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What's In My Bag

What’s In My Bag

April 9, 2017

What's In My Bag | The Beauty Look Book

It’s been a little over a month since we moved to Florida and I cannot believe how fast time flies! I’ve been sharing snippets of our weekly explorations of Tampa on Instagram Stories and I’m touched by those who’ve sent kind words of support and even restaurant recommendations. This move has been such a huge change for me as I’ve lived in California most of my life. Living in the south is such a new and different experience but change can be good and my husband and I are loving it so far. Yesterday I shared a quick what’s in my bag video on Instagram – I received so much positive feedback I thought I’d do a post on it in case you missed it. One thing that has surprised us about Tampa is that the city seems a lot bigger and more spread out than we expected. On days (primarily weekends) where we are out and about it feels like we are out for extended periods of time and because of this I’ve found it necessary to pack an extra set of clothes in the trunk since temperatures can change a lot. I’ve also had to pack some extra things in my bag since making a quick trip home isn’t always an efficient option time-wise.

I do switch up my bag contents frequently and I don’t always carry this much with me but let’s call this my weekend out and about edition of what’s inside my bag. A look at what was inside my Neverful MM bag yesterday:

Inside My Bag Truffle Pouches | The Beauty Look Book

So up first are some tech things. By popular request I’ll be doing an updated camera post on what I use to shoot my blog photos. I did one a few years ago but have since acquired a couple more cameras. My long-time favorite was the Sony NEX-6 but it was discontinued. It has held up for a long time and I love it but unfortunately dropped it and broke the lens. It is an easy replacement but since newer models have come out, I decided to try the Sony Alpha 5100 because it has a flip screen and a slightly smaller body. Review on this soon, but first impressions are that I like the design and features of the NEX-6 a lot better because of the viewfinder, dial and option for external flash. (The current version is the Alpha 6000.) Another camera I’ve used for a long time is the Canon G16, another model that has been discontinued. The more popular version which is the closest equivalent is the G7x Mark II which has the flip screen option for vlogging or selfies.

So inside my bag yesterday I carried two cameras to test outdoors. For my Sony I have an older leather camera case, similar options here and here. For my Canon I never bought a proper case. It usually stays in good condition if I put it inside my purse alone, but since I’ve been carrying more sunscreen and mini perfumes (to reduce swelling for bug bites if I get them), I try to protect it a bit more. I’ve found the Glossier bubble pouches are a cheap quick fix for now. Also inside my bag is a Gucci Card Case, iPhone case is from Gray Malin, sunglasses are by Marc Jacobs (currently 25% off at Nordstrom).

Inside My Bag, Sony Alpha 5100, Canon G16, Gucci Card Case | The Beauty Look Book

For body, skincare and makeup, I find that clear Truffle Pouches are essential to keeping everything organized. I tend to prefer open totes and have found that things can get cluttered and messy without dividers. I should invest in a separate purse insert/divider but for years I’ve loved the clear pouches for almost anything and everything.

Truffle Clarity Clutch Small and Mini | The Beauty Look Book

I have an older style of the Truffle Small Clarity Clutch (older ones had the red trim, current version has a white trim) to carry hand creams, skincare and sunscreen. In this weekend’s bag I had the Molton Brown Hand Cream in Pink Pepperpod, Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve (mini from this set), Fresh Sugar Sport Sunscreen (for my husband) and the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Spray with SPF50. I’ve still been putting a number of sunscreens to the test. I’ve found Shiseido comes highly recommended by a lot of my readers but I’ve never found a sunscreen I could convince myself to buy because the creams have a white cast. The spray version is clear and today it did a pretty good job at protecting me and by the end of the day I had no reaction or bumps like I get with most brands of sunscreen.

