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Ask Sabrina | July 2023

July 9, 2023

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer Ginger

Happy Sunday! It’s time for another Ask Sabrina roundup! You sent in SO many great questions in my last poll on the blog and on Instagram, I think I have a list long enough to keep this series going on for the next several months!

Here are 10 more questions I’m answering today. As always if you’re curious about something personal, my background, etc. you can always click on the ASK SABRINA category to read past posts!

Even though many of you have been with me from the beginning (ie before I ever showed my face to the world) there are lots of new readers who want to know more about how I started my blog, how to become a beauty influencer/blogger, why we moved to Florida and more. All of these are answered in past Ask Sabrina posts, but I’ll elaborate on a few since many of you have asked follow up questions.

Miami Beach | The Beauty Look Book

1. Can you tell us more about your upcoming move? Why are you moving again? How can you decide between San Diego or Miami?

Andrew and I love exploring and our jobs give us the flexibility to do it! San Diego is still home to me. I have family and friend there although many have moved away over the past decade. A lot of our friends moved away from San Diego to bigger cities like LA or San Francisco for more job opportunities. Also when the pandemic hit and everything was shut down many of our friends moved to different states to be closer to family.

We might move back to San Diego because of Andrew’s job and my family there. But right now our heart is set on Miami for our next adventure. We are exploring our options and are are taking our time exploring both.

For our move to Miami, I’ve always wanted to live in a big city and we both love all that Miami has to offer. It’s significantly bigger than Tampa and whenever we travel to Miami we are always sad to leave. We still love Tampa/St. Pete but we’re ready for a change after being here 6 years.

And who knows? We might be back after a year or so! A lot of readers have told me they have places on both coasts. They travel back and forth depending on what vibe they want. Tampa/St Pete is more casual laid back and relaxed while Miami is busier and has more energy.

Ask Sabrina 1.10.2020 | The Beauty Look Book

2. Do you ever regret leaving your 9-5 corporate job? Do you feel your education and background in finance helps you with your blogging career today?

I have ZERO regrets about leaving the corporate world. When I quit my corporate job to blog full time nearly everyone told me I would regret it. At the time I decided to leave I was really torn. It was the first company I worked at that had a good workplace culture and environment. I really loved the team I worked with and the management. All that said, I still felt limited in what I could do and how I could grow. I was expected to advance to a managerial position eventually and managing people is not my thing at all. The transition of working at a big company to working alone was quite a shock for me. It took some time to get used to but I haven’t regretted it at all.

All of my experiences have been beneficial to me in some way. I do think my education helped in many ways. I don’t know that I would call it essential for me now, but I’m happy I went through it.

Best Concealers YSL, Natasha Denona, Givenchy, NARS and Armani

3. What is your favorite concealer these days?

I still swear by the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer but there are LOTS of great new options out today. My top 2 right now are the Natasha Denona Hy-Glam Concealer and Givenchy Prisme Libre Concealer. Also really love YSL Touche Eclat (best for brightening) and the Armani Luminous Silk Concealer (always a classic).

For blending I usually use a beautyblender but my 2 favorite brushes are the Real Techniques 210 Brush and the Hourglass Vanish Concealer Brush.

4. What is one beauty product you wish existed but doesn’t?

I REALLY love that Chanel makeup applicator machine from the movie Fifth Element. Instant look that’s also Chanel? Sign me up! For something more realistic, I would really love it Chanel brought back their best colors they discontinued (ie Nude Lip Liner, Seashell or Glow Glossimer, or any of the glossimers really).

Chanel Fall 2022 Rouge Allure Lipstick | The Beauty Lookbook


5. Best wedding lipstick?

This would be a great question for me to ask YOU! I’d love to do a poll on what lipstick you wore to your wedding because Andrew and I didn’t have one. We got married at the courthouse in San Diego because planning a wedding was overwhelming. Andrew proposed while we were both in grad school. We had been dating for nearly 7 years and knew we were ready, but school was very time consuming for both of us. We had very busy schedules and I felt like we barely saw each other for 3 years!

We had planned on having a big ceremony a year later after we both graduated when we had more time to plan and have fun with it all. But by the time a year rolled around we were both very happily married, felt like we didn’t need a big wedding and decided to save the $$$ for a future honeymoon trip.

For weddings I’ve attended I actually don’t recall what beauty products I’ve worn, but I feel like for lipstick it would have usually been something from Tom Ford or Chanel. It’s really the ceremony or being there for loved ones that I remember versus what I wore. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to a wedding – most of our friends all have kids by now!

6. What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?

Hands down anything sweet. I love Jeni’s Ice Cream and Trader Joe’s Pancake Bread. I also love Swedish Fish and Haribo gummies.

7. Do you like to cook or bake? What are your favorite foods?

Yes, I love baking and cooking! I used to work at Williams and Sonoma and assisted in their cooking classes. I had to stop baking though because it was incredibly unhealthy.

When we moved to Florida we both started cooking a lot to eat healthier but right now I actually don’t cook very much. Andrew wanted to find a way to help cut down on my cooking time so we’ve been trying out some meal plans. If you want an overview or recs I can definitely share them. Finding one we both like has been a challenge because I’m the ultimate picky eater. We’ve tried a lot!

8. What’s a habit you’ve build into your routine?

Both Andrew and I have made an extra effort to improve our health and wellness and it’s made such a huge difference in our lives. We don’t always eat healthy, we still like to indulge, but we’ve made a huge effort to cut down on sugar intake and we’ve never felt better! It’s been a challenge since I have a sweet tooth, but we really make an effort to consume it in moderation.

9. You’re stuck on a desert island, what 5 beauty products do you want with you?

This question always has me laughing because I have follow up questions! Am I by myself? Who else is there? Can I escape or get off the island? If I’m by myself chances are that I really won’t care about beauty products and would rather want something to get me off that island!

But I can’t live without baths or showers so I’d want a lifetime supply of good shower gel (if I had to have only one, I’d steal Andrew’s Jack Black Turbo Wash because it will double as a shampoo) and face cleanser (probably First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Cleanser). Sun protection in which case I’d have my Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion Sunscreen. Native Deodorant because even if I’m by myself I don’t want to smell bad. A good lip balm, I think the Vaseline Lip Therapy Cocoa Butter would be my pick. Also I’d probably cheat and ask to be allowed a 6th product which is a really good hair brush.

