30 September 2013

Introducing the Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp: Kickstart Your Nail Polish Blog!

Hi everyone! After much contemplation and procrastination, I'm launching my new series for newbie bloggers. I remember being a new blogger searching for information online about starting a nail polish blog. I found lots of great blog posts, but very few comprehensive sources that would take me through starting a blog. I envisioned this as being that comprehensive source to turn to. My plan is to archive it on this site, giving it a dedicated page, so that it will not only be useful to new bloggers today, but also those starting blogs in the future.

Curious? Read on...




What Is It?

You might want to think of this as a series of mini classes or workshops, or for those of you who have already started blogging, a refresher on some of the essentials. A new post will be published once a week on a topic, beginning with the most basics of starting a blog, such as deciding what platform to use, then moving onto more advanced topics like photographing and writing reviews.

Each post will be informative, drawing from my own experiences, the experiences of other bloggers, and my research. But there will also be at times short exercises to apply what you're reading, as well as links to other resources on the web. 


Who Is It For?

I can really see this series being useful to three groups of people:
  • Those who haven't started blogging, but want to learn how to start a blog and what is involved in a nail polish blog
  • Those who are new (or relatively new) to blogging. They may have started a blog in the last few weeks or months and need some direction
  • Those who have been blogging for awhile (more than a few weeks or months), but still feel like new bloggers, or want to redefine their blog

Even within such a small niche such as nail polish blogging, there are so many different types of bloggers. Some of these posts will appeal to all new bloggers, for example the posts on blogging platforms or taking photos. However, I've really envisioned this series as appealing to those who want to make their blogs bigger. By that I mean they want to grow the audience of their blog, reach more people, and even attract the attention of companies and indie makers who will want to work with them. There are other bloggers who don't care about things like followers and pageviews, and that's okay too, but they might not find some of the posts useful.


Why Me?

I started blogging over a year ago, first on Tumblr, then later on Blogger. I may not be the most experienced blogger, but I have learned a lot in that past year, and I've come to a point where I want to pass on that information and knowledge. I also like to do a lot of reading on the subject of blogging, so in these posts I'll be speaking both from my experiences and from the research I've done. 


What Can You Expect?

Here's a tentative list of topics that will be covered over the next several weeks. If there's something you'd like to see covered but it's not here, leave a comment.
  • Defining your niche and reasons for blogging
  • Blogging platforms
  • Taking photos
  • Editing photos
  • Providing unique content
  • Building a following
  • Writing reviews and working with brands
  • Using social media
  • Managing your workload and staying motivated

Final Thoughts

I realize this series might not be for everyone. If that's you, don't worry, I plan to do other series in the future, and hopefully they will interest you more. One of my main motivations for doing this series was that I wanted to take what I've learned through my experiences and my research and bring it together in a way that made sense for me, and ideally for others. 

If you're a new blogger, or thinking about starting a blog, I hope these posts are helpful for you. If anything here stand out, I'd love to hear about it! Your feedback is very important to me. :)

Stay tuned next week on Monday evening for our next bootcamp post!

Tell me: how many newbie bloggers are out there? How do you learn about blogging, from reading or from experience (by doing it), or both?

29 September 2013

Ethereal Dreamcatcher Nails and a Tutorial

Hi everyone! Do you ever do a nail art design where you feel you've pushed the boundaries of your skills and creativity? Something that feels like it opens new doors and possibilities in terms of what you are capable of doing? Well that's how I feel about this design. If you follow me on Instagram you've already seen a sneak peek of this, I just couldn't wait to share it!

Ethereal dreamcatcher nail art (with top coat, not matte)

I wanted to create a tutorial for the dreamcatcher nails I did earlier this month. Browsing through images of dreamcatchers online, I came across this image on deviantART. There were two aspects that really appealed to me - the sunset background and the faded look with black border. It reminded me of a photo filtered through Instagram. I wasn't sure I could replicate these aspects, but in the end it worked out better than I had hoped. :)

Ethereal dreamcatcher nail art (with top coat, not matte)

I know the tutorial is long, but it's not the kind of thing that can be explained quickly. If you just want to know what polishes I used, here they are:

