Thursday, 11 February 2016

How to Store Stamping Decals

Press  Sample
Hey there!  Today I have a very different type of post for me....there's not a single nail photo in this entire post!  A few weeks ago Brittany from UberChic Beauty asked some of us if we had time to test how long stamping decals could be stored.  The scientist in me (because I really am a scientist by day) couldn't resist this test so I immediately jotted down the variables I wanted to test (clear coat, storage choice, paint vs polish) and the days I would test them on.  The following day, I made all the 100 decals that you see here!   The results mostly came down to a comparison of the two different clear coats I tested but it did teach me a few things about how I can store decals in the future.  I hadn't tried storing decals since getting the Uber Mat but now I know I can.  It just so happens that I made a few extra decals this week and then gave them to my sister a few days later and they applied great.  Follow the jump to read a whole bunch of words about the results of my two week test.  And find the link to an Instagram giveaway for a $25 gift certificate to UberChic Beauty!  

To start with, these are the two clear coats I tested.  I used to use Sally Hansen Hard As Nails exclusively after reading a tip on Facebook but, since getting the Uber Mat, I've switched to Wet n Wild Clear Nail Protector (after another Facebook tip) and haven't looked back.  But since this is a proper experiment I included both in this test.  I've never used a quick dry top coat because I've read they get far too stiff so, if you're willing to wait about 30 minutes before stamping your decal, I recommend avoiding quick dry's.  

For my storage I tried the following methods:

1.  On the Uber Mat (uncovered)
2.  On the Uber Mat (covered with Glad Press n Seal - silly choice since it just stuck to my decals)
3.  Inside of a plastic page protector (with one edge cut so it opens easily)
4.  In disposable plastic containers (with the lids on tightly)
5.  In sealable plastic bags

I made an equal number of decals filled with polish (Sally Hansen Presto Pink) and acrylic paint so I could see if that made any difference.  

I kept all decals in the same area of the same room (around 24 degrees Celsius).  Keep in mind, where I live has a fairly dry climate so that may or may not make a difference.  

After approximately one hour, I removed a decal from the Uber Mat.  You can see that both products resulted in a flexible decal.  The Wet n Wild was significantly more flexible though that could be due to the Wet n Wild being applied to the Uber Mat after the Sally Hansen so it could've been less dry.  

Over the course of the next two weeks, this is how I tested the decals.  After 1, 3, 5, 7, 10 and 14 days I removed one of each decal from the designated storage and tested whether or not it would fold over a nail art brush without cracking.  This curve is presumable more severe than any nail's C-curve so I thought this was a good way to test flexibility.  After this test, I also tried folding the decals in half to see if that would break them.  Sometimes I didn't even get that far, as you can see in the second photo...


*WINNER - Wet n Wild Page Protector*

I was tempted to make crazy big tables to explain all my results simply to justify the time I put into this experiment.  But I'll spare you the boring details and just summarize.  

Product - Wet n Wild Clear Coat Protectant was the clear winner here (and pretty much the only variable that makes a difference in the results).  Between 3-7 days, I stopped testing all but one of the Sally Hansen methods of storage because the decals were far too brittle to be useful.  Sally Hansen Hard as Nails was okay if using the decals within a day but by day 3 they were stiff and I wouldn't have been willing to use them.  

Storage - While product choice definitely made the bigger difference, there was some difference in storage results.  

Uber Mat:  The decals that were left to sit on the mat after being painted became the most difficult to use.  The edges become brittle so it is difficult to remove them from the mat without damaging them.  That isn't surprising since the air is able to dry them out continuously.  I already mentioned that I made a silly choice in how I covered the mat decals so maybe plain plastic wrap would alleviate this a little.  BUT this also takes up your mat and we want to be able to use it regularly, right?   
Wet n Wild - cracking after 7-10 days
Sally Hansen  - cracking after 3 days

Page Protector:  Though I've never tried storing decals in between the pages of a sheet protector, this ended up being my favourite method.  Unfortunately it was an after thought so I only had enough for one of each type of decal so I had to keep testing the same decal.  The page protector seemed to keep them the most flexible while taking up next to no space since it's completely flat.  The only drawback was that the decal could stick to either side and might stick more than you expect so be careful when removing them. 
*Edit* After posting this in a couple of Facebook groups, the genius idea was brought up that using wax paper in the page protector will stop it from sticking.  There's also claims that Wet n Wild decals stored in page protectors can last months without losing their pliability!  
Wet n Wild - never cracked
Sally Hansen - cracking at 10 days but dry and fragile by day 3.  

Plastic Containers: The benefit of this method is that your decals are safe.  Since the containers are solid, there's no risk of your decals accidentally getting broken.  However I found that the decals got a bit thin and wrinkled sitting in the containers.  It was as though the decals were taking on the shape of the container so if your container of choice has a flat bottom, this could be okay.  
Wet n Wild - cracking after 10 days or never cracked.  
Sally Hansen - cracking after 7-10 days

Plastic Bags:   This method was okay but not the best.  It takes up little space but the results weren't quite as good as the plastic containers or the page protector.  Decals became thin with crumbly edges at around 10 days.

Wet n Wild - would bend around brush but cracked in half at day 10.
Sally Hansen - brittle at day 5 but could still bend around brush but broke in half when tested.  

Fill type - In the battle of paint vs polish, there really wasn't a winner.  Sometimes the paint would be the one to crack earlier, sometimes the polish so I wouldn't consider this variable in your decal choice.  This one is all about your personal preference.  

My final photo is a Wet n Wild decal after 14 days in the page protector.  The edges are a bit ratty after being handled so many times but it's perfectly flexible.  

Giveaway details

Since I volunteered to do this test, Brittany was kind enough to offer me a $25 gift certificate that I've decided to pass onto my Instagram followers.  It's a "follow and repost" giveaway that is open until a week from today.  You can find the Instagram post here.  

Thanks for sticking around!  Possibly the biggest thing I learned from this experiment is that I don't like not having my Uber Mat being available to me.  I couldn't wait until this was done so that I could give it a good wipe with acetone and start using it normally again!  

'Til next time...


  1. Thank you SO much for doing this. As a scientist who also loves nail art, this was perfect.

  2. The thorough explanation of your test procedure were fantastic! I love your analytical approach. I just ordered some wet n wild and some page protectors.

  3. Thank u so much for making this it’s incredibly helpful!