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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Weekend Bits and Bobs: February 20 - Blogging Life Q and A


Hi guys! I don't have a lot this week. Just been working, mostly. But today I was swatching a new collection so I thought I'd show you a little bit about how I do that. I've had several questions over the years and since my "set-up" is really not professional at all, I just usually skip over those or just answer which camera I use or something easy.

Because I am currently using my "office" - that isn't set up for blogging yet - for a mini shipping department, I'm still blogging from my kitchen island. I told you is was so NOT professional!

Here are the most common answers to questions I get a lot:

I use the $1 notebooks from Walmart to write notes about the collection and which photos I need to edit out of the jillion I took.

I use the blue Equate "nourishing" remover from Walmart because I go through so much of it and it's not hard on my nails. It doesn't have that added scent that makes me so sick like the Target one, the Sally one or Zoya Remove +. I have nothing against them other than the scents give me either a terrible headache, nausea or both.

I use ONYX 100% pure acetone for nail art clean up and for wiping my stamping plates on the rare occasions when I try. I pour it in an old remover cap and use a paper towel and Elf Concealer brush for cleanup for nail art. It's rare that I need clean up for swatching but I generally just use the "nourishing" one for that, if necessary. I use the Swisspers Cotton Rounds - buy them in the 3-pack at Walmart.

Favorite matte top coat. 100% no question about it Zoya Matte Velvet. It even beats my former go-to Butter London. Favorite "rubber finish" matte is the Girly Bits one. I did just get the brand new KBShimmer one to try though! I'll let you know how that one is.

Favorite latex. Girly Bits Border Patrol. I've tried several, including the bulk stuff from Sally and I'd gladly pay for the Girly Bits one. It has a brush just like nail polish, it goes on easily, dries quickly, peels off easily and has no smell! Well, I don't detect a smell and I'm pretty sensitive to that. Love it.

Favorite Base Coat. That's easy. None. I don't use a base coat ever. I tried for years - all different kinds. They just hate me. My body chemistry stages a revolt. They seems to suck in the pigments and make everything stain (which is opposite of what you'd expect) and they make my polish that can go a week with no chips chip within an hour. I'm just weird.

Favorite Top Coat. I'm not sure how well I can answer this one. I use a lot of different ones depending on what I'm doing, how long I'll be wearing it, how quickly I need it to dry, what finish I'm using it over, which one is closest to me at the time so I don't have to get up.

  • For insane super shiny: Alter Ego Top Coat
  • For long wear like vacation: CbL PDQ or Faby - they don't dry as fast as some others but they wear like iron on me
  • For swatching a lot: Pure Ice Girl on the Run. It's really good and it's cheap and easily accessible and it's equally good over regular finishes or glitters
  • For heavy duty glitter: Girly Bits Glitter Glaze
  • For regular daily use for most anything: KBShimmer Clearly on Top
  • For nail art: HK Girl because it doesn't smear

Favorite white and black for nail art base or glitter base: I love KBShimmer Eclipse and Eyes White Open. They don't get thick halfway through the bottle like some do and they can both be one-coaters. If I'm out or want something I can go grab quickly, I use Wet n Wild Black Creme and Salon Perfect Sugar Cube - both cheap drugstore ones, easily accessible. But they both tend to get thick halfway through the bottles. I also love CbL Vincent for just a great pure black creme. Mostly though white really gives me lobster hands so when I can get away with it based on the nail art going on top, I'll use OPI My Vampire is Buff as my "light/neutral" base. It's a 2 coater though and I'm impatient. LOL!

Favorite Cuticle Product. Well I've said it a lot before but I'll say it again. I'm lazy. However, when I DO use anything I use the KBShimmer lotions and Northern Star rollerball cuticle oil in the cinnamon scent. I think she only made that as an exclusive for another polish brand's shop but I have two of them. I hope when I run out she has decided to carry that scent in her shop! It smells like red hots! I also like the Paint Box Polish cuticle oil pens. Basically, as infrequently as I use those type of products, I like anything that smells good and doesn't give me a headache. The Girly Bits Frazzle Fixers are good as well in the polish bottle with the polish brush/applicator. 

When I'm not swatching or wear testing what do I usually have on my tips? That's a pretty easy question too. About 10% of the time there are variables like I get a weird urge to wear something "different" or I've chopped my nails really short and tend to pull to the vampy reds or something like Starry Starry Night or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. But about 90% of the time I have on one of about 5 or 6 polishes.

  • A England Sleeping Palace
  • CbL 'Shroom with a View
  • OPI Can You Dig It
  • Nails Inc. Devonshire Row
  • A England Let Me In
  • Kiko Grey 381

LOL 3 cremes and 3 "metalure" subtle holos. I'm so predictable.

What are must-haves when swatching? A pot of coffee. The TV on either HGTV or BBCA in the background. And for everyone to LEAVE ME ALONE! That last one is pretty easy since it's just me and the dogs. But sometimes I want to throw my phone across the room lol!

I'm not a photographer. I've never made any bones about that. I also don't have or know how to use Photoshop. I bought it and installed it on the old, now defunct PC and never learned it. But my job isn't photography. Actually, blogging isn't my "job" either. I do it because I love it and I have fun with it. I started swatching polish because back then there were like what? Ten bloggers? And only half of them had accurate photos of the polishes and they can't have EVERY polish. So my goal was never to be a photographer or to take "glamour shots" - it was to show people what the polishes look like on ME, on my skin tone, in various lighting. Would I love to have uniform hand poses? SURE! I've tried and I just can't seem to marry the two. There are so many nail bloggers now though that there's someone for everyone. There are a few bad apples, as in anything, but as a whole, I have some really great blogger friends and I follow so many of them.