  • OPI My Vampire is Buff
  • Sally Hansen Lightening (yellow)
  • Sally Hansen Firey Island (orange)
  • OPI Can't Find My Czechbook (light blue)
  • Essie Midnight Cami (midnight blue)
  • Orly Liquid Vinyl (black)
  • China Glaze Charmed, I'm Sure (dark eggplant)
  • China Glaze Goldie But Goodie (gold foil)

Ethereal dreamcatcher nail art (with matte top coat)

For this look you will also need the following:

  • A fine detail/liner brush, not a long liner brush, but something short to mid-sized in length
  • A makeup sponge
  • Nail polish thinner

Ethereal dreamcatcher nail art (with matte top coat)


Tutorial



This tutorial is very long and may seem daunting, but it essentially involves two parts - the background/border with the "worn" look, and the dreamcatchers.

Two techniques must be explained first that are essential to this design:

Drybrush: like the name suggests, a drybrush technique involves having very minimal paint/polish on your brush and painting very lightly so that you have a line that is broken, not solid or complete.

Scumbling: Very similar to drybrush, you start with very little paint/polish on your brush, and you lightly drag it across a surface. It's best done on a surface with a light texture because you will end up leaving polish only on the raised surfaces. This creates a film of colour with the colours underneath peeking through.

Step #1: Start with your base. Paint your nails with a white or a light neutral base. Here I'm using OPI My Vampire is Buff. You do not need to paint your nails to full coverage - I'm using 2 coats, where I would need 3-4 for full coverage.

Step #1

Step #2: Start your "sunset" gradient. Choose 3-4 polishes in the orange-red-violet-blue colour range. Here I'm using Sally Hansen Lightening (yellow), Sally Hansen Firey Island (orange), OPI Can't Find My Czechbook (light blue), and Essie Midnight Cami (dark blue). Paint the polishes directly on your makeup sponge.

Step #2

Step #3: Finish your gradient. To do the gradient, gently press the makeup sponge on your nail. Move it lightly up and down to make a good gradient. Do not worry about getting a smooth gradient. You will need to do approximately 2 passes on each nail, adding more polish to the sponge as necessary. Do not worry about fully covering your nail - in fact you want to have some of the base colour (the white or light neutral) peeking through.

Step #3

Step #4: Tone it down. Take some black polish and dilute with nail polish thinner. Using a makeup sponge dab some of the thinned polish on your nails, very gently. This will tone down the colours and add a bit of grunge effect.

Step #4

Step #4

Step #5: Add your black border. Use black polish diluted with nail polish thinner, and work slowly, building up the dark areas towards the edge. To make it look faded start with very thinned polish, and use a drybrush and scumbling technique to work out from the edge. Then use less thinner for the polish used around the edges. In other words work from light to dark. Finish by cleaning up around your nails.

Step #5

Step #5

Step #6: Start your dreamcatchers. Using a darker polish - but not a black polish - lightly paint your design using a fine liner brush. Here I'm using China Glaze Charmed, I'm Sure diluted with some nail polish thinner so that it is more fluid and not so dark. You want to start out with lighter lines in case you make any mistakes.

Step #6

Step #7: Darken your lines where necessary. I darkened the frame and the strings of the dreamcatcher using a black polish and Charmed, I'm Sure.

Step #7

Step #8: Work on your feathers. Remember my feathers are just sketched out lightly using a dark purple that I've added thinner to. I then added some strokes of OPI Can't Find My Czechbook - a light blue that is one or two shades lighter than the purple. After that, I added one or two strokes of the darker purple around the edges. This creates a feather that has some light and dark areas, giving it a whispy look.

Step #8

Step #9: Add your gold highlights. Using China Glaze Goldie But Goodie (a gold foil) I added a few strokes on the feathers and strings to create highlights.

Step #9

Step #10: Whiten the background. The last step is to lighten the background which helps to heighten that worn "Instagram filter" look. To do that, take a lighter polish, I'm using OPI My Vampire is Buff, and using only a bare minimum of polish on your brush, scumble it on the surface. Basically you're using a very, very light touch and dragging your brush across the surface. Because the surface is rough (from the gradient) it catches only the raised surface. Make sure to dab any excess polish on a paper towel first, and if your polish is very opaque, thin it with nail polish thinner.

Step #10

Step #11: Finish with top coat and pat yourself on the back. I finished with KBShimmer Clearly On Top, which is excellent and doesn't smear nail art (wait 10-15 minutes after finishing your design). Then I mattified them with Essie Matte About You.

