My 3 Favorite Resources for Blog Graphics

Happy Friday everyone! As many of you have noticed who have followed this blog for awhile, it has gone through quite a few changes over the last six months or so. I have switched from Blogger to Squarespace, and the site has an entirely new layout and design. Through this process (which is still happening - though incrementally for my own mental health!), I have turned to a few sites that have helped me create the aesthetic that I want for my site and my brand. I decided to give you all the deets on them and why I have come to rely on them as my go-to resources!

Number 1 - Canva

Canva has become my Holy Grail of blog graphics. Seriously. I use this for almost every post you've seen over the last few months or so. The thing that is so great about Canva is if you are technologically-impaired (as I am), it does a lot of the work for you. Need a kick ass blog graphic that is the perfect size? Simply pick the blog graphic template and perfect dimensions are automatic. You have tons of graphic backgrounds to choose from or you can upload your own. Some of the elements are free and others you have to pay for. You pay $1 for one graphic or you can spend $10 for 10 graphics. Whichever you'd like. And you have access to that graphic to edit it to your heart's content for 24 hours. I usually download two graphics - one JPEG and one PNG. For $1 it's a bargain. And again- if you upload a graphic you already have? Entirely free! You can also create printable content, presentations and even wedding invitations! The possibilities are endless.

A screenshot of the templates available. There are TONS more but these are the ones I use the most for my blog and social media.

 

Number 2 - Stocksy

I recently discovered Stocksy and it has been a God send for me. High quality professionally photographed images is what you will get from Stocksy. In lieu of stock photos that you may see a dozen times on the internet.  This site is not free, prices range from $15 - $130 depending on the size of the image you purchase. But once you've purchased it, it's yours to use how ever much you'd like. You simply cannot re-sell the image as your own. And since it is an cooperative site a good portion of the money you spend is going directly to the person who took your photo! That's pretty awesome in my opinion.  If you'd like an idea of what you can expect from Stocksy I highly suggest going to their site and taking a look around. You will find some beautiful photography. In fact, the photo I used for this post is from Stocksy!

 
 

Number 3 - Unsplash

I have mentioned Unsplash here before. It is an awesome - free- resource, for high quality photos. Just as great a quality as Stocky in fact. The only difference is that because the images are free you run the risk of seeing an image you use multiple times on other sites. Also, bear in mind, that the photos will be more general and not as content specific as Stocksy or other paid sites. If you are okay with that, and are not ready to drop dough on stock images, then I highly recommend Unsplash. I used it for quite some time and I still use a few images from it from time to time.  With Unsplash you merely need to create an account to begin downloading images. And new images are added every 10 days and sent directly to your e-mail.  

 

I hope you all found this post helpful in upgrading your graphics game. If you have any recommendations for sites you use and love, let me know in the comments section!

 

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Zoya Seashells 2016 Summer Collection - Swatches & Review

*Provided for Review

Hello my fellow polish warriors! Today I have for you the second half of the Zoya Summer collection, Seashells. This collection is made up of 6 colors in Zoya's signature Pixie Dust texture.  Zoya had originally announced that they were discontinuing the Pixie Dust line so I was pleasantly surprised to see these in the press release. 

Let me start off by saying I was a huge fan of Zoy'a original Pixie Dust line. Since then the line and the formulas has changed quite a bit and I have never had the same squeals of joy I experienced with the OG collection.

First up is Zooey. Zoya describes it as aclassic pink laced with fine gold. This reads far more coral-y than pink to me. The formula was good I use two thin coats for full opacity. This is a lovely color but reads more Spring than Summer to me. 

 

Next up is Cece. A bright green with yellow undertones and gold. The formula on this one wasn't great. Very thin and sheer. I usually only do two coats with textured polishes because anymore than that and it can start to look weird. I used two coats for this polish and as you can see I still had visible nail line. I also just don't like how this looks against my skin tone.  I managed to get a direct sunlight pic (the sun was playing possum with the clouds that day) and it definitely looks better in sunlight.

 

Bay is a sky blue laced with silver. I had the exact same issues with Bay that I and with Cece - the formula was super thin and even with two coats I couldn't achieve full opacity. Also like Cece, Bay looks much better when in direct sunlight, but you can still see how sheer it is.

 
 

Linds is described as a cherry red with fuchsia glitter. Linds had one of the better formulas. It's on the thicker side and I achieved opacity with two thin coats. One of my all-time favorite textured polishes is Zoya Chyna. It's one of those colors that I consistently reach for during the fall and winter and so Linds had a lot to live up to. Unfortunately I found it a bit flat Even in direct sunlight it didn't really sparkle all that much. 