Instagram. Yeah, I suck at IG. Ain't even gonna lie. I just have a hard time 1) remembering to use it and 2) getting all the info in there when I do. When I blog, I can easily tell you how many coats, if it was self-leveling, if the formula was patchy or if the 2nd coat gives you balding, if the glitters had to be fished out, what I layered it over, how long it lasted if I'm wear-testing, whether it leans warmer than my photos, etc. Just a myriad of information that I want when I'm looking to buy - or not buy. I can't do that on IG. Plus, how do you even FIND those swatches again? I have people looking at my blog 4 years after a Chanel I swatched to see if they want it before it's DCd. You can't do that on IG - it just seems so temporary. And yes, I'm fully aware that may be my age talking. I do follow a lot of IG swatchers though, don't get me wrong. And I envy those freakishly talented people who post the little nail art videos on IG. GAH! I just don't have that ability. Or the patience to learn it, I guess.

Why do I take so many photos? Well, part of it is that again, I'm NOT a photographer. So yeah I have to take too many to start with. And then when I'm sorting through them, if one photo shows some nuance in a polish the others didn't, I have to include that one too. Plus, as a reader, I love seeing the polish in different lighting situations. So that's what I do. It's not for everyone and I get that. But I like it, so that's how I do it. If I have sun, I definitely take sun shots, but I'm careful about WHICH sun. Early morning sun isn't good and very late evening sun is way too warm. I will take "shade" photos from 9 am to about 3 pm - any earlier or later and that's distorted as well. And for sun, usually between 11 and 1 or 2 for the best color-accuracy. I use one ott light and never EVER EVER use flash for any photos.

Just sitting on my kitchen table for now. Sort of in a corner so the light reflects back and I only need one.

What camera do I use? It's a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ28. And no, I have no idea what that means. My first one was stolen and I replaced it with a fancier Canon (or was it a Nikon?) and I never took ONE DECENT PHOTO with it. I finally went online and found the exact replacement. It's old and I still love it. I haven't bothered to learn everything it does and I should. Initially I'd gotten it because of the 18X zoom and I wanted it for my travel photos. I use the iA (auto) setting most of the time. Even for the macros. I can't get the macro setting to work very well. When I'm taking actions shots of the dogs like Twinks catching the frisbee, I use the lil skier dude icon. That's about it! My cord crapped out so I got a card reader and that's how I upload to my MacBook Air, which is the only thing I have since my PC also crapped out.

The numbers written under each polish in the notebook on one of the first photos ID the pic I want to crop and watermark. As I crop and watermark, I rename to the polish name so they appear in google image searches. I use Picmonkey for that because the program I used to use was on my PC and was Windows-based.

Pet peeves? Photos that aren't color accurate. Critics. LOL! I can take criticism. I have a thick skin, thankfully. But people who think THEIR way is the only right way definitely get to me. You do it how you want on your blog. It's your blog! And let me do it how I want on mine. I want to show what the POLISH looks like because I don't work for polish makers. I do it for my readers. I'm not selling anything and I don't make "commission" or anything. And I don't do it for "free polish." It's not free and the last thing I need is MORE polish.

Well, that's about all I have for now. I have a few more collections to swatch and about 5 more that I've swatched I need to crop and watermark and upload to their respective dropbox folders to the maker. I can't even THINK about blogging them yet. And since I've started saying NO more often, this is light compared to what it used to be. It was becoming a job rather than a fun hobby. I've gotten back to it being fun again now though!

And those glasses in the first photo? I'm now at 3.00 strength cheaters. Getting old SUCKS! But, as they say, it's better than the alternative!

And I leave you with my dogs "just chillin'!"

Happy Polishing!


*The polishes you see in the photos were sent to me by Great Lakes Lacquer for my honest opinion.
If you enjoyed this post, please take a second to "like" it! Thanks!



  1. Thanks so much for that backstage look. Don't know how you do it but glad you do!

  2. Interesting article. Frankly, I don't know how nail bloggers do it. I can only imagine the investment in time, money, and mental agony. I do thank you and other bloggers for sharing with us. Looking back, I can't believe how the Internet and computers have changed the whole nail polish scene!

  3. What an honor that Alter Ego She Shines on your list! I am deeply appreciative for your recognition, thank you from the bottom and all around my heart!

  4. Thank you for you blogging and swatching! I really appreciate the time and effort you put into it, and also your honest reviews.

    I'm a semi-pro photog and if I need Photoshop, I get my professional photo printer friend to do it. I, and pretty much every photog I know, use the much more user-friendly Adobe Lightroom. Even the pros I know use it for 99% of their editing (I specialise in landscape and wildlife photog, so this may not apply to other types of photog). You can do most anything in Lightroom that you can in Photoshop these days.

    If you ever want to shut up the colour accuracy patrol, get a Spyder monitor calibrator second hand. Then you can glibly tell them it's their monitor, not your pic. :P But I think your blog is perfect as is :)

  5. Great, loaded post! I am in awe of the time and effort put into nail blogging....phew. Thanks for all the good info. And your puppies are adorable!


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