Ethereal dreamcatcher nail art (with matte top coat)

I hope my tutorial makes sense. If there's anything that is not clear or needs to be explained more, please let me know!

What do you think of this? Is this something you'd like to try?

Girly Bits Elephant Shoe and OVbunEn, Swatches and Review!

Hi everyone! It's Sunday morning here, and not my usual posting time, but I wanted to show you this new duo by Girly Bits. Elephant Shoe and OVbunEN were released along with the Fall Season Premiere collection but are separate. They are great in that they go perfectly together but are versatile enough to be paired with other polishes as well. You can buy these polishes individually or as a duo from the Girly Bits website.

Girly Bits Elephant Shoe and OVbunEN

According to the Girly Bits website both shades were inspired by expecting friends, and they certainly have a springtime/baby shower vibe. Although they don't go with the dark vampy colours and shimmers we've been seeing this fall, I love muted pastels and greys so you won't see me complaining! ;)

Elephant Shoe is a mid-tone neutral grey creme. The application was perfect and it was completely self-leveling. This was 3 coats. It's a nice neutral colour for nail art, and I've already used it several times, for example in my "dusk blue skittlette" from last week. It's also a great base for glitter polishes and would go well with a variety of colours.

Girly Bits Elephant Shoe

Girly Bits Elephant Shoe

OVbunEN is a clear-based glitter topper with matte yellow, pink, baby blue, and periwinkle glitter in hexes, diamonds, and circles. There's also tiny holo glitter that gives shimmery effect, and iridescent bars that you don't see until the light hits them. I have quite a few pastel glitter toppers but this one is completely unique, I love it! The application was excellent and I had no trouble getting enough glitter out or spreading it evenly on the nail. I used 1 coat over Elephant Shoe in the first photo, and Julep Bunny in the second and third.

Girly Bits OVbunEN (over Elephant Shoe)

Girly Bits OVbunEN (over Julep Bunny)

Girly Bits OVbunEN (over Julep Bunny)

What do you think of this duo? Would you wear them in the fall or are you a seasonal colours person?

Girly Bits polishes are available from their website, there you'll also find a list of distributors for other places to buy Girly Bits. Follow Girly Bits Cosmetics on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and new releases.

*Products in this post provided for review, all opinions are my own. See my disclosure policy for more detail.*

28 September 2013

31 Day Challenge: Day Twenty-Three, Inspired By A Movie: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Hi everyone! It looks like both Lindsey and I are late again on this challenge. Suffice it to say that our posting schedule is now Tuesday or Wednesday and Friday or Saturday. I feel like we've come so far on this challenge that I'm actually starting to feel sad that it will soon be over - then I realize we have another month because of our two day a week schedule!

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind inspired nail art

About this design: I had two criteria for the movie for today's challenge: first, it had to be something that I could easily translate to nail art. Many movies have amazing imagery and effects, but much of it is too difficult to make into nail art. And second, it had to be available on Netflix, because I actually wanted to see the movie while I was doing my nails.

I had seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind several years ago, and for some reason it popped into my mind. If you are familiar with the movie, then you will know I took the design from the cover image. My thumb nail is an abstract representation of Clementine's hair, which changes colours throughout the movie, from green, to red, to orange, to blue. It's a bit disjointed from the rest of the design, but I felt it needed something else.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind inspired nail art

To get this look: I started with a base of OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls. Using a tiny piece of makeup sponge I dabbed on a mixture of blues and greys until I had a nice background that went from dark to light. For that step I used Misa Blueberry Blast (pale blue), Girly Bits Elephant Shoe (grey creme), My Boyfriend Scales Walls (white), and Essie Smooth Sailing (mid-value greyish blue). My index and pinky fingers were topped with China Glaze Fairy Dust.

Thumb design inspired by Clementine's hair

I painted the ice break with white polish and Smooth Sailing to define it. The figures were painted freehand with black polish thinned with nail polish thinner. For the colours on the thumb I used Nubar Resort Yellow, Forbidden Fruit (orange), On The Radar (red), My New Obsession, and Into the Wild (green). The yellow and orange I mixed together to make a brighter orange, the other colours I used straight.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind inspired nail art

Overall, I like how it turned out, despite the more literal representation. However, if I were to do it again, I'd take out the figures and make it much more abstract dealing with the idea of fractured memories. After watching the film again, that was one of the themes that really stood out for me.