I also like to use the Truffle Mini Pouches because they’re more compact. Other items include the Commodity Travel Spray in Bergamot (thanks to some readers who recommended I try this brand!), Tatcha Blotting Papers, Armani Luminous Silk Powder Foundation (I’m still shade #4), Dior Addict Lip Glow Pomade, YSL Tint-in-Balm (swatched here), Tom Ford Lip Balm (review here) and Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist (travel size).

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my bag! So many of you were so sweet on my Instastories I wanted to share it in a blog post. If there’s anything else you want to see on Instagram let me know. I’m new to taking video clips but I’m having lots of fun with it. Some quick notes on what’s coming up soon on the blog: an updated skincare routine (since my skin has become a lot drier since moving to Florida), sunscreen roundup (might be another week though), some more Tom Ford goodness (new fragrance, a look at the Paradiso Eye Duo and thoughts on one of the body sprays), thoughts on the new MAC Next to Nothing foundation and some loves in body care/home. Basically a little bit of everything!

Since moving to Tampa from San Diego, both my husband and I have experienced dryness in skin and hair. We’re not really sure what the cause is as we expected to be more oily with the heat and humidity. We’ve both been drinking plenty of water, we’ve made an effort to have as little sun exposure as possible, but this is kinda impossible in Florida, we’ve been eating healthy – if you have any insight on what could be the cause let me know in the comments. I suspect it could be the difference in water, but we’re both baffled!

Press samples featured include the Tom Ford Lip Balm, Truffle Clarity Clutch (small, older style) and Molton Brown hand cream.


the beauty look book’s camera guide // 2014 edition

December 5, 2014

The most frequently asked questions I receive these days are about my photos, lighting setup and cameras. I’ve tested a couple that I’ve fallen in love with but haven’t tried a wide variety of cameras or brands so I don’t know that I can tell you what’s the best on the market or offer comparisons. The vast majority of the photos on this blog are taken by me, my photography techniques are a self-taught work in progress. I’ve been blogging for a little over five years – and I’m still learning new things every week. Today I’ll be sharing the cameras I use, but as many photographers will tell you, buying a certain camera won’t automatically translate into good or perfect photos. Mine certainly aren’t perfect by any means, but I do practice a lot and play with angles and lighting. Sometimes blog posts are photographed over the course of several days. While this isn’t the most efficient way to blog or photograph products, it’s my current method and works for me.

For me, the biggest challenge in photographing beauty products is capturing colors accurately. In addition, details like complex shimmers, reflections on lacquered compacts or patent finish packaging, glare from metallic packaging, and different texture are all things you need to work on in order to photograph things well. Many products are prone show finger print smudges so having a small cloth towel or paper towel handy is good to clean up any areas to make them look their best.

Bottom line for me is that when it comes to cameras right now, I’ve looked for affordable easy to use cameras that give you high quality photos but that won’t break the bank. I like ones that are easy to carry with me for on-the-go or travel. There are a lot of other good blog posts on higher end cameras, this one highlights what I use and like. 


On lighting: I would say about 95% of my photos are taken with natural light or direct sunlight. Having good light is key but you still need to deal with things like glare, light intensities and reflections. For additional light, I’ve experimented with a few bulbs but haven’t found anything I love yet. Knowing how to use your camera exposure and scene settings will make all the difference. If you’re a camera novice like me, I highly recommend this book Better Photo Basics by Jim Moitke. I bought it earlier this year and it helped me a lot as a simple and easy to understand guide.

On cameras: I’ll highlight three cameras I use for the blog along with another fun one I’ve featured several times in posts.

Camera 1: iPhone

I’ve used my iPhone for a number of blog photos. For product or styled shots, lighting isn’t always ideal so I like to use the Afterlight app to adjust brightness, contrast and highlighting. Getting a perfect square shot isn’t always easy with a hand-held phone (at least not for me) so I like the cropping tool too. Many of the photos in this post were taken with an iPhone camera. Photos can be hit and miss depending on lighting. With the iPhone camera you just don’t have as much control. Examples of more photos taken with the iPhone here, here, here and here. (Photo above is also taken with an iPhone.)

photo above taken with Canon G16


Camera 2: Sony NEX-6

I purchased the Sony NEX-6 early last year. I’ve always been a fan of Sony cameras for their compact sleek design and high quality photos. I purchased the NEX-6 shortly after it came out at around $800 but today the prices of cameras have become more affordable as new models are introduced. With Sony cameras, you can purchase the body and lenses separately to suit your needs. I bought the standard bundle that came with the 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens and have been very happy with it.