Calvin and Ollie

10. Pet stuff! I’m combining 2 in one. What shampoo and grooming products do you use for Ollie? Do Ollie and Kitty get along?

We started with Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Fragrance Free because that’s what we used on Jake and Lucy for over a decade. We’ve since started using the Ouai Pet Shampoo because it smells amazing (available at Sephora and Ulta). We alternate between the two brands.

I did take a whiff of the Aesop Pet Shampoo but thought the scent was too strong so I didn’t buy it. I could see myself using it, but I felt like it would be too much for Ollie’s nose. If you have tried it on your pet let me know!

Ollie still hates baths so we wash him in the shower which he tolerates.

And yes Ollie and Kitty get along well. They don’t snuggle but they actually play together now and have zoomies where they chase each other. Sometimes the cat is the one who initiates play time with some playful swatting. It’s so cute.

That wraps up this week’s Ask Sabrina series! If you want to share your wedding lipstick in the comments I’m sure future brides would be absolutely grateful to hear what your favorites are! I’ll also do a poll on Instagram this week and share results in my next Ask Sabrina series.


Ask Sabrina

Ask Sabrina | Summer 2023

June 26, 2023

Nordstrom Beauty Spring Launches 2022

Happy Monday! Doing another round of Q&As for my Ask Sabrina series! I think I might do this every other week going forward! Also hosting another giveaway!

Creed Love in White

1) Do you ever wish you were in a different line of work? If you weren’t a beauty influencer/blogger what would you be doing today?

Yes of course! There are some days when I wish I was doing something different but I am really happy being my own boss. I left the corporate world when I was 33. I am grateful everyday that I found something of my own to do and that I can make a living doing what I love. Being self-employed has a lot of challenges and as a team of 1, it can get overwhelming. I’ve been doing this full-time for 9 years now and there have been lots of ups and downs. Things have changed so much since I started blogging but I think every industry goes through lots of changes.

If I weren’t a beauty influencer today I have no idea what I would be doing. When I left my corporate job I was actually interviewing for several other finance positions in other companies. I ended up withdrawing my applications after several rounds of interviews to pursue blogging full-time. A lot can happen in 9 years. If I weren’t a blogger I might still be working in a corporate 9-5 type job but then who knows? I might be doing something completely different too.

Away Travel Bigger Carry On + Everywhere Bag Review Miami Getaway Pack List

2) Do you have packing tips for city trips? What about European travel?

I think packing tips depends on the city. Every city I’ve traveled to is so different! For summer trips I would recommend packing comfortable walking shoes (ie New Balance or APL sneakers are my favs right now). I love the Celine sneakers I splurged on last year, but they are leather so they can get hot. They are really comfortable though and there was no break in period. They only have whole sizes and as a true 6 and a half/36.5 I went with the 36 and they fit perfectly.

A good crossbody bag or tote is essential for me. I’ve been loving the Loewe Puzzle Bag (in small) and love it as an over shoulder bag. I like that it has a zipper closure at the top so you can keep things more secure. Summers are usually hot everywhere but some areas have chilly nights so I’d recommend packing layers like a lightweight denim jacket or sweater. I love the Jenni Kayne Cropped Cabin Sweater. The AG Robyn Denim Jacket is one of the softest jackets I own. It runs very fitted though so I’d recommend sizing up 1-2 sizes.

It’s been so long since we’ve traveled to Europe! I really want to go back. In 2015 we did a month trip to Europe covering 10 cities (I think). If you’ve been a long-time reader you may remember Andrew allowed me to bring 1 backpack for travel. Yes, it was pure insanity, but we made it work. His logic was that since we were going to Paris, Rome, Athens, Istanbul and a Mediterranean cruise and back to Paris that we were going to be in and out of lots of airports. Having a back pack would shorten our travel time and be more convenient than having to check luggage, wait at baggage claim etc.

We traveled in the summer so I rolled everything as tightly as I could and packed tanks, swimsuit, shorts and maybe 2 pairs of shoes (plus the ones I wore on our flight).

I don’t think we’ll ever pack that light again. We had lots of fun but had to buy extra luggage for our trip back because I did some shopping and we didn’t have enough room in our backpacks to bring souvenirs home. I guess the short version is that I don’t have good packing tips for Europe. Backpacking is do-able but I did not look cute the entire trip.

3) Favorite luxury purchase this year?

Oooh tough one! I’ve been really loving the Chanel Coco Crush ring and necklace I splurged on. You can see them here.

4) Best bronzer / your fav right now? One cream, one powder.

Another tough one! I would say Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream in 392 is my favorite for cream and Gucci Eclat Soleil Luminous Bronzer Shade 3 is the one I’ve been reaching for in terms of powders. Also really like the Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Crème Contour and Powder Duo which has both cream + powder in one compact (I like She’s Sculpted).

Best Bronzers Chanel and Gucci Beauty

5) What are the top 5 beauty products you cannot live without?

This changes all the time, but right now: 1) Dior Lip Maximizer in 038 Rose Nude 2) Chanel Les Beiges Water-Fresh Complexion Touch 3) NARS Orgasm Blush 4) Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder 5) Patrick Ta Major Dimension Eyeshadow Palette

Patrick TA Major Dimension Eyeshadow Palette review

6) Best summer perfumes?

This will be a dedicated post! I’ll share my top 3 though: Celine Parade, Loewe Ibiza Eclectic, Creed Virgin Island Water

Creed Virgin Island Water

7) Botox update please! Do you still like the results? Any regrets? Will you do it again?

I’m at the 1 month mark and have so much more movement in my forehead. I can raise my eye brows now a bit and my 11s are coming back. My deep forehead wrinkles are still not fully back yet but I’m starting to see them re-appear. I have no regrets. I will 100% do it again. I don’t know that I will get the same areas done and for sure will ask for fewer units.

When I did my first update 1/2 of you told me you get it done every 6 months. The other half said that was insanity and that it only lasts 3 months. Based on my experience I do think I will need it ever 3 or 4 months for a refresh which means the next appointment will be in August.