What do you think of this? How would you do the "inspired by a movie" prompt?

---

26 September 2013

Different Dimension, Silenced the Lambs - Halloween 2013 Collection

Hi everyone! Are you ready for some new Different Dimension polishes!? Ever since I saw the first swatches online of the Different Dimension Fall and Halloween collections, I've been really excited about these polishes. So you can imagine how giddy I was to open up my blogger package from Missi, the maker, and see these in person. If you've passed over these new collections, I encourage you to take a second look. I have the Halloween collection for you tonight, and I hope to have the Fall 2013 collection up next week.

Different Dimension, Silenced the Lambs - Halloween 2013 Collection

As you may guess from the title, the Halloween collection is inspired by the film Silence of the Lambs. Fun fact: Silence of the Lambs was originally released on Valentine's Day (creepy!) and nowhere near Halloween. :)

Good Evening Clarice is a pale mint linear holo polish that also glows in the dark. The holo is subtle but still noticeable and adds a nice effect to the polish - in most lights it will look shimmery. Formula-wise it goes on very smooth and evenly, however, I found even after three coats I still had some patches where the coverage was less than I hoped.

Different Dimension Good Evening Clarice

Different Dimension Good Evening Clarice

Different Dimension Good Evening Clarice

As for the glow-in-the-dark properties, the instructions state that you can layer this over white for a stronger effect, however, I found it was pretty strong on its own. It's stronger if you charge it first, but you only need to do so for about 30 seconds.

Different Dimension Good Evening Clarice

Have The Lambs Stopped Screaming? is a clear-based glitter topper with a holographic shimmer, and a mixture of black, white, orange, gold and yellow glitter in stars, circles, squares and hexes. Missi describes this as looking like a "deconstructed monarch butterfly" and I rather like that description. The application was great and there was no problem getting out the larger glitters. This was 2 coats over Girly Bits Giggity Giggity Goo.

Different Dimension Have The Lambs Stopped Screaming?

Different Dimension Have The Lambs Stopped Screaming?

Different Dimension Have The Lambs Stopped Screaming?

I Ate His Liver With Some Fava Beans And a Nice Chianti (longest polish name ever!) is another glitter topper. This one is also clear-based with green, chartreuse, purple, lavender, pink, gold and black glitter in hexes, circles and stars. I love the colours on this one, and the application was great. This was 1 coat over Essie Full Steam Ahead, but I've also seen it paired with Good Evening Clarice and I really love that combination.

Different Dimension I Ate His Liver With Some Fava Beans And A Nice Chianti

Different Dimension I Ate His Liver With Some Fava Beans And A Nice Chianti

It Rubs The Lotion On Its Skin is a black jelly-based polish with gold and orange microglitter. This is described as a texture polish, but I didn't experience any texture with this, so I wore it as a regular polish with top coat. While it looks a bit dull in the lightbox photos, it really comes alive in regular light, and especially direct light (the sun would have the same effect). The application was great - it goes on smooth and evenly, and has a perfect consistency. This was 2 coats.

Different Dimension It Rubs The Lotion On Its Skin

Different Dimension It Rubs The Lotion On Its Skin

Different Dimension It Rubs The Lotion On Its Skin

I've mentioned this before, but I'm not really one for Halloween polishes. Yet, these make me change my mind. Have The Lambs... is so shimmery and Good Evening Clarice is such a unique colour and polish. The other ones are also great. Overall, I think this is a very strong collection.

What do you think of these? Are you in the mood for Halloween polishes yet?

Different Dimension is available on Etsy, and through Llarowe, Mei Mei's Signatures, Edgy Polish, and Ledoux Nuage. Follow Different Dimensions on Facebook and Instagram (@missibarry) to keep up with updates.

*Products provided for review, all opinions are my own. See my disclosure policy for more details.*

25 September 2013

31 Day Challenge: Day Twenty-Two, Inspired By A Song: Yesterday

Hi everyone! I just wanted to thank everyone for the kind words yesterday regarding my piCture pOlish Blog Fest award. It really means a lot to me. I've been very bad about not responding to comments, but I hope to catch up in the next day or two.

