Category Archives: Blog News

My Exclusive Interview with Canadian Nail Artist, Valerie Ducharme (Contessa Awards 2016 Finalist)

This evening, I’ll be attending the 27th Contessa Awards at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto. Hosted by Noah Cappe (from Food Network’s Carnival Eats) for a second consecutive year, the special gala honouring creative Canadian talent: hairstylists, colourists, salon teams, makeup artists, and nail artists!

Check out Salon Magazine’s list of all the finalists on their website. Also, during the event that begins today at 7 pm EST, you can watch the live webcast here.

Follow me on social media because I’ll be sharing some photos and videos. Mainly, I plan to share them on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat (username: swatchandlearn), but in case I also post them on Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest, I’m including those links, too.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Valerie Ducharme, a Canadian nail artist from Quebec who’s a Contessa Awards 2016 finalist and last year’s winner! (Good luck to her tonight!)

She took the time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions I had, and it was fun to get a closer glimpse into the nail industry.

Below is just one of the many intricate nail designs she’s created.

Check out the rest of this post to read her responses to all my questions and to see more photos of her inspiring nail art!

Valerie Ducharme Canadian Nail Artist

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KISS 2016 Preview Event Recap

KISS Nails 2016 Preview Event

Yesterday evening, I attended the KISS 2016 Preview at the Omni King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto.

I got a firsthand sneak peek at the latest nail and eyelash products that will be launching early next year!

In this post are photos I took during and after the event, as well as my commentary on the whole experience, including the setup, the food, and meeting celebrity manicurist, Gina Edwards.

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Canadian Giveaway: Enter to Win These 12 Hard Candy Nail Polishes! (Ends November 13)

Edit (Sunday November 15, 2015 at 6:55 pm EST):

Congratulations, Chelsea W.! You’ve won my Hard Candy nail-polish giveaway! Please reply to my e-mail within 48 hours to claim your prize.

Thank you to everyone for participating. More fun giveaways are coming!

Hard Candy Nail Polish Giveaway

Hallowe’en, my favourite holiday, is tomorrow, so I’m giving my awesome Canadian readers a chance to win something fun. No tricks and all treats!

(Stay tuned later for future giveaways that will be open worldwide. You are appreciated and not forgotten, my international readers! This time, I’m keeping it local.)

I reached out to Hard Candy’s PR, and we teamed up to give you a prize that, to me, is better than chocolate or any candies (even though, yes, I have a sweet tooth – no denying that)!

Up for grabs is this cute set that houses 12 mini Hard Candy nail polishes in a wide range of finishes and colours.

Aside from giving you so many shades to choose from, what makes this particularly exciting is that there are perforated flaps covering each bottle.

You can open one flap each day to treat yourself to a little reward, or you can throw the “rules” away and rip open all the flaps in one sitting. It’s up to you!

And although it’s set up like an advent calendar, that’s not to say that you can’t enjoy this nail-polish set, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas. If you ‘celebrate’ nail polish and the joy it brings, that’s all the enthusiasm you need! 😉

Edit: This cute 12 Days of Nail set is part of Hard Candy’s new Holiday Collection that’s available exclusively at Walmart stores and on the Walmart Canada website starting the beginning of November 2015.

Read all the salient details carefully in this blog post to ensure that your entry is valid.

Thank you to all my readers, whether you’ve been visiting for years or you found me just a few minutes ago. You are all welcome at Swatch And Learn!

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I’ll Be Attending IMATS Toronto 2015 Today

I’ll be attending IMATS Toronto 2015 today, and if you’d like to see live coverage (before I do a recap of the experience on the blog later), be sure to follow me on my social media:

The social-media platforms I’ve indicated with an asterisk (*) are the ones that I’m going to focus on during the trade show.

If you want to see the most photos and/or videos when I’m there, those are the ones to watch more closely. :)

In case you don’t know what IMATS is, it’s the International Make-Up Artist Trade Show, which is held all over the world including Toronto, New York, Vancouver, London, Sydney, and Los Angeles.

You don’t have to be a makeup artist to attend. (I’m not a makeup artist.)

See the rest of this post to read the official IMATS Toronto press release, which contains information about the events that will be taking place at the trade show, as well as key speakers and admission prices.

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50% Rescue Beauty Sale Ends Tonight at 11 pm EDT

This is a quick post to let you know that the 50% Rescue Beauty Sale ends tonight at 11 pm EDT, so if there are shades that you’ve been drooling over, now’s definitely the time to snatch them up from the Rescue Beauty website!

I took two photos of some of the Rescue Beauty nail polishes that I have in my collection. It reminded me that I need to review more on here. (They tend to have excellent formulas.)

In case you’d like to see some in-depth reviews with swatches of Rescue Beauty nail polishes that I’ve posted in the past, click the link.

Rescue Beauty Nail Polish

Rescue Beauty Nail Polishes

The following items are not included in the sale: Makeupwithdrawal, Manicurator,, Refined and Polished, Morning Light, Trois Oignons Rouges, Combien?, Pardonne Moi, C’est Tout, Ah, Oui, and Bonne Journey. During this sale, only one other promotion may be redeemed (birthday code or gift card or rewards points).