I like the focus features on this camera and the color correction features. It works really well with the flash, especially for swatches and product photos. I’m particularly fond of the electronic view finder too which is helpful if you’re in bright sun. The only thing I wish it had was a flip-out screen. The digital screen tilts which makes it easier to get weird angles or if you need to take aerial shots, but I do wish it would flip out completely.
A few examples of blog posts featuring photos taken with this camera include: this one, this one (with the help of my brother), and this one.

Since new models of cameras are being introduced constantly, note that you might not be able to find this one easily in stores anymore. I was told that the NEX family is being phased out and that the Alpha A6000 models have replaced the NEX series. Reviews report that this one is an upgrade to the NEX-6 but still extremely affordable. My curiosity wants to run and buy one of the Alpha models because I love Sony cameras so much, but I’m saving up for my next camera which is going to either be another Canon or Nikon.

above photos taken with Sony NEX-6
Camera 3: Canon G16

The Canon G16 is the second camera I’ve purchased for myself. The bulb in my Sony burst earlier this year and I had to send it in for several weeks to get it replaced. I couldn’t be without a camera for more than a few days so looked for a quick replacement. I did a lot of research online, I read a lot of reviews and watched quite a few videos on YouTube. I also asked for recommendations from my brother who knows a lot about photography and cameras. I told him I was looking for something that was under $1,000, compact, easy to use but with very good quality. He said hands down check out anything from Canon G series and I ordered the G16 from Amazon. It was under $500 (before tax) and it arrived at my house in two days. It was love at first shoot

After playing with this for a few months I can say that I am very impressed with this tiny little camera. This works very well without the flash and allows you full control of lighting and exposure settings. It has similar functions and features to the Sony, but the Canon does have more options to adjust for daylight, clouds, fluorescent lighting etc. The only downside for me so far is that it tends to darken my skin significantly when photographing swatches with a flash. Taking swatch photos with a flash needs a lot more work depending on what the natural light situation is.

I don’t do beauty videos, but I did do a test shoot with this camera at my last home. I was testing foundation colors and had a different shade on each side of my face. I wanted to see how it looked in different lighting so I filmed myself for about six minutes walking around the house holding the camera in hand. I was very impressed with the color, quality and the way the film turned out very steady. I expected it to be wobbly from all the movement but the camera automatically smoothed everything beautifully. I didn’t have any special lighting but the camera captured the light very well and adjusted as I walked into different areas of our home.
More blog posts with the Canon G16 camera here, here and here. Aside from swatch photographing challenges, I’m absolutely in love with this camera. You can get really sharp photos and the settings allow for full control of your exposure settings.

above photos taken with Sony NEX-6

I’ve featured this fun instant-print camera several times. It’s a compact camera that prints credit-card photos in polaroid style. There are several different brands that offer multiple models of instant print cameras. After researching online reviews, I picked the Instax 25 (I paid around $89 on Amazon for this one). If you want a slightly different model or one of the fun colors, opt for the Instax 8 (also available at J.Crew and Urban Outfitters). This post here outlines the differences between the Fujifilm models.

There is a learning curve with the Fujifilm. Photos won’t be perfect right off the bat. I would recommend purchasing extra film because each cartridge only gives you 10 photos. There is an automatic flash which you can’t turn off so it’s best to take photos in natural sunlight, although at night the flash is pretty good. Photos are best when taken from a distance, they will be blurry if you take close ups. For me, this one is mainly for fun people photos – it’s fun if you want to snap some in-the-moment photos or candids. Unfortunately my friends love this so much that I end up giving away most of my prints.

