Sabrina De Sousa, Co-Owner, Dimes


"I grew up in Jersey—Newark; I’m sure you know the airport. But I’ve always had a relationship with the City—I went to Hunter College. But for the past 10 years, I’ve just been doing a lot of traveling. I spent three months in Southeast Asia, six months in Barcelona…Morocco, everywhere. Through that I’ve developed this love for food from every different part of the world, including Brazil, where my parents are from. That’s why the acai bowls are on the menu at Dimes,because I grew up eating those every time I would go. I’ve also regularly worked in restaurants, so food was always a huge interest. Two years ago my business partner and I went to Patagonia and we were complaining about how awful the food was there. It was winter, so everything was imported—just scarce and not fresh. When we came back we were just like, ‘Why don’t we open something with food that we like to eat?’ and we just went for it.

It was originally going to be a juice bar, but grew into sort of an apothecary and a café as well, because the neighborhood wanted food. But the juice bar was my whole thing, because I’ve taken a lot of herb classes and I make my own tinctures, which are herbal extracts. It started off as a hobby, but then I started giving them to my friends and they were like, ‘You need to start making this stuff and packaging it.’ So I did. To make a tincture you basically apply alcohol—I’ve been using vodka—and distilled water to herbs and let it sit for about three months. It’s good to harvest them, which means pressing and extracting the herb from the liquid, in the new moon for gravitational purposes. Each herb has a different ratio of alcohol and water because each herb extracts differently. I have a book that helps me figure it all out.

I like to focus on making ones that help balance my hormones and relieve stress. I have one called Holy Basil, which is good for stress. It’s a sacred Indian herb. I’m obsessed, and give it to all the girls at work. I’ll drink it in a little bit of water and I also have droppers of it. I buy the basil from Rose Mountain Herbs in Oregon. That’s actually where I source everything for the apothecary. They’re really amazing. There is a tincture with Black Cohosh, which is an estrogen balancer, so it’s good for women. I have an irregular menstrual cycle so this is really good to take on and off, but definitely don’t take it when you’re pregnant. That and motherwort have really balanced me out. There’s also maca root powder, which everybody loves. It’s like happy pills—a really serious mood lifter.

My approach to beauty is to keep it simple. I use all-natural and organic stuff. And I just really like what I make, like the rosewater spray; I apply that to my face every day. Dimes sells that and a salt scrub, which both came out of sheer boredom. I went to the beach with a friend one day and I was like, ‘I really need a salt scrub right now,’ and then I realized, ‘You know what? Let’s just make it.’ From there I started playing with different essential oils. Jojoba oil is an amazing natural moisturizer. Safflower oil is fun, too, because it mimics the skin. It retains moisture without making it oily or greasy. Also, the rosewater has aloe, which is another natural moisturizer.

Before I started making my own I would just use the Heritage Store Rosewater Spray that you can get at Whole Foods. Lately I’ve been into Juice Beauty products, and I’m obsessed with Gabriel Cosmetics , a seaweed-based organics line. I have oily skin, and I don’t drink as much water as I should so I’m always dehydrated, especially in the winter. I could actually go a full day without drinking anything except for coffee. That’s horrible [laughs]. So, yeah, I have dry and oily skin. I’m always looking for products that suppress the oil, obviously, but also something that hydrates. It’s complicated. At one point I had to buy a moisturizer for my ex-boyfriend and myself and had to combine the fact that he has really dry skin and I have oily skin because he would only use whatever I had rather than buying his own stuff. I found the Gabriel Cosmetics Seaweed Nourishing Moisturizer at Whole Foods one day so I just bought it on a whim and it’s incredible. I really love that, and I use the Malin + Goetz Grapefruit Face Cleanser, which I like because it’s not too astringent. It’s good for sensitive skin.

I have one of my lip balms in like every jacket pocket [laughs]. I use mango butter,safflower oil, evening primrose oil, and then the essential oils of tangerine, sage, and peppermint. I just make a batch of, like, 100 in my kitchen. It took maybe 10 tries of batches that were too hard or too soft or not hydrating enough. I was originally using almond oil instead of mango butter, but then I realized that some people have allergies to almonds, so I did the mango butter instead. It’s nice and flakey and it melts really well. Once you figure it out, you’re golden.

I played with making my own body moisturizer and that was a fiasco. That was really hard; it’s more of a science, the chemical-emulsifying thing. I really like Malin + Goetz body lotion, but Aesop has the best body stuff. It’s really expensive, but really lovely. I’ll use it in the shower and it just smells so invigorating! For actual fragrance, I like the Le Labo Gaiac 10 [ed note: limited edition, sold out]. I learned that Japanese people don’t use perfume because it’s considered invasive, but what’s really amazing about that is that once it interacts with the skin it just mellows out completely. It’s just a very low-key scent. There’s some cypress in there, which is really nice. Other than that I use lavender oil.

My hair is coarse and oily for sure. My brother-in-law's dad is Guy of Toni and Guy, so I get my hair cut there and use a lot of their products. They always tell me what I should be doing with it, but I’m very unruly and don’t really care. I’ll put some dry shampoo in every once in a while. I have this Lulu Organics Hair Powder, but Fekkai Au Naturel Dry Shampoo is a great one too. I don’t take care of my eyebrows, either. I hate my eyebrows. They’re a mess most of the time, so I will brush them every day and that’s it. They need to be brushed! That’s why I hate them [laughs].