8) What’s your summer skincare routine?

I feel like this could be a full blog post too! I haven’t changed much in my routine except I haven’t used retinol or acids as much because of increased sun exposure with it being sunnier right now.

Summers in humid areas are brutal on skin! On one hand I get sweaty and oily when outdoors. My skin also becomes dry with the constant air conditioning or extreme heat from outdoors.

I’ve been double cleansing a lot. I love the Chanel Sublimage Gel-to-Oil Cleanser for a cleansing oil that also hydrates. I like the formula better than a regular oil cleanser because it’s less messy. I’ll follow with a regular cleanser like First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Cleanser or the Dior Off/On Foaming Face Cleanser. On days I want a bit more exfoliation I use the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant too.

I mask once a week to clarify with the Glamglow Supermud Mask (my holy grail). For hydration I am obsessed with the La Mer Treatment Lotion Hydrating Sheet Masks. They’re hands down the best sheet masks I’ve tried. For acne spots that surface I alternate between the Neutrogena Rapid Clear (but be warned it has benzol peroxide which bleaches colors, I use it at night) or the Bliss Acne Spot Treatment.

For my daily moisturizer I alternate between La Mer Soft Moisturizing Cream or Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream. For eye creams I’ve also been alternating between La Mer and Drunk Elephant.

I rarely use anything at night because I like to let my skin breathe. I still use Sunday Riley’s Good Genes but in moderation since it’s an acid.

Summer Skincare Routine

9) Are you a reader? What are your favorites?

I am not a reader. It has been a very long time since I’ve read a book (longer than I care to admit). I do like to listen to podcasts or watch them on YouTube while I’m editing photos. I feel like the older I get the less patience I have to sit and read. I know it’s terrible but reading takes so much time (I am not a speed reader) and I would much rather watch or listen to something. If you have any books you absolutely loved please let me know. I might pick up one or two to read.

10) We love Ollie! Did you put him through training? He’s so well behaved! Does he sleep through the night? Did you crate train? Does he have separation anxiety?

We put Ollie through a 2 week board and train when he was 5 months old. It was life changing. They were so good to him and he learned so much. He learned to listen, sit, lay down, stay, walk without tugging or impulsively jumping and lots of obey commands even with distractions. We are thinking of sending him back for a refresher soon.

For crate training we failed. We did keep him in a crate for as long as we could but he just never stopped crying. When he was around 4 and a 1/2 months he started sleeping with us. He has a little bed in the corner of our bedroom that he sleeps on sometimes. But he also jumps up and likes to sleep on my feet. All of the pets we’ve had decided they like to sleep on my feet, or on my head lol.

He does sleep through the night but he has night time zoomies and it doesn’t matter how much activity or exercise he’s had in the day, even with evening walks, he spends at least 30 minutes to an hour going nuts before he goes to sleep and it’s only at night. It’s like he doesn’t want to miss out on anything.

Doodles seem to have a lot of separation anxiety and Ollie does since he’s half poodle. He’s getting better though. When he was a puppy he would follow us everywhere around the house and would not let us out of his sight. Andrew likes to bring him with us everywhere we can. We can now leave him at home for short periods of time. He has kitty to keep him company at home. They play with each other all the time and it makes my heart melt.

That wraps up this week’s Ask Sabrina! I’m giving away one box of beauty goodies to one reader! Open to US and Canada readers 18 years or older. To enter complete ALL the steps in the widget below. I’ll pick a winner on Thursday 6/29 and email them directly. Not sponsored or affiliated.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ask Sabrina

Ask Sabrina | June 2023

June 12, 2023

Ask Sabrina

Happy Monday! I’m doing a Q&A from the questions you submitted last week. It was fun reading through all the questions! I’ve picked 10 questions to answer. It has been a couple of years since I last did this type of post, perhaps I should start it up again? Let me know!

1) Have you and Andrew considered relocating to Miami since you visit so much? Would you go back to live in SoCal?

I feel like many of you may have read my mind on this as this is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive! Andrew and I are moving to Miami or San Diego hopefully this year. We’ve actually been traveling to Miami so frequently for this reason. We’ve been looking for a place since December. Currently narrowing down the specific area to move to – there are so many options, each with different pros and cons for what we are looking for. San Diego has also been an option we’ve talked about to be closer to my family and our friends back home.

Currently exploring our options with both cities and we will keep you posted!

Miami South Beach Christmas 2022

2) Favorite current luxury handbag? Best crossbody bag? Best raffia bag? Next splurge?

Oooh this is a tough one! I rotate frequently but would say my top 3 are the Bottega Mini Loop, Loewe Mini Puzzle and Celine Pico Belt Bag (review here). All of these are cross body. Each style is also carried in larger options with straps if super minis aren’t your style.

I think Loewe raffia bags are my favorite. I’ve gotten a lot of use out of the Shell Basket (small). For a larger beach tote I’m in love with the Anagram Basket in Ochre (medium).

What’s my next purchase? I’m very happy with my collection right now. However I have had my eye on the Bottega Arco Tote or Loewe Mini Flamenco.

Bottega Mini Loop in White

Bottega Mini Loop Bag White

Celine Pico Belt Bag in Light Taupe

Celine Belt Bag Pico Outfit

Loewe Shell Basket (small)

Loewe Shell Basket Tote

Loewe Anagram Basket

Loewe Anagram Basket Ochre, Rails Ellis Top

3) Best walking shoes when on vacation?

I love APL Techloom Breeze Sneakers or New Balance 327 (also love these) or the 524. Both are very comfortable and aren’t too thick/heavy so your feet can breathe. Leather sneakers are easier to keep clean/maintain but I try to save those for cooler weather as my feet get sweaty.

New Balance Sneakers

4) Favorite travel moment / trip?

So many great travel memories for me! I have two favorites. The best travel memory I have was a trip to Oxford England in 2001. I went to Oxford on a study abroad trip in college one summer and made friends that have become lifelong friends. I met my best friend on this trip (we were roomies) and I also met my future husband on this trip (Andrew was one of the TAs).

I would say the best trip I’ve been on was a month long Europe trip Andrew and I took back in 2015. We would love to go back to Europe for an extended trip. Probably not this year since we are planning a move. Hopefully in 2024!