Next up is Tilly, a silvery gray. The formula on this was one of the better of the bunch. It applied evenly and I achieved full opacity in two thin coats. My only issue with this polish is that it's silver. And silver just doesn't scream Summer to me. Managed to get one last sun shot before it disappeared. Forevvvverr! Just kidding. It came back. The next day. 

 

And last we have Levi. This was my favorite of the collection. It had the best formula and well, I'm a sucker for gold. I wore this one as an accent nail with some nail art and it held up nicely for a good week.  That's pretty impressive for a textured polish. I used two coats and had no issues with application. 

 

I really wanted to like this collection, but unfortunately it just didn't live up to my expectations. I think Zoya missed the mark a bit on the color choices. My favorite in the collection is Levi. It hands down had the best formula.

 

Zoya Seashells collection is available via the Zoya website and retails for $10 a bottle.

 

 
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Zoya Sunsets Summer 2016 Collection - Swatches & Review

*Provided for Review

Two swatch posts in one week?! Can you believe it?! I have to say I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now. So productive! Today I have for you the first part of Zoya's 2016 summer collections, Sunsets. Sunsets is a collection of 6 "one-coat" creme polishes in bright summer-inspired colors. 

 

I was very intrigued with the idea of one coat creme polish. I mean, that's the dream, right? To be able to sit down and do one coat of a polish and be good to go? Well, unfortunately wasn't as successful with this as I would have hoped. I wound up needing two with most if not all of the polishes in the collection. I tend to to do thicker coats when painting my nails but decided to do regular to thin coats as most other people would. Because of this I had opacity issues. 

 

First up is Dory, a bright blue creme. This came out at the perfect time since Finding Dory opens this weekend in theaters! Formula-wise this was one of the easier polishes. The formulas on all of these were a tad peculiar - some thick and some thin - but this one was a nice consistency. However, I still needed two coats for an opaque finish.

 

Zoya describes Liv as a "fun-filled" purple on their site. This reads more as a mute mauve/purple than a true purple on me. I would have preferred something a little brighter for Summer. The formula was one of the thinnest in the collection. I used two thin coats for opacity. 

 

Ness is described as softened jade green. This is pretty accurate. The consistency was similar to Dory's . And as you can see in the pics I had some issues with leveling and streaks. This is a really pretty green but again this reads more Spring than Summer to me.

 

Next up is Brynn, a bright "popsicle" pink. This was definitely the thinnest of all of the polishes. I used two coats and after looking at pictures, I could have probably used a third. Color-wise I think it's prefect for the season. But, unfortunately it was my least favorite for application.

 

Cam is my second favorite color of this collection. First off it's bright orange - which is one of my favorite colors for Summer. Second - it has the best formula in the collection. I still needed two coats but they applied really well and evenly. I wore this color for a week and I am currently rocking it on my toes. This is a great Summer pedicure color!

 

And last but not least is Dixie, a watermelon red with a hint of pink. This is my absolute favorite color of the collection. It's so bright and juicy and gorgeous! I thought Cam would be the one to steal my heart until I tried this one on. The formula is on the thinner side - but it was perfectly fine with two coats and I had no issues with application. This is one of those colors that looks good on everybody. 

So overall my feelings on this collection are that I'm disappointed. I think if Zoya hadn't marketed them as one coat cremes my expectations would have been more realistic. But because they did I found it lacking. Also, I feel like some of the colors would be better suited for a Spring collection. My two faves of course are Cam and Dixie, though I think Dory is also really pretty witha  good formula.

The Zoya Sunsets collection is available on the Zoya website. Each polish retails for $10.

 

 
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KBShimmer 2016 Summer Collection - Partial Swatches and Review

Good morning gang! It has been forever and a day since I've done a swatch post for you but I have not one but two for you this week! I know - you're probably saying, "Whoa Ameerah, whoa! Don't hurt yourself." I spent the better part of Saturday morning doing a lot of swatching. Two things I'd forgotten: How time-consuming swatching is and also how fun it can be. 

Today I have for your drooling pleasure three polishes from the KBShimmer Summer 2016 Collection. 

 

First up is That's Nude To Me. A soft linear nude holo. I am such a sucker for colors like this. Seriously. I have a problem. The formula was good. I achieved opacity with two easy coats. I had no issues with streaks or patches.

 

Next up is my favorite of the three polishes, Ready For A Good Lime. A creamy neon lime green with a hint of yellow undertones. I love colors like this for summer and they look really good on me, if I do say so myself. The formula was great; a little on the thick side but not hard to work with. I didn't have to layer it over a white base to get the full color effect. I used two coats for pictures but I could probably have gotten away with just one. 