The quality isn’t the best, but I do think it’s pretty good given the price and size. To get better photos, you will need to look into larger cameras which I’ve found to be bulky.

above photo taken with Canon G16

If you’re in the market for a new camera and looking for some good introductory cameras that are affordable and not too bulky, but want good quality images, I’d recommend either the Sony or Canon. Both are very good brands that have good reviews all across the board. They are easy to use and are a lot of fun to play with. In terms of camera shopping, each of the brands mentioned above are available at multiple retailers. I’d recommend doing research online first. YouTube is a phenomenal tool. There are so many camera experts and fanatics who have put different models and brands to the test.
Quick recap of cameras featured:

I hope you found this camera roundup guide helpful!

What's In My Bag

Inside My Bag

November 29, 2014

Inside my Prada Saffiano tote (similar color here, similar style here):

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustres in Seduction and Sweet Stiletto (reviewed here)
Frederic Malle Travel Spray in Carnal Flower
Canon G16 Camera
Key ring and small wallet by Louis Vuitton

I’m a huge fan of the pouches and clutches by Truffle.
I have multiples now in different colors and styles and love how they really help keep
things streamlined and organized in my purses. They just released a few additions in Nude, Black and Rose Gold. They are a bit of a
splurge, but I feel they are well worth the price because they are well-made and very sturdy. Right now Truffle is offering 25% off your entire
purchase with code HOLIDAY25 at checkout (it ends on Monday December 1st).

The Privacy Clutches are also good for on-the-go. If you don’t want to lug around your purse and just want to carry the essentials, it will fit quite a bit but still keep everything streamlined (see what I fit in the Blush version back in August).

Sometimes I’ll carry multiples in my purses that don’t have compartments. They are pretty good at staying flat and keeping their shape so it keeps everything streamlined.

P.S. If you’re like me and have been eyeing Charlotte Tilbury items you might want to look into the holiday offer at Beautylish. They are offering a $20 gift card for every $100 you spend (also ends on Monday).

What’s in your bag right now? How do you keep your bag organized or streamlined. I usually tend to throw things in each day of the week so by the weekend it gets heavy and messy. Compartments help keep me organized but not all of my bags have separators.
Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and that you are enjoying the weekend! I spent the last 3 days sick in bed with a bad cold, but my fever broke and I am starting to feel more like myself this afternoon.

The Black Privacy Clutch was gifted by Truffle without charge, all other items purchased by me.

Monthly Beauty Favorites

August 31, 2014

I discovered quite a few new favorites in August it was difficult to narrow down my list to under 20 items. My Sony NEX-6L/B
just broke right after photographed my monthly favorites along with some new items from Tom Ford Fall and Edward Bess. It will take 2-3 weeks for me to get it back after it goes to the repair center. As a blogger and photographer, I really should have more than one camera for times just like this. I called up my brother to ask for a camera recommendation. I wanted something that was super easy to use, easy to hold, affordable and compact. He said hands down buy something from the Canon G Series – after doing a few hours of research and watching several videos, I ordered a Canon PowerShot G16 as my second camera. I took my first photos with it for the Tom Ford Black Cherry post and am so impressed with the image quality and functions. Many of you have asked me for more info on my cameras, as soon as the Sony gets back from repair, I’ll do a post on both to compare. If you have any camera favorites I’d love to hear what you love. I hope to upgrade to an SLR by the end of the year.