Rhodes, Greece

5) How do you find places to travel with your fur babies?

Ollie has been really easy to travel with and we love it! So far we’ve only taken him with us to Miami which is close to us and super dog friendly. We haven’t taken him on a plane yet as we are not sure if he will fit under the seat for a carry on pet. Kitty has come with us to Miami a couple times but he does not like car rides at all.

It was pretty difficult to travel with Jake and Lucy. The Jack Russell breed is very energetic and they don’t always play well with others. They were always very competitive with each other, I had to take them on walks separately. They also couldn’t see one leave the house without the other so I had to distract one pup and quickly sneak out with the other dog. We did take them on a few road trips and we had fun but it was a lot of work.

When they were young we brought them on a road trip from San Diego to Seattle for Andrew’s work for around 1 week. They had fun in a lot of parks! We also drove Jake, Lucy and Kitty across country from San Diego to Tampa when we moved which took around 5 days. Finding dog friendly hotels on the road was a challenge. All three also travelled from Tampa to Louisville (and back) when we evacuated for a hurricane one year.

Ollie and Kitty

6) What is your exercise routine?

I’m embarrassed to admit I have been neglecting my exercise routine for months. It’s currently very sporadic but when we were exercising regularly Andrew and I did weight training 3-5 times per week with cardio mixed in. We found a great a trainer and worked with him for the past 3 years. Our exercises are split by category, one category per workout: Push Day, Pull Day, Leg Day. Sometimes we add in a shoulder day or active recovery day.

We also have a treadmill and assault bike. I’m getting back into it. Right now my chest and triceps are really sore from my last workout a couple days ago. I’ve been interested in trying Pilates but am not sure I have the core strength to do it.

7) What are your favorite make-up looks for a beach day? My eye make-up always runs.

My beach makeup has evolved over the years to be more minimalist. I’ll use the Supergoop! Glow Screen or Chanel CC Cream (which I am hoping comes back in stock). Sometimes I will set with a lightweight pressed powder. Add a tiny bit of cream bronzer like the Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Cream Bronzer or Tower 28 Sculptino (I like Getty).

For eyes if I do wear makeup it’s a cream shadow stick like the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick (I wear Golden Amber or Golden Pink the most). Some of the darker shades can be smudged along the lash line to double as liner. I rarely wear liner or mascara because no matter how “long-wear” it is, products simply don’t hold up to REAL humidity or heat.

For the best longwear eyeliners I really like the Tarte Quick Stick Eyeliner or the Sisley Phyto Liner Matte.

If you need a little color/bronze glow I love mixing in the Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Serum Drops with moisturizer or using it all over the face.

I love a good lip oil or tinted balm. Top two right now are the Hermes Lip Oils (reviewed and swatched here) and NARS Afterglow Sensual Shine (swatched here).


Hermes Hermesistible Infused Lip Care Oil

Supergoop! Glowscreen Golden Hour


Bobbi Brown Long-wear Cream Eyeshadow Sticks

8) What a good tinted moisturizer (Chanel cc cream is sold out!!)?

I’m still waiting for it to come back too! I was told at a store that Chanel is reformulating it but I don’t know for sure if it is. Nothing is as good, but some other alternatives I like are the Supergoop! CC Screen, Summer Fridays Sheer Skin Tint (I’m in between Shade 4 and 5), Caliray Freedreaming Blurring Skin Tint (I wear Shade 6), Tower 28 SunnyDays SPF30 (I wear 35 Point Dume), and the Too Faced Born This Way Healthy Glow Skin Tint (I wear Warm Beige).

I like the Too Faced the best.

Best Summer Makeup

9) How are you liking Botox now that you’ve tried it? Will you do it again?

I love it. I’m glad I finally did it. I’m still terrified of needles but I know it’s something I can manage. Trolls have been telling me to fix my face for years – well I finally fixed it. It’s not the reason I did it though, it’s been on my list for years. I just nearly pass out at the thought of needles. If you want more I’ve saved the details to my BOTOX Instagram Highlights.

For those who don’t use Instagram I had a Botox injection for the first time ever at age 42. The areas that were done included my forehead and 11s with nearly 40 units. We went to @marissathepa for our first Botox injection ever and I highly recommend her. Andrew got Botox too!

I have been overwhelmed with the positive feedback! So many of you were cheering me on! I am really touched that many of you shared your personal experiences, procedures, frequency, pricing etc. It still makes me a little sad that this is something many of you are not comfortable sharing or talking about openly because of negative judgement from others.

We were both very happy with the results, the feeling and sensation just takes getting used to. The first two weeks I could not move my forehead and it was so relaxed I felt like I had to strain to open my eyes a little. Feedback from many of you was to get 30 units next time for more movement. My deep set lines disappeared on my forehead and in the 11 area.

The one month mark will be this Saturday and I’ll do my next update then. I’m not sure if we will be doing this every 3 or 6 months. Some say they can do it 1x per year. Many of you messaged me that it only lasts 3 months for most of you. If you have any questions please feel free to email or DM me.

10) Best new beauty buy/launch of 2023?

Another tough one! If you count Botox as a beauty buy I think that was my best purchase this year. For new launches I have been really impressed with the La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream. They reformulated it this year and it’s been my absolute favorite skincare item. I still have some left of the original formula and definitely notice the new one absorbs better into the skin, feels better and just overall works better.

La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream, The Concentrate and The Eye Concentrate

For something that is TRULY new (as in not a reformulation or repromote) I love the Tom Ford Eyeshadow Palette in Golden Hour. I have not reviewed/swatched it but you can see it in action here. I also think the Dior Solar Body Oil is just beautiful.

Summer Makeup Essentials

Dior Solar Body Oil

The new Armani Luminous Silk Glow Blush is one of the best blush formulas I’ve tried. I have Shade 51 in action here. I just bought a few more. It has a soft buildable texture with the best natural kind of glow.

Armani Luminous Silk Glow Blush

That wraps up this week’s Ask Sabrina! If you have any more let me know in the comments or you can always email me!

