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Have you tried one of the silicone stamping mats that have become popular recently? I feel like I’ve seen them everywhere lately, and I honestly didn’t quite see the appeal – what makes this better than working over a magazine, or using a stamper head to make decals? Well, I received one in my latest review package from Born Pretty Store, so I decided to try it out. I’ve used it to help me out in creating two manicures, so read on for pretty pictures and my thoughts on whether or not a stamping mat is worth it! The particular stamping mat I received measures 21×15 cm and comes with some black and colourless nail-like shapes marked off. It comes rolled up in a cardboard tube, which is the perfect way to store or transport it. This is the smaller size silicone mat from Born Pretty, and they have larger ones available as well. Of course, you can use nail polish remover to clean the mat off (it wouldn’t be much use if you couldn’t!). I also found that if you allowed polish to dry completely it can be peeled off or you can use tape to remove most of it. I like to do that if I don’t want to struggle with using polish remover while trying not to ruin my manicure. Or, honestly, I’ll just leave the mat with a little polish on it – I really only think it needs to be cleaned every few uses – it’s only dried polish, after all!
The bottom side of the mat has a no-slip surface, which is great because it won’t move around while you’re trying to work on it. I love that it has the black blocks because they are perfect for testing out a new stamping polish to see if it will show up over a dark base, and I have already used it for that purpose!
So now, what are the best uses of the mat? The first thing I used it for was to test out stamping combinations:I had put Zoya Hazel on my nails, and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to stamp in white, turquoise, blue, holo blue, or silver. This is the perfect way of making the decision!
I sometimes do this ‘test step’ on my right hand, then pick my favourite for my left hand and blog photos. That’s not really ideal if you want to look like a normal person in public, though. This is a great way of testing colour combinations.
Is using the mat for this better than just using a piece of paper? Well, yes and no. Yes because paper tends to soak in the polish a little so you don’t see the true finish of the polish; no because you can still do colour comparisons on paper. The mat is a little bit better, but I wouldn’t buy it just for this. This is the final manicure – from my colour test, I decided I liked the light blue, Born Pretty Store stamping polish #9, the most.I stamped using plates BP-L003 and BP-L008. Zoya Hazel has an interesting foil-like finish which I found a bit hard to photograph, but it was lovely together with the light blue.
The mat certainly did help me to make this manicure as pretty as it could be – but it wasn’t vital. The mat played a much bigger role in the second manicure I did… stamping decals! In the past, I have most often created stamping decals directly on the stamper head; I know that this is one of the most acclaimed uses of the mats, so I decided to give it a go. Of course, there is no real need to make each decal in one of the nail shapes, but it does feel convenient. You can see how they look ‘in the making’ here. I stamped using a floral image from plate BP-L029 over a clear coat and carefully used a dotting tool to colour in each flower. Once I was finished, I waited until the decals were dry and peeled them up:Because the mat isn’t completely opaque, you can look through the bottom to get an idea of how your decals are looking. You can’t see them completely clearly, though. I loved the flexibility of the mat for these – the decals were very easy to peel up and I didn’t have any breaking. I started with a base of Elevation Yeti Hugs Feel So Close on my nails and I coloured in the decals using Different Dimension Cosmic Ray, Fancy Gloss Emerald Pixie and Sky Pixie, and Darling Diva The Hot Kitsune. I carefully applied the decals and once I added a top coat, the glitter in the pixie colours absolutely came to life! Stamping decals do require some cleanup, but because they’re just made with polish, it’s not hard to do with normal polish remover. As for how the mat did with these… it was fantastic. I found it so much easier to have all of the decals on one flat surface next to one another, rather than trying to colour in each one on a different stamper head. The flexibility of the mat also made them far easier to peel off. Now, I know that I have still been perfecting the art of stamping decals and a part of it is just me becoming better at making them – but these are BY FAR my favourite stamping decals I have ever done. Maybe the mat wasn’t 100% necessary, but it definitely helped – a lot. I don’t think I will ever make a decal without it again. The decals came out so nice and smooth – I couldn’t be happier with these.
Final thoughts – I won’t be using the mat for things like catching the polish when I scrape over a stamping plate. That’s what an old magazine is for – I don’t want to have to clean up the polish from that constantly. I absolutely WILL be using the mat every time I want to make some decals!
If you’d like to try this mat out too, it’s available here, and you can use the code KGG10 to get 10% off any Born Pretty Store purchases.