Onto my favorites for the month of August:

  1. Truffle Privacy Clutch in Blush has become a favorite for a classic, sleek and compact clutch. It’s super sturdy and extremely well made. Use code LABORDAY for free US shipping through Monday. (Review and more photos here.)
  2. Clare Vivier Wallet Clutch is another new favorite, it’s the compact version (measures 8″ x 5″) of their regular Flat Clutch (measures 11.5″ x 7″) making it perfect as a change purse that will also hold a lipstick, business cards, and keys. 
  3. West Elm Acrylic Trays are a new discovery for me. I’ve been a huge fan of their Lacquer Trays (we have them all over the house). I’m thrilled West Elm made one that is high quality at an affordable price. Huge thumbs up (they come in the square and rectangle options).
  4. YSL Volupté Sheer Candy has been a go-to this summer, I almost always have one in my bag or purse with me. (Review on new shades here.)
  5. Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black is a favorite darker scent. It will be perfect as we transition to fall and suitable to wear through winter. (Full review here.)
  6. YSL Gris Deco has been the most commented-on polish I’ve worn all month. It was amazing how many people asked me “what nail polish are you wearing?” It has this unique mix of blue in it to make you wonder if it’s blue, grey or white. I love it for a super polished look that’s not too pale. (Swatches and review here.)
  7. Diptyque Figuier is one of my favorite Diptyque scents. I never tire of it no matter what the season is. I’m particularly fond of it in fall/winter. It’s a warming soothing scent that completely lifts one’s mood. It’s super relaxing and lush. (Cleaning and recycle tutorial here, find the 411 on size options here.)
  8. Tom Ford Eyeshadow Quad in Nude Dip sold out online within a few hours, I still haven’t seen it pop up on Nordstrom or Bloomingdales yet, there is a possibility some other retailers might re-stock. You will have to do a bit of calling around to locate one but it’s definitely worth the extra effort. I’d recommend calling Neiman Marcus Fashion Island or Beverly Hills to see if they have any left. (Review soon.)
  9. Guerlain Cils D’Enfer Waterproof Mascara is something I’ve been obsessed with for a few months now. I discovered this one thanks to The RaeViewer’s channel (if she loves it, I usually end up loving it too). It really stays put, doesn’t smudge, has a deep lush black finish and doesn’t make the lashes look crunchy. (My review here.)
  10. Garance Doré x Rifle Paper is one of the cutest collections I’ve seen for stationary. I love the chic designs, they have cards that are really fun. They make great gifts, I know my friends have loved the notepads and birthday cards. 
  11. L’Occitane Hand Cream Pouch has been selling out very quickly (it’s a steal!), I managed to buy three sets when they restocked a couple weeks ago, it looks like it just sold out again, but I recommend you keep checking, I expect they will restock again.
  12. Clé de Peau Beauté Almond Concealer is an exact match for me. I’m thrilled they expanded their color options. I hope they do the same for foundations as well, I just tested a couple and fell head over heels with two of the formulas (my wallet is crying now). (Swatches here.)
  13. Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow has been a staple duo this month. The line will launch in a few days in the US. (I’m so excited!) I am still photographing the two sets I ordered from the UK. Reviews will be posted as soon as possible.
  14. Edward Bess Illuminating Eyeshadow Base is one of my holy grail eye bases. (My thoughts here and here.)
  15. Kat Von D Ink Liner has seriously made my life easier when it comes to liquid liner. (Review here.) You can’t beat the ease of use, color, pigment, and quality at an affordable price.
  16. NARS Audacious Lipstick in Raquel is my new favorite nude pink. It’s literally everything I have ever wanted for that perfect nude pink lip color. I can’t always pull off nudes on the lips because they often look so pale. This one is absolutely perfect. It’s a good nude pink that doesn’t wash out the complexion. (Swatches here.)

What have been your favorites this past month?

A Few Questions Answered

April 27, 2011
What kind of camera do you use? I use a Sony Cyber-Shot Carl Zeiss 8.1 Mega Pixel digital camera, I’m not sure of the exact model but the top says DSC-N1. The lense says 2,8-5,4/7,9-23,7. It was given to me as a gift around 2005. Update – all photos are taken with either the auto or forced flash settings. Photoshop is used for all photo editing. As many have noted, you don’t need a super expensive camera to take decent photos! Play with lighting, angles, zooming – the fun is in the experimentation.