Ask Sabrina

Ask Sabrina | Part 3

February 1, 2021

Ask Sabrina Part 3 Cameras, Equipment and Editing Tools | The Beauty Look Book

Today have my Ask Sabrina Part 3! I’m sharing more about my cameras, photography tips and tools I use! I’ve always loved snapping photos – even from a young age. I do not have a professional background in photography. Most of what I do has been through experimentation and learning through YouTube videos. My younger brother has a BFA from an art university and studied photography for a part of his schooling so he helps with some of my questions and gives me tips sometimes. This is by no means a list of the best tools – it’s just a look at what I use and have tried.

For those who have asked for a comprehensive list of my equipment and more, I hope you find this helpful!

Ask Sabrina Part 3 Cameras, Equipment and Editing Tools | The Beauty Look Book

1. What camera do you use?

My current camera is the Sony a7RIII. I bought this in November 2020 after my other camera stopped working. I had the Sony a7RII since around 2015 and I still think it’s an excellent camera – after many years of use and accidentally dropping it a few times the shutter stopped working.

My main lens is the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM. I also have a B + W 82mm XS-Pro Clear MRC Nano #007M Filter on my lens. I occasionally shoot with a Sony 55mm but prefer the zoom style lens even though prime lenses are better for what I do.

2. What do you think Sony vs Canon, Nikon, Leica etc?

I’ve stuck with Sony because it’s what I used from my early blogging days and it is what I am familiar with. My first serious camera was the Sony NEX-6 (discontinued) which I loved! The current versions have improved significantly with better technology and more features. I would eventually like to try other brands but it will take quite an investment for the body, lens, etc. so I’m holding off for now. I have tried Canon (loved my brother’s 5D) and a few Leica models.

3. What equipment do you use to take your photos? Tripod, reflectors, light modifiers etc.?

Tripod, Reflectors, Cameras, Equipment and Editing Tools | The Beauty Look Book

I think many of you will be surprised to learn that my equipment is very basic! There is so much I have on my wishlist to buy for taking better photos. I use natural light with an on-camera flash. I don’t have any light modifiers but really want and need to invest in some. I shop primarily at B&H Photo, Adorama and Amazon for my equipment and tools.

  • Main cameraSony a7RIII with the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens
  • Small vlog cameraSony ZV-1 (I have the bundle with the grip tripod)
  • Camera tripod – I have one main tripod which is the Manfrotto 190 3-Section Aluminum Tripod, I bought this many years ago and it was such a big investment I haven’t tried anything else since. I like it because it’s sturdy enough to hold a heavy camera + lens. However for me it’s not really easy to change angles or rotate quickly. It’s also fairly heavy so it is not travel-friendly. If you need something stable and don’t plan on moving your camera around a lot for different angles it’s great!
  • iPhone tripod – I bought the UBeesize Selfie Stick Tripod based on raves from a few girls I follow on Instagram and I kinda hate it. It works but I find it very flimsy and lightweight, it does work to hold my iPhone and it is extremely inexpensive but I’m not a fan.
  • Reflectors – I have two reflectors that I use to bounce light off of. I like this 32” Glow Portable 5-in-1 Reflector Kit from Adorama (available in multiple sizes). I also bought a larger 42” Raya 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector Disc from B&H Photo. I use these at primarily at home. When I’m traveling it’s usually just me and Andrew – we don’t have a third pair of hands to help us hold the reflector.
  • C-Stand – I have one stand which is a Flash Point 10’ C Stand from Adorama. I really like it because it has a super sturdy base that doesn’t move and it’s well made. I haven’t used it for much other than my reflectors but I have the arm grips and attachments for other items.
  • Lights – I have two small lights from Apurture that I just started playing around with, the Apurture MC RGBWW LED Light is a great little tool that you can use for a portable light. I like that you can control the brightness and color. The battery does run out fast if you have it at the max output. But I like the concept and the fact that it is portable!
  • Flash – I use the Sony HVL-F60RM Wireless Radio Flash on my camera
  • SD Card – when I used the Sony a7RII I used the SanDisk Extreme PRO Memory Cards with 170 MB/s, now that I have the Sony a7RIII it has two card reader slots that are different and I now use the Sony SF-G Tough Series UHS-II SDXC Memory Card.
  • Accessories

4. Where do you get your backgrounds?

White paper background for product shots

BTS look at one of my shoots for Bite Beauty from their Amuse Bouche launch many years ago

I pick up colored paper backgrounds from a local art store. I’ve had a Blick Art Store near me in both San Diego and Tampa. I usually pick up foam boards or color paper for backgrounds there. For my white background I’ve used the Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Smooth Pad, it has a bright surface with a thick texture that is sturdy and smooth. It reflects sunlight and flash well for me. It’s what I use for taking sunlit photos.

5. Who takes your photos? Do you take them yourself or do you have a photographer take your face/outfit shots?

Sony Image Edge Mobile app

I take most of my own photos. For my own face photos and product shots where I’m holding something I use my iPhone as a remote that I connect to my Sony camera through the Image Edge Mobile app. You can adjust and control the camera settings right from the app too! It’s really useful and allows you to transfer images to a computer or phone. It also doubles as a remote. When using the connect to smartphone remote feature you can see the image you’re shooting on your screen. Ideally I would also have an external monitor or tether the camera to an iPad or laptop. But I am a super minimalist and just haven’t taken the time to buy more tools. I do have an equipment purchase list that is ongoing. The options are overwhelming but I’ve found a lot of YouTube videos helpful.

For outfit or travel photos Andrew takes my photos. He has helped me with some photos for a few projects at home too. I think he’s better at taking my photos, but the process is time consuming and he still has his own job/firm to run.

Here are some photos I took myself with a tripod + remote:

Volition Beauty Turmeric Brightening Polish Skincare Review | The Beauty Look Book

Armani Luminous Silk Concealer 6.5

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray

Everyday makeup favorites

Versus some of the photos Andrew took for me below:

Anthropologie Cloudfleece Top, STS Blue Shorts, Tory Burch Crossbody


Spring Outfit Favorites Chloe Mini Marcie Tan

Senreve Mini Maestra Review | The Beauty Look Book

Vacation casual outfit, Jcrew Pale Blue Tank, 7 For All Mankind Cutoff shorts, Chloe Mini Marcie Bag

Glowing Makeup Looks with Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Lip Glosses Sephora | The Beauty Look Book

6. How do you edit your photos?

BTS Louboutin Hawaii

Quick look at one of my favorite projects for Louboutin Beauty! Setup in progress in the above photo, one of the final edits below

I edit most of my photos (as in 90%+) in Photoshop on my desktop computer. As much as I would like to do everything on my phone it’s just better for me to do it on a computer for better quality. If I’m posting a video for stories I’ll use the Tezza App.

