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DIY Nail Decals Tutorial

posted in: Nails
April 7, 2015

I always marvel at people who rock intricate designs on their nails. How do they do it? Why aren’t my hands as steady as theirs? My adventures in nail wraps haven’t been all that successful… the material never looks as natural as I want it to! So when Nidia of Lit from Within first told me about how she makes DIY nail decals using her stamping plate, I commissioned her to come teach us all here today.

DIY Nail Decals Tutorial | Slashed Beauty


  • Stamping Tool
  • Scraper (I like to use an old credit card)
  • Stamping plate
  • Stamping polishes – there are some regular polishes that stamp well, or you can invest in special polishes designed for stamping. A general rule: the thicker the better.
  • Tape for cleaning the stamping head.  I like using a lint roller.

FYI: A brand-new stamping head may need to be primed, which can usually be done gently with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, or sometimes a little bit of acetone, or a nail buffer.  You just want to remove the shiny surface from the stamper.


  1. Start by painting your nails a base color. I’m using one of Milani’s new Nail Foils in Capri.  I like putting top coat over the base color— it makes it easier to fix little mistakes without having to redo the whole nail.  You’ll want your base color to be completely dry before stamping over it.
  2. Apply some polish to the stamping plate.  You’ll have to experiment with how much polish you’ll need based on the polish and the stamp. With most polishes, it’s better to use more than not enough.
  3. Using gentle pressure and a 45-degree angle, move the scraper over the polish.  You may need to adjust the angle and the direction of the swipe, depending on the stamp.
  4. Quickly, before the polish dries, push the stamper onto the plate.  Like a clutch in a stick shift, you’ll have to get a feel for how much pressure to apply, and whether you like to roll the stamper or push.
  5. Paint on the stamper, directly over the stamped polish.  You can use plain topcoat, as I’ve done here, to make a clear decal, or, you can decorate the stamp with more polish, and then apply topcoat over the entire design.  When the decal is dry, it will easily lift off the stamper.
  6. Apply a thin layer of topcoat to your nail, and then stick your decal on.
  7. Use a clean up brush or Q-tip dipped in acetone to remove the excess polish from the skin, and apply topcoat to protect your design.

You’ll want to clean your stamping plate with acetone after each stamp or so.  Use tape or a lint roller to clean your stamp after each application – too much acetone on the stamper can damage it.

Like any kind of nail art, there is a little practice involved, and some trial and error to figure out what polishes and tools you like.

The least expensive places to get stamping equipment seems to be from China (eBay is a good place to look). Some regular polishes can be used for stamping— Sally Hansen Insta-Dri polishes are generally good for stamping, and metallics like Essie No Place Like Chrome or Maybelline Bold Gold work really well, too.

Find more of Nidia on Lit from Within

2 Responses

  1. Miki Nyckel
    | Reply

    Very neat!!

    • Nidia Doherty
      | Reply

      Thank you!

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