the name of the collection plus the plate number).
  • Cheeky – This company offers jumbo plates (meaning the designs are bigger, for full nail coverage) which are great for people with wide or long nails, so that they don’t have to double stamp. No Nude Nails has a review of these plates for you here. The plates are available for purchase on Cheeky-Beauty.com or on Amazon.com.
  • Winstonia – I haven’t tried these yet, but they got great reviews from nail art bloggers. Here’s a review from Nailed It, and you can buy these plates from Amazon.com or the Winstonia Store.
  • SHANY Cosmetics – over the past couple years I’ve seen reviews from quite a few bloggers on these, though I’ve never tried them myself. Here’s a review from Nail Crazy.  The SHANY Cosmetics website has these for you to buy, or you can get them from Amazon.com.

Here are reviews for some lesser-known brands:

Note that there are other brands available from other countries.  If the brand isn’t readily available for purchase in the U.S., I haven’t included them in this list.

Stampers and Scrapers:

  • Konad – You can find a variety of scrapers plus stampers in multiple sizes at WowSoCool.com.  This should be your go-to stamper if you are a beginner.
  • Salon Express – I haven’t used this “As Seen On TV” brand, but I’ve heard that you can buy at Sally Beauty, Rite Aid, and CVS.  Here’s a review from Vampy Varnish.
  • Winstonia – Lots of nail stamping enthusiasts prefer this stamper, which you can buy at the Winstonia Store.
  • Pueen – This company offers a super squishy stamper in addition to the regular stamper.  You can buy these sets on Amazon.com or from the Pueen website.
  • XL Stamper – made from soft silicon, this stamper allows for a more comfortable stamping experience especially if you’re stamping nails with a deep C-curve.  Here’s a review from The Nail Polish Project, and you can buy it at Ninja Polish.
  • Messy Mansion – This company has rectangular stampers in a couple different colors (so that you can see a contrasting color of polish on the stamp in order to line it up on your nail), in addition to the traditional round stampers.

Stamping polish:

You can use regular polish for stamping, with varying degrees of success based on the brand and viscosity of the polish.  If you want to buy special stamping polish to ensure success, here are some brands and reviews:

  • Konad Special Stamping Polish – these are worth it, especially for beginners. I own black and white, but there are many different colors available and in a couple different sizes, as well. I bought mine on Amazon.com, but you can also get them from Konad or WowSoCool.com.
  • Born Pretty Nail Art Stamping Polish – I haven’t tried this brand myself.  It is available for purchase at the Born Pretty Store, of course.

Note that I’ve only listed two brands here because that’s all I know of, as I typically use regular nail polish (RNP).    Just remember that you’ll have to work faster when stamping with RNP, as these are less viscous polishes than the special stamping polishes and therefore dry faster.  Here are the kinds of RNP that work the best:

  • metallics
  • Old, thick RNP
  • chromes
  • special nail art polishes (the kind that come with the skinny brush in the bottle)

Tips:

If you have wide and long nails it will often be necessary to “double stamp”.  See an example of how that’s done at My Simple Little Pleasures.

Use a credit card instead of a scraper. Many people prefer this over the scrapers with the metal edge, as using the plastic avoids metal-on-metal violence against your stamping plates.

Pinch a cotton ball with a clothespin and dip it in the acetone. Use that to clean the plate between stamps, instead of your fingers.  If you use your fingers, you may end up ruining some of the stamps you’ve already done on your nails.

Most seasoned stampers use and recommend Seche Vite regular top coat nail polish. You can apply stamps over gel polish. You just use the gel top coat rather than regular polish top coat.

Make sure your base polish is completely dry before beginning to stamp on it.  Also, allow the stamp plenty of time to dry before applying top coat.

Work as quickly as possible so that the polish isn’t drying on the stamper.

For healthy nails and skin, get plenty of vitamins A, B3, C, E, and K. I take this  Hair Skin and Nails multivitamin from Vitacost.com and moisturize with Palmer’s lotion with vitamin E multiple times daily.  Also, drink plenty of filtered water!

Advanced stamping techniques:

  • Stamp with multiple colors – Simply apply multiple colors of polish to the stamp, then scrape.  Check out these examples from The Polished Mommy and Nail Polish Wars.
  • Reverse the image by picking up the stamp on a stamper, as usual, then immediately transferring it on to another stamper by pressing the two stampers together.  Then, quickly push the image onto your nail. Here’s a pictorial from Wacky Laki.
  • Make your own nail strips or decals using a plastic bag or parchment paper – simply apply one layer of top coat (in roughly a nail shape and size for decals, or a spot slightly larger than your stamp if you’re stamping a small graphic) then stamp on top of that, and color in the stamp using a small brush and RNP.  Allow it to dry for at least a couple hours before carefully removing it with tweezers from the bag and laying it into a freshly top-coated nail. This is a very versatile method for creating nail art easily.  Check out this tutorial from The Daily Varnish.
  • Create a decal directly on the stamper – simply pick up the image on the stamper, then paint it with other colors of RNP, as desired. After that dries, top coat and allow the decal to dry for at least a couple hours before peeling it off with tweezers and applying to a freshly top-coated nail.  Find more information on this and other techniques from Lucy’s Stash.