7. Best photo editing apps? What app has the best presets?

Storyluxe App

My favorite photo editing apps are Afterlight, Snapseed and the Tezza app. I’ve bought so many presets from a number of influencers and quite frankly most of them do not work for me. The only one I love and use is the Tezza app! It has presets and also has options for you to customize your edits on your own – with or without filters. I love that her app also allows you to edit videos.

For Instagram stories and templates I love Storyluxe.

8. What’s your favorite style of photography?

I think I have a number of favorites! My earliest photographs were all product photos mainly shot in direct sunlight with a flash, often on a pure white background. I would love to take all my product photos this way but like to mix things up. I’ve tried to mix in a bit more lifestyle and application photos versus just product photos.

In Florida the heat gets so intense I often get sunburned and products can melt quickly. I could shoot indoors and mimic sunlight with lights but I don’t have any (yet).

9. Tips for better photos?

I think having good light is the best thing you can do for better photos! But the rest is more personal. Do you like sharp photos? Something with a grain? Edited with a filter? Reduced saturation? Sunlit or natural light? I think it is really a matter of personal preference!

I did ask my brother for his opinion on how I could improve my photos many years ago (aside from professional lighting, or better camera settings, or learning how to shoot in RAW) and he said it is actually the small things that can improve photos. Taking extra time for a proper setup is key. He showed me some examples of professional beauty ads and said the setup can be sometimes hours!

Little things like cleaning up dust (with a small dust blower like the one in this Zeiss Lens Kit) can help make your product photos look better. Wiping smudges from compacts or removing splash water marks from mirrors helps. A lot of times it is hard to see the small details in the viewfinder and I don’t catch it until after I’ve taken a batch of photos. You can edit out small dust particles or smudges with the spot healing tool in photoshop and a lot of apps like Snapseed also have this feature. I don’t have perfect photos, I still have smudges, finger prints, hair, dust etc on my compacts and mirrors. My lighting isn’t always consistent since it is natural light which changes depending on time of day, weather conditions, season and even time of year!

YouTube is the great resource for improving photos and learning new things. The best way to take improve photos is to problem solve specific things. Asking yourself more targeted questions will help you improve. For example do you want your photos to be sharper? Maybe you have camera shake so add a tripod, or try a different lens or different camera settings! Looking for brighter photos? Look for tutorials on how to change your settings on manual, also sometimes things can be fixed in editing! Are you looking for tips on posing or ideas for props? Are you looking for some more creative inspiration? There are lots of resources other creative minds have put together.

Sony a7RII vs a7RIII vs ZV-1

10. Best camera for beginners?

This is a tough one because it really depends on what you want to do, for example are you looking for video or photography? For photography do you want to take photos of products, faces, outfits, or something else? There’s no one size fits all but I do think the Sony A6400 is a great versatile camera! The best way to find the right camera for you is YouTube – there are tons of videos on every camera imaginable with side by side comparisons for different subjects, light scenarios etc.

That wraps my camera and photography Q&A part one! I know some of you have more detailed questions and you can feel free to leave them below! But hope this is a good starting point for those curious about the basics and my equipment.


Ask Sabrina

Ask Sabrina | Part 2

January 17, 2021

Top Hair Care Loves Oribe, Olaplex and Christophe Robin

Welcome to my Ask Sabrina series Part 2! This week I’d love for you to share your answers to these questions in the comments so I can learn more about you as well!

1. What are your holy grail hair care items? Hair care routine?

My most recent Current Haircare Routine is rounded up here. If I had to pick my top 5 brands they would be: Oribe, Hair Rituel by Sisley, Olaplex, Living Proof and Dyson Hair.

Hair care depends so much on hair type, thickness and whether or not you have color-treated hair. I’m still in the process of growing out my highlights. You can see the first time I color-treated my hair in this post. Now that I’m growing out the bleached ends I would say my absolute top 5 must-haves are the Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo, Olaplex No 5 Conditioner, Sisley Hair Oil, Oribe Detangling Spray, Moroccanoil Treatment.

For hair tools I just got the Dyson Airwrap Styler for Christmas and am absolutely obsessed. I think it’s the best hair dryer and curler in one that I have ever used. Working on a review + demo for you and hoping it restocks soon!

Hair Care Essentials for Smooth Blow Out

2. What’s your educational background?

I have a BBA from the University of San Diego and an MBA from San Diego State University. I studied business administration and political science in undergraduate school. For some time I had considered going to art school for photography or graphic design and I spent my freshman year attending 2 schools: one for my business degree, the other at a local community college for art classes to build my portfolio. My parents encouraged me to pursue my passion for the arts but I felt like it would not be an easy career. I decided to go the business school route instead.

I worked in the corporate world for 2 ½ years before applying for grad school. I went to San Diego State for my MBA and it was one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had!

3. What did you do in your career before you blogged full time?

I’ve worked as a financial analyst in a number of different industries. My first job out of college was at JP Morgan Chase – I worked in auto finance. Over the next several years I also worked in the mortgage industry, pharmaceutical world and also in commercial aerospace. Early in my career the best way to advance was to find new opportunities every few years at different companies that were either looking to grow or start new divisions.

Another thing many of you don’t know is that while I was in grad school, I worked part time in retail at Williams-Sonoma. It was a great experience and I had so much fun there so I kept working there after I graduated. Even after I found a full-time corporate job I stayed on for a couple more years. For several years I had a full-time corporate job, a part-time job and was trying to grow my blog. These were definitely some of my most stressful years but I know I was not alone. I worked alongside many others working multiple jobs while going to school as well.