 

And last but not least is One Night Sand, a rose gold glitter bomb.  I was really impressed with not only how it applied but also how easy it was to remove. It was too thin or patchy; two coats was enough to get full coverage. I wore this in a nail art design that I created with al three polishes and despite having a ton of this polish on my nails I was able to remove it with non-acetone remover! Pretty impressive for a glitter bomb polish. 

I really like the three polishes I chose from this collection, but now I have my eyes set on a few more that I've since seen swatches of.  It's well-rounded collection with something for everyone. 

Side note: As you may have noticed, I have switched up the way I take photos. I wasn't happy with my old set up and it was putting me off wanting to take photos, so I decided to experiment a bit. This was my first time using this background with this type of natural lighting. Let me know in the comments if you like it!

KBShimmer is sold via the KBShimmer website as well as Amazon.com. Each bottle retails for $9.25

*Provided for review

 
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My 4 On-the-Go Nail Care Essentials

Having healthy nails is an essential part of being a nail blogger. After all, your nails are your canvas. And if the canvas isn't properly prepped and taken care of, what you put on it won't matter all that much. I like to keep my on the go nail care routine simple - if it requires a bunch of stuff and a lot of steps it's not for me. I keep my list paired down to four essential items that keep my nails healthy and looking great with minimal fuss and effort and today I'm sharing them with you my lovely peeps!

 

Number 1

First up is a nail file I have been using for the past two months now (*sent to me courtesy of Aveniro). I had used crystal nail files before but the ones I used were on the cheap side and didn't work all that well for me. After two months of using this one however I am really impressed and happy with the results: crisp clean nail edges and no shredding or peeling, which is something that my naturally dry nails are prone to. Glass nail files last much longer than regular nail files, you can wash them and wipe them down and they will still perform. They are also much gentler on the nails. And you can use them on acrylic nails as well as natural nails. So while, yes, they are more expensive than the nail files you get from your local beauty supply they are well worth the investment. Aveniro doesn't sell directly to consumers but I recommend this one from OPI which I have heard great things about.

Number 2

Next up is a cuticle oil that I have been using for quite awhile now. I had stopped using it for awhile and was experimenting with other brands but they just didn't do the trick like CND Solar Oil. This is my go-to cuticle oil. I apply this throughout the day (especially after washing my hands) to keep my cuticles hydrated. I have been pretty lax about using cuticle remover every week when I do my manicures and this is what has saved my cuticles from looking awful. Cuticle oil is the holy grail of nail care. If you don't do anything else for your nails invest in cuticle oil and be diligent about using it. Your nails will thank you. 

 

Number 3

If cuticle oil is the holy grail of nail care then I would say that a good hand cream or lotion is it's partner in crime. You really do need both. Keeping your nails and the skin around it hydrated will protect against breaks and damage to the nails and nail beds. As I stated above, I have naturally dry nails which make them prone to breaks, so the one-two punch of cuticle oil and hand cream is important for me. I wold love to say that I have a must have go to hand cream, but well...I don't. I try lots of different ones and haven't found one that I absolutely can't live without. I have to be extra careful about what I use because I suffer from eczema and psoriasis and just generally have easily angered skin. I don't use anything with parabens (which are just bad in general), sulfates or fragrance. I generally use Dermasil because it's what I use on my body and it works well for me, but I recently ran out and grabbed this sample that I had laying around from an old Birchbox. It's called Skin Clinical Extreme Healing Repair Concentrate and it's formulated for severely dry, itchy and delicate skin. Which is my skin in a nutshell. I've been using it for about a week now and so far I really like it. It's not as creamy as I would normally like in a hand cream, but it lasts a decent amount of time and I don't feel like I have to constantly reapply it like I do sometimes with Dermasil or other creams. I looked online to get info on the cost of it and where you can purchase it and at $24.95 for 3 oz. it's on the pricey side. Will I purchase this once I run out? Probably not. I'm not sufficiently wowed by it to justify the price tag. So it will be back to Dermasil for me once I run out!

 

Number 4

And last but certainly not least is what I call my DefCon 5 item. This is for serious nail emergencies ONLY. There is a reason this nail glue is called Mach 5! I have used my fair share of nail glues over the years and Mach 5 by OPI is hands down my favorite. But I only use it when I absolutely need it. Because whoa this stuff dries fast! The bottle and nozzle are a bit cumbersome to use (which is why I managed to glue two of my fingers together the first time I used it!), but it gets the job done quickly. If you are at work and have a sudden and terrible nail break the last thing you want is to have to wait minutes for your nail glue to dry. This dries in about 10-15 seconds. I keep mine in a little plastic baggy in my makeup bag to protect my other items in case of leakage.

 

So what are some of your must have on the go nail care items? Let me know in the comments!

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