Today's challenge was another one I struggled with. The prompt asks you to do nail art that is inspired by a song. I have seen people do more literal representations of songs, and others do interpretations that are broader and only take the song as a starting point. I would think this design falls into the latter category.

31 Day Challenge: Inspired By A Song

About this design: I took the Beatles' song "Yesterday" as my inspiration. Specifically I was interested in the idea of an end to a love affair. The idea is that love can be described as "la vie en rose" which is a French expression meaning "life through rose-coloured glasses." The grey represents the shadow that encroaches on life after love ends. I designed it so that it would be read from left to right.

31 Day Challenge: Inspired By A Song

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday
Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be
There's a shadow hanging over me
Oh, yesterday came suddenly
Why she had to go I don't know she wouldn't say
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday...

31 Day Challenge: Inspired By A Song

To get this look: My first step was to sketch the fracture, then I painted my nails with the base colours, Misa Blueberry Blast and Girly Bits Elephant Shoe (for the grey), being very careful when I got near the fracture. I painted the grey stripes with Elephant Shoe, Orly Liquid Vinyl (black), and Sally Hansen White On, mixing them to get the shades of grey I wanted. The roses were painted with Misa Lovely Lychee, Ripe Rashberry and Lime Love. I then repainted the fracture line.

31 Day Challenge: Inspired By A Song

I'm not sure if this really represents the song, but as I said, it was inspired by it, so technically that counts. Regardless, I really like this design and love how it looks on the nails.

What do you think of this? What song would you chose for this prompt?

---

24 September 2013

Girly Bits Fall Season Premiere Collection: Part One, Bones

Hi everyone! Before I get into some awesome polishes, I have a piece of good news. Some of you may have already heard, but I found out today that I won the third and final piCture pOlish Blog Fest Award! You may remember that back at the end of July I participated in the piCture pOlish Blog Fest, and my design was selected by other bloggers who participated. So I just wanted to thank everyone for their support and thanks to the bloggers who voted for me! I'll be working with piCture pOlish in the new year to design a collaboration shade! Isn't that amazing?! I hope I can come up with something awesome. :D

Girly Bits Fall Season Premiere Collection: Bones

But I want to get back to these new Girly Bits polishes, because they are truly worth it. Last week I received the new Fall Season Premiere collection to swatch and review, and oh my, this is truly one of my favourite Girly Bits collections so far...and there's been some great ones in the past. The collection is inspired by three TV shows - Bones, Saturday Night Live, and Family Guy - and coincides with the season premieres for each.

I've decided to split the polishes into three posts - posting the polishes for each show separately. So we'll be starting with my favourite show of the bunch, in fact one of my favourite shows, period.

Dancing Phalanges is a raspberry jelly with a stunning pink glass fleck shimmer. I was pleasantly surprised when I wore this because it's slightly lighter and more vibrant on the nail than in the bottle. I used three coats, and it went on very smooth and effortlessly.


Note: This is my first time embedding videos in my blog post. Let me know if there's any problems watching them!

Girly Bits Dancing Phalanges

Girly Bits Dancing Phalanges

Girly Bits Dancing Phalanges

Gravedigger is the perfect Halloween polish without being your typical black and orange scheme. It's a blackened plum jelly with orange, purple, green and fuschia glitter in hexes, squares and circles. It also has sheer iridescent glitter that you only see when the light hits it. The formula was excellent and it went on very smooth and evenly. This was 3 coats. And the best part? You can enjoy this polish without fears of being buried alive! :D



Girly Bits Gravedigger

Girly Bits Gravedigger

King of the Lab instantly reminded me of the fun/foolish/outrageous antics of Jack Hodgins. It's an orange jelly with a glass fleck shimmer. There is a bit of visible nail line but otherwise there's no application issues - it went on perfectly like the others. This was 3 coats.



Girly Bits King of the Lab

Girly Bits King of the Lab

Girly Bits King of the Lab

What do you think of these? Any Bones fans out there?!

Girly Bits polishes are available from their website, there you'll also find a list of distributors for other places to buy Girly Bits. Follow Girly Bits Cosmetics on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and new releases.

*Products in this post provided for review, all opinions are my own. See my disclosure policy for more detail.*
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