Eventually realized I couldn’t do it all and keep my sanity, so I focused on my corporate job with blogging on the side. I learned a lot in that time – developed valuable relationships and friendships too. Different experiences both good and bad help you develop and grow.

4. Are APLs worth it? Can we see your collection?

APL Techloom Breeze, Cotton Citizen Sweatshirt, Lululemon Align Leggings

Above wearing APL TechLoom Breeze (color is Beach), Lululemon Align 25 Length Leggings, Cotton Citizen Hoodie, Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustre in Pillow Talk

Yes I think they are 100% worth it! My bestie and a number of readers had been raving about them and finally convinced me to try them. I love them for everyday wear, for weight training, and long extended walks. I am not a runner so I can’t really say how they hold up for runs. (I’ve never liked running no matter how much I’ve tried). My favorite style is the Techloom Breeze for comfort. Quick rundown of my favorites:

  • TechLoom Breeze is the most comfortable for my feet
  • TechLoom Pro has the most support, the shoe is more structured and has a more cushioned/stiffer sole
  • TechLoom Wave is more roomy in the front compared to the other two, the back is more elastic on the heel/ankle portion
  • TechLoom Tracer is the most structured and has a tighter fit around the top area of the foot – opening is smaller than the other styles so it hugs the foot/ankle more closely

For the other styles my bestie has the TechLoom Bliss and says they are like walking on clouds! My hubby says the TechLoom Phantom is his favorite style for the fit (they stretch nicely according to him) and he likes the look.

They run similar in sizing to Nike. In most shoes I’m a 6.5 to 7. In sneakers I’m almost always a 7 or 37 – I wear this size in both Nike and APL. I usually buy them from Athletic Propulsion Labs online. I’ve also ordered from Shopbop or Revolve. They’re easy to clean – I throw them in the washer and air dry them.

APL Sneaker Favorites SABRINA

5. How do you efficiently go through all your products?

The short answer is that I don’t. As a blogger I encounter a lot of products and new launches for testing and reviewing. It is not humanly possible to use up everything before its expiration date. For many years this stressed me out because of the waste. But I started this blog to be a resource whether it’s through a review, swatches or makeup looks. My main goal is to help you and others with the swatches and comparisons so as long I’m still good a resource I’ve achieved my main goal. I don’t review or try everything that is sent my way. I filter out products based on what I find the most interesting or what you’ve asked to see reviewed. I also still purchase product on my own that I don’t receive in PR and sometimes I don’t get to everything in a timely manner. Unused products that haven’t expired are either donated or gifted away to friends and family. Pre-covid times I also gifted away a lot of products to my readers in giveaways.

I do tend to use up a lot more skincare and hair care than I do for makeup. I share a lot of my skincare products with Andrew too so we tend to use them up frequently. Hair care is something I go through a lot of naturally. I’m one who has to wash their hair daily especially with sweating from workouts and Florida humidity. With the cooler weather during the winter though I will sometimes go up to 2 days without washing my hair as long as I don’t have a heavy workout.

6. Has your husband always been into taking care of his skin or did you have to convince him?

I feel lucky that Andrew has always had a really good skincare and grooming routine. I’m especially grateful after hearing from my girl friends who cry about the fact they cannot get their husbands to put moisturizer on their face at all! In more recent years I feel like he has been the one to influence me to take better care of myself in terms of health, strength, having a better diet and more.

7. How do you keep your house so clean? How do you have the discipline to vacuum daily? How do you prevent pets from ruining your furniture?

Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Vaccum

We clean our house daily because with multiple pets we have to. Lucy is a Jack Russell with a long rough coat and Calvin is a Ragdoll with long hair. They both shed and are pretty active so cleaning daily is essential. Right now we vacuum daily with our Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Vacuum Cleaner. We also give the floors a thorough wet clean around 2x per month which takes hours but I just discovered the Bissell Symphony Vacuum and Steam Mop – I partnered with HSN to show a demo of it on my Instagram stories it’s on sale at a special price at 1/17/2020 only – you can see more on stories @beautylookbook before it expires at the 24 hour mark! In case you miss it I will save it to my Instagram HOME highlights for the mini review/demo.

My main secret to a clean house is Andrew. He’s the clean one and meticulous about keeping the house tidy. For our furniture we are lucky our pets are well behaved. Lucy doesn’t bite or dig at the furniture. Our cat only claws his cat tree so we don’t have any issues with our chairs or couches.

8. How do you feel about Botox, fillers, injectables, etc?

Botox is on my list of things to do this year. I’m terribly afraid of needles which is why I haven’t tried it yet but I’ve told myself THIS IS THE YEAR. Many of you have emailed me about Botox with encouragement and support about this. For that I am thankful! I have seen it work wonders on my friends and they have assured me it’s not painful.

I don’t know much about the other kinds of procedures – I have nothing against them, but since I already have full lips and feel like I will pass out at the sight of a needle they aren’t on my list to try yet. One of my friends gets lip injections to plump her lips and she usually has bruising for a couple of days. I think she is beautiful without the fillers but if it makes her feel better and she likes it I’m all for supporting her!

9. How old are you?

I am 39.

10. What’s your next handbag purchase?

I have so many on my wishlist! I’m trying to narrow down my next splurge but I think it will either be something from Celine (I have been eyeing the Pico Belt Bag) or Loewe (love the Mini Gate).

That wraps up round 2 of Ask Sabrina! I’d love to hear your answers to these same questions if you want to leave them in the comments! Also feel free to leave more questions below or you can email me.

Ask Sabrina

Ask Sabrina | Part 1

January 10, 2021

Ask Sabrina 1.10.2020 | The Beauty Look Book

I’m excited to start a new series called Ask Sabrina where I’ll be answering your frequently asked questions! I thought it would be a fun way to share more about myself and roundup the FAQs you’ve sent my way! Today I’m answering more personal questions to start but I’m open to other topics for future round ups! I have accumulated a long list already from recent polls so I have some I’ve saved for next week but feel free to leave more in the comments or you can always send me an email too.

Opening Image: Sweater Vince, Denim Mother, West Elm Side Table and Book Shelf, Article Boucle Chair, Dior Lip Maximizer in Ultra Pink, Dior Oblique Pouch, Perfume is Byredo Mojave Ghost

1. How long have you been blogging? How did you get started? Do you blog full time? Is blogging your career? What do you do in real life? How long did it take you to get noticed by brands? How many hours a day do you work on the blog?