Rescue Beauty Lounge nail polishes are created with resin and high molecular polymers to improve flexibility, durability, and high shine. They contain no harmful Toluene, Formaldehyde, DBP, or Formaldehyde Resin. They also don’t test on animals.


Swatch And Learn’s 5th Blogiversary + Giveaway

Edit (Saturday August 8):

Congratulations, Jeannie! You’ve won my giveaway! I’ll be e-mailing you in a few minutes. To claim your prize, reply to my e-mail within 48 hours of the time stamped on that e-mail.

Thanks to everyone for celebrating my 5th blogiversary with me and for participating in my giveaway!

Stay tuned – I am already thinking about the next giveaway to reward my loyal readers! :)

Swatch And Learn 5th Blogiversary Giveaway

IMPORTANT (Please read to protect yourself from scammers):

To enter my giveaways, I never ask you to click on links that direct to places outside of that are random websites. I’ve heard of scammers like that who prey upon innocent people, so please don’t fall for that. If there is a shortened URL that starts with something like,, etc., you can use the web tool called “UnMask Me“, and it expands and uncovers any short URL, so you know where it directs to without clicking on it.

All legit links to this giveaway should go to my blog, and in particular, this blog post. If you uncover a URL that goes elsewhere, do not click it! Report it! The safety of my readers is very important to me!

Before I get into the giveaway, I have a few things to say. :)

You may have noticed that in my most recent posts, I’ve been rather nostalgic. That’s because a lot has changed since I began this blog in 2010. But, at the same time, things have stayed the same. (As they say in French, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”)

I’m still blogging for the same reasons I started – I love interacting with readers like you and being able to share the excitement over nail polishes and beauty products!

Money has never been a motivating factor for me to blog. In fact, I don’t make any money from it, but I put money into it (to pay for things like hosting and keeping my domain name.)

Not going to mention any companies, but I’ve turned down opportunities for paid sponsorships over the years because I want my first one to be genuine and the right fit for me and my readers. I won’t be doing any sponsored posts for marble moustache combs, nasal kazoo lessons, toenail-clipping contests, or scented earwax candles. (Hehe, I’m being silly about those, but my overall point is serious. If I ever do a sponsored post, it will be mentioned in a straightforward fashion and it will be beauty-related.)

Posting in-depth posts several times a week with lots of content is very demanding, especially since I work on it after my full-time job and on the weekends. (Although sometimes I get on my phone during lunch and post on social media.)

Just like at work, for my blog, I have to efficiently manage my time, in order to get things done. And I still make room for family, friends, dating, relaxing, and pursuing additional hobbies (like knitting).

You’re My Inspiration

You, dear readers, have been the greatest source of inspiration for me, and when you interact with me via a comment left on the blog, social media, or in a private e-mail, it means so much!

There have been days that are tougher than 100-year-old beef jerky with a ‘Mom’ tattoo, and it brings happy tears to my eyes when I read encouraging comments from you. Sometimes it spins the worst day into the best day!

I value all of my readers.

Whether you heard about Swatch And Learn only today because of the giveaway or if you’ve been following since 2010, I’m glad that you’re here.

Thank you for making my blog the welcoming community that it is!

Outside my loyal readership, I’m fortunate to collaborate with incredibly supportive companies and PR firms.

They have invited me to attend exclusive launch parties, shared exciting embargoed beauty news, provided me with product samples to test out, and generally supported me on a personal level.

There are many companies that I’ve collaborated with over the years, but I’d like to give a special shoutout to these, in no particular order:

I’ve had incredible opportunities since my previous blogiversary, and these are just a few:

But going back to you, nothing would’ve been possible if my readers didn’t support me.

Read the rest of this post carefully to learn how you can enter my 5-Year Blogiversary Giveaway for your chance to win 12 full-size nail polishes that I purchased especially for this occasion!

It’s open to everyone worldwide.

Starts now, and it ends on Friday August 7th, 2015 at 11:59 pm EDT.

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Juicy Couture I Am Juicy Couture Pop-up Shop in Toronto July 17 & 18 (12pm – 7pm)

Juicy Couture I Am Juicy CoutureYesterday evening, I attended the Juicy Couture I Am Juicy Couture exclusive media and influencer launch party at 501 Queen Street West in Toronto in the pop-up shop designed by Candice and Alison.

This is where I got the custom-engraved Juicy Couture I Am Juicy Couture bottle with my initials that I showed you on my Instagram and other social media.

(Later in this post, I share with you how you can get your bottle engraved, too!)

It was incredible because there was music by Gillespie Bros to set the lounge atmosphere, food by Parts & Labour to appease your stomach, and portrait sittings by Renata Kraveh, a fashion photographer, to bring out your inner model!

(To get an idea of the vibe, click here to see the short video clip I posted on Instagram.)

We heard about the inspiration behind the perfume, and watched a little clip of Behati Prinsloo greeting us and welcoming us to the launch party. (Behati is the face of Juicy Couture I Am Juicy Couture.)

Cocktails were crafted by a handsome bartender (a photo of him is further down in this post), servers went around with hors d’oeuvres on platters, and there was also a fragrance bar that offered custom engravings on perfume bottles of Juicy Couture I Am Juicy Couture!

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