A really close friend of mine, James Boehmer, works for Nars, so he turned me on to their products. They’re my favorite. Sometimes I will do a concealer if I breakout or something. Then I’ll wear a little bit of mascara because I feel like mascara is the one thing that accentuates a woman’s features in a subtle way. You’re not applying eyeliner or visual makeup, but it’s just something that that brightens and opens up your face. I like Dragon Girl for a red lipstick because who doesn’t like rouge? I think a woman in rouge is very sexy.

Other than that, I’m not really that kind of girl to wear makeup. Natural is just who I am, so I just don’t feel like myself if I’m wearing a ton, and I’m so on-the-go that I don’t even really think about it. I wake up at 6am to be at work by 6:30. For three months it was like this, seven days a week. It was pretty crazy. When you’re opening a restaurant, even on your days off you’re doing work. Now it’s nice, though, because I just started taking Thursdays and Sundays off, so I can get back into meditating again. I took a month-long Shambhala meditation class last year, but it’s been a little difficult to keep up with because of my work schedule, and it’s better if you do it at the same time every day. Even if you sit for five minutes, as long as you keep simple and sustain that, it’s really good. I usually do it when I come home to help me fall asleep and to not have lucid dreams. I will stare at the tip of one of the stones sitting in my meditation room and just meditate on that. I used to be a really anxious person, but not anymore. It’s very calming. My evening glass of wine doesn’t hurt, either."

—as told to ITG

Sabrina De Sousa photographed by Emily Weiss on December 12, 2013 in New York.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Cat

    Wow. This chick is awesome.

  • Vicki

    In the first picture she kind of looks like a young Madonna!

  • Androbel

    I want to make my own products too!!!

    Love natural herbs for beauty

    I need a shampoo that helps with the greasy stuff!!

    Xo, Belen

  • Molly

    LOVE her!

  • Talia

    I want my apartment to look exactly like that.

  • Bella

    A beautiful woman and a glorious home!

  • beeswaxnoneofyour

    I think culturally, it is certainly frowned upon to wear perfumes that have bigger sillage in public, and in more workplaces than here, but that isn't to say Japanese people don't wear perfume. They just wear it more discreetly for the most part. My family is Japanese and they wore all sorts of stuff - Chanel No. 5, Fidji, L'air du Temps. What I did notice is that they used scented soaps more - the sillage is much gentler.

  • fffff

    I stoped reading here: "Two years ago my business partner and I went to Patagonia and we were complaining about how awful the food was there. It was winter, so everything was imported—just scarce and not fresh." It's like, duh. If you want to respect the environment just eat whats available, in this case, lamb and lot's of smoked meats.

  • Ayu Awkawardcheesecake

    I love the "'I really need a salt scrub...let's just make it"
    You are awesome.

  • Restless Blonde

    I like this Top Shelf. But I LOVE her apartment!

  • Eliza

    Could not agree more--obviously it doesn't matter what she uses as long she loves it (and Dragon Girl is an amazing name for a lipstick), but I was really surprised to see Nars from someone who said, "I use all-natural and organic stuff." I assume she probably just uses Nars since she doesn't wear makeup a lot, but there are lots of amazing organic lipsticks out there (Ilia, anyone?).

    Plus (just speaking generally here) I feel like if you're going to go organic with anything, it should be stuff that goes on your mouth, since you're literally ingesting it haha.

    Either way, organic or not, a great Top Shelf :)

    • ais

      it's definitely okay to put on a nars or non organic lipstick every once in a while if all of your everyday products are organic. no one should be ostracized for that.

  • Olesya Kalat

    Does anyone know if that's lavender in the vase on her toilet :)

    • Masha

      Looks like lavender to me!

    • Jani

      yes it is lavender

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    I agree on Juice Beauty. I love their peel.

  • Deb

    Actually, the herbal site is Mountain Rose Herbs. They have wonderful, dependable products! Those herbs are great, but know your own body and what herbs/tincutres each woman needs is very individualized. An herbalist can assist.

  • Masha

    I do the same thing as Sabrina: some green products, some not-so-green ones. Some people pick and choose...better to have some clean, green products in your cabinet than none.

    Also shampoo is mostly on your hair, which is dead anyway, for very little time before it's washed off (as compared to products which are left on the skin to absorb). So if you were going to choose a product to not be so green with that seems like a sensible one!

    • Alice

      I love Aesop fragrance's almost as everyone but that shampoo is the most overpriced one I have ever seen. Someone who is all for green and organic and uses something with SLS? Even I avoid it.

  • katie

    I have that really frustrating oily-yet-dry skin too. I have found only one moisturizer ever which actual works for me rather than exacerbating my freakishly sensitive face. It's Korres yoghurt cream, "a velvety moisturizing cream for oily, dehydrated skin". I don't think it's completely natural, but it comes close enough for my tastes. And it works. I highly recommend it and wish I had known about it years ago!

    • Alice

      Have you ever tried using oils on your face? Or maybe your cleanser is too stripping?

      • Eva

        I second Alice....try oils, they work wonders! I started the oil cleansing method with castor and olive oil...lets just say that I know what "normal" skin feels like now.

      • katie

        Yes! I