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my story on how I started The Beauty Look Book. My first blog post was back in May 2009 and it started as a hobby while I was in graduate school. Karen of Makeup and Beauty Blog was looking for guest writers, I submitted an idea on Le Metier de Beaute, she accepted it and I had so much fun I started my own! The blog grew by word of mouth among other beauty junkies who loved luxury beauty or hard to find brands. At that time I didn’t know blogging could be a career let alone generate any revenue. I had no idea press samples existed either!

I didn’t start monetizing my blog until around 5 years later and it was only possible thanks to another blogger (Amy from @cafemakeup) who referred me to an affiliate network and helped me get approved. I had applied to a few over the years and every single brand rejected my application. At this time I was still working at a corporate job in finance and as the blog grew it began to take more and more of my time. It got to a point where I could not have work/life balance, but I was so passionate about the makeup I made it work. I’d wake up at 4 am to write articles, I’d rush home after work to take some photos before the sun went down, I’d blog on weekends and every waking moment! Once my blog generated enough income to surpass my corporate job earnings, I decided to leave my corporate job and blog full time. It took about 6 months of consistent earnings before I felt confident enough in myself to pursue blogging as a career. I talked it over with a few close friends and family before I made the leap. Most of them told me “don’t do it!” “you can’t leave your corporate job” and that I was making the biggest mistake of my life. I am 1000% happy I took that risk because I think it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It’s allowed me a lot of freedom and flexibility to be my own boss.

Working for myself has had its fair share of ups and downs. For me it was a risk worth taking. I am happy that this type of career has evolved over the past decade and is being recognized more as a legitimate career. Today brands, retailers, agencies and affiliate networks are more accessible to bloggers and influencers who want to partner and work together which I think is great! A lot of people still ask me “what do you do in real life?” and I think they forget that bloggers, influencers, YouTubers are still real people and that blogging, taking photographs, making videos, writing etc. is in fact “real life” for many of us.

I feel like I could write an entire series on my blogging experience! I’ll save more for another post.

2. What’s your favorite TV show?

The Office – best show of all time!

3. Favorite movie?

Tie between Elf and Love Actually

4. Favorite ice cream?

Jeni’s anything! My favorite flavors are Cream Puff and Brambleberry Crisp, although Andrew says Gooey Butter Cake is the best one, he actually ordered some individual gooey butter cakes after trying the ice cream lol!

5. Favorite handbag and why?

My favorite right now is the Goyard Cap Vert in black. It’s a versatile everyday bag and I love that it’s crossbody and small but not super mini. I still love my Tory Burch Perry Bombe Bag but it’s really small. Sometimes it’s nice to have a bit more room which is why I love the Goyard. You can see what fits inside in this reel @beautylookbook.

Below wearing: ATM School Boy Tee and Agolde Parker Shorts, Celine sunglasses

Goyard Cap Vert Bag | The Beauty Lookbook

6. What kind of camera do you use to shoot all your photos?

I’ve used the Sony a7RII for years and really love it! I just recently replaced it with the Sony a7RIII which has a lot more features and really like it as well. For the lens I mainly use the FE 24-70 mm/2.8 lens. For videos and vlogging (which I haven’t published any videos yet) I’ve been playing with the new Sony ZV-1 and I really love it. I mainly buy my equipment (cameras, lens, stands, flash attachments etc.) from B&H, Adorama or Amazon.

Sony a7RII and III | The Beauty Look Book

7. What does your husband do? How did you meet? Can you show us your husband?

Andrew and I met nearly 20 years ago! We were both attending different colleges in San Diego at the time and we met on a study abroad trip in Oxford, England. He was one of the TAs, I was one of the students. We started dating several months later after and we’ve been together ever since! I guess you could call us college sweethearts. After college he went on to pursue a law degree and now practices family law. I would love for him to be a full time Instagram husband (which he probably thinks he already is). He’s made a few appearances in my stories and also this reel and this one too.

Andrew and Sabrina

8. As a Florida transplant, how do you feel about Florida? Do you miss California? Will you ever move back? Are you planning on staying in Florida long term?

Both Andrew and I love Florida. I am surprised it has grown on me over the past three years given how attached I was to life in San Diego, California but Florida definitely feels like home now. When we first moved here I was so homesick I cried myself to sleep every night for nearly 3 months. But we’ve found a lot to love here. We love the weather (heat, humidity, rain and all), the people, the beaches, the casual laid back atmosphere and the sunshine. I do miss California a lot and I’ve only been back a couple times to see family and friends. Right now we don’t know if we will move back or stay here. So much has changed in the past year we really don’t know what the future holds – but we are very happy living in St. Petersburg, Florida!

9. Biggest changes in beauty habits during quarantine, if any? Any changes in purchases, beauty routine, or what you decide to wear?

The biggest changes for me have been what I wear (or don’t wear) on my lips outside. Lip gloss is a disaster with face masks! I still wear lip balm or a matte liquid lipstick if I have to wear a mask. Lip Balm has been an essential for me, without it my lips dry out and start peeling. As long as it’s not super sticky or thick it still works for me (I like the Fresh Sugar Advance Therapy Lip Treatment). Stores and malls have opened up here in Florida but you still cannot touch the testers so I tend to order things online more often. It feels safer to me anyways to order online versus going to the mall, even with social distancing. I’ve also been more aware of acne prevention and hyperpigmentation from acne scarring. I wash my face more often. I have to be super careful of acne where the mask covers my face. I feel like I’ve been using spot treatments more often than I have in the past!

10. What is an interest or hobby you have that would surprise us?

I think a lot of you might be surprised I’m into fitness and weight lifting!

That wraps up my first Ask Sabrina round up! Happy for any feedback or if you want to send more questions feel free to leave them in the comments or email them to me. If you can put in the subject line Ask Sabrina Series suggestion or something along those lines it will help me filter and sort them! Let me know if you think 10 is a good number of if you want more questions answered per week! Topics can be anything! If there is enough interest in a blogging/social media topic I might dedicate an entire post or few series of posts.


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