What’s your favorite brand? I don’t have one favorite, but these are my current top picks: Chanel, Dior, Edward Bess, NARS.

Can you post pictures of your eye makeup? I’ve tried numerous times and they just don’t turn out so great. So, no, sorry.

Have you written your update on Chanel Vitalumière Aqua? Yes. See it here. It’s no replacement for Teint Innocence, but it’s the next best thing in my opinion. I am still crying over the discontinuation of Chanel’s Teint Innocence Liquid Foundation. I’ve stocked up on 4 back up bottles.

How do you find the right nail polish for your skintone? My answer is two-fold. 1) I don’t think there is a right or wrong color for skintone, it’s just a matter of personal preference 2) My personal preference is subject to occasion, mood and mostly a matter of being brave to try almost anything (except certain green, blue and yellow). But then I could be completely wrong in what I like. I’ve definitely had occasions I’ve fallen in love with a color to be told by close ones I trust, “that’s not good with your skintone.”

How do you like Edward Bess Daydream Bronzer? I feel like a broken record saying this yet again, but it is my holy grail of bronzers. If you do a blog search, you will find a number of features, swatches and reviews on this beauty. Note I am a Southern California girl who loves the sun and always prefers to be tan. My personal style is natural but for bronzer I will do anything from a soft to a dramatic bronzer. I don’t stick to one look for anything, bronzer included. The Edward Bess bronzers are extremely versatile and layerable.

Is the EB Daydream better than the new bronzers from Chanel or Dior? I cannot say whether I think one is better than the other – they are all unique and different in their own way. I find EB Daydream is my go-to staple (my personal current favorite) but the Chanel and Dior are equally gorgeous. I do personally believe the Daydream is more universally flattering for fair to medium skintones. Everyone has a different preference for what they envision the perfect bronze to look like, I cannot tell what will look best on you, I only know Edward Bess’ Daydream looks good on everyone I’ve seen it on (I’ve probably observed it on about 10 different faces). This is not to say the EB Daydream is better or the best. I think there are a number of other great bronzers out there. I lived on NARS Laguna through my college days and still love it. MAC Golden and Bronze are fabulous natural looking bronzers that are soft and glowy (and very affordable). Armani has great bronzers. Right now my favorite is the Edward Bess.

Can you link my blog and/or website or can I write a guest post for you? At this time I do not take guest posts and I like to keep my blog advertising free other than consumer to consumer. I will link outside of my blog when I feel it is relevant to what I am writing about. I do not appreciate aggressive bloggers who pressure me to link them. This is one reason why I do not publish comments with spam links.

Do you receive special perks or treatment for being a blogger? No, I do not. I’ve only told a very small handful of people who I am (literally less than I can count on my fingers). They kindly respect my privacy. For PR lists, I think I’m on a total of only 4, which may be surprising to many of you. I have not actively requested to be added to PR lists. I’ve been invited to a small select few and of those few, I am very selective (you will note if you search hard through my blog I have only featured 2 items that were sent for review).

I’m a new blogger, can you check out my blog and tell me what to change and how to get more traffic? First, welcome to the blogging world! Second I think all of us always wonder about hits and web traffic. I’m not one who has really figured it out. Patience is key and I will say if you’re mostly concerned about traffic you’re starting off on the wrong foot. Third, I’m flattered you would ask for my opinion about your blog – but I believe blogging is a personal process you need to discover on your own. Even after a couple months, many are impatient wanting to get it perfect right away. Appreciate that you are doing something creative on your own and be original. Don’t try to mimic someone else. Almost 2 years later, I’m still developing my own blogging style.

Can you show more pictures of your dogs? It’s hard to get both my JRTs to sit still together in one spot. I would love more photos of my pups, but I tend to get pictures of only one at a time. They just have way too much excitement! Here’s one with their baby from several years ago. His first baby steps.

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