Here's a fun fact about me: I'm obsessed with doing my nails. Not in a fearing-broken-nails, never-get-dirty kind of way. Obviously. That's just not compatible with equestrian life as a whole. But I do own a lot of nail polish, and a lot of nail art stuff, and I'm good enough at it that it doesn't make sense to pay for manicures. I love stamps, glitters, water decals, gradients, stones, the works. But especially stamps. I don't have a steady enough hand to do a lot of ambidextrous nail art, so stamps are my favorite. (Fair warning, this is going to be picture-heavy; scroll to the bottom to see my #ponymani.)
So, when I saw that Spiced Equestrian had horse-themed nail stamping plates, I obviously wanted them. I waited a while but finally bit the bullet last weekend at 1 AM. That's when good purchasing decisions are made, right? It was the addition of several new patterns that really put me over the edge. I bought the new plates from Spiced Equestrian, plus a pink glass nail file, and the original kit from The Pony Habit. I already have my own stamping kit, but I really wanted the plates that came with it, which weren't sold separately. Shipping from Canada took about a week, which I thought was pretty good.
Unopened kit and glass file.
Here's what the kit contained: three original plates, stamper, scraper, and instructions. I know how to stamp, so I didn't use them, but someone new would definitely find the instructions helpful. They even have a little troubleshooting guide in the back.
According to a handwritten note, I was one of the first to get the new set. From what I can tell, that means the stamper, which was clear, and matching plastic scraper, are different, since the old one was purple. For comparison, this image is of my Konad set on the left vs. SpicedEq on the right.
Clearly, my Konad is well-loved, and you can see that it's not see-though. I definitely was hype to see a clear stamper, since lining up intricate patterns can be a pain in the ass without being able to see. The scraper for Konad is metal, which can scratch plates, so I was also excited to try a plastic one.
The stickers were not inside the kit itself, and neither was the welcome card or images, but they were nice extras. I did try to take pictures with the cards as my backdrop when doing nails, but that didn't last very long.
Stickers and included paperwork.
All of the different stickers, plus a nice note from SpicedEq.
The plates from the original kit. Tricky to see, but there are bits, jumps, and horseshoes on the right-hand one.
My initial impression was good. I'm a sucker for a handwritten note, and the packaging is neat and cute. It'll be easy to store all my stamping gear (sans plates, since they'll live with my collection) in the little case. When I opened the nail file, I noticed that it's not a true crystal file. For non-nail people, that means the glass isn't engraved to make the rough surface; instead, it has a coating on top. There's nothing particularly bad about that, but the coating will wear off over time, whereas an engraved file won't. But, for less than $3, I wasn't particularly surprised or upset.
When I peeled the coatings off of the plates themselves, I had a bit of trouble. They didn't come off easily, which is no big deal, but I managed to slice my finger open on the edge of one of them.
I've never had that problem with plates before, and I realized after looking at them, that the SpicedEq plates don't have a backer on them. They're just a metal plate. For comparison, my Winstonia plates have cardboard on the back. I never knew why until I was dripping blood onto my white table.
SpicedEq on the left, Winstonia on the right, tissue in my hand sopping up blood..
That said, I don't think I'll have a problem again. I think I cut myself because I was gripping the plates pretty hard to get the blue coating off. When you stamp, you set them on the table, so there's no reason to be death-gripping theses suckers anymore.
Now, to the actual stamping of my nails. I picked pink as a base color, of course. I momentarily entertained hunter green or navy, but decided to do me. I'm no hunter princess, let's be real. It was in stamping mode that I realized just how much I adore the clear stamper. Being able to see what I was picking up and putting down on the nail was awesome, and I managed to do five perfectly-aligned snaffle-print nails. There was a bit of a learning curve at first, though, since I think the engraving on these plates is a little shallower than other brands. All of the design wasn't transferring to the stamper, which was very noticeable on the larger horsehead design. Once I realized I had to work faster because my polish was drying in parts before I picked it up, I was fine. This is my second attempt, since the first was pretty bad and I ended up starting the nail over. It's not perfect, but I definitely had the hang of it.
Two days and a trail run later, so ignore the chips.
After I sped the hell up, things went swimmingly. And speed is easier with a clear stamper, since you can actually see what you're doing instead of guessing. However, the plastic scraper was a no from me. It didn't scratch at all, like I thought, but the plastic was a little too flexible. When I was scraping extra polish off the plate, the plastic bent down into the engraving and got nicked/warped. It wasn't pulling off excess polish in a clean sweep, which I needed in order to work fast enough. Thus, I went back to the metal Konad one I have. I imagine a credit card would work and not scratch, but I have yet to try that.
I cleaned the plates with non-acetone remover, since acetone can cloud them. SpicedEq actually includes a warning about it clouding the stamper, too, so I used the non-acetone remover there. Unlike my Konad stamper, though, the clear one isn't rubber. It's more of a jelly, and my cotton ball left some lint, so I used a lint roller to lift off the leftover designs between nails. When I was done, I put a clear topcoat on and used pure acetone on a tiny brush to clean up the edges of my nails and make sure they were perfect. Acetone is hella drying, though, so coconut oil or lotion afterwards is a must.
Crystal clear stamper, designs on the lint roller.
Overall, I'm extremely happy with my purchase. I can already see myself bringing it to the barn and doing manicures on Fridays when we have drinks after riding. For $5.53 per individual plate, $2.54 for the glass file, and $25.49 for the kit (stamper, scraper, and three plates), I feel like I definitely got my money's worth. Nobody else makes equestrian nail plates, and SpicedEq even has more! There's also western, southwestern/Native American, geometric, unicorn/fantasy, and breed logos. The quality is on par with the price and the results are unique and fun as hell. SpicedEq is onto something here. Maybe Manicure Monday is about to become an official thing on the blog. You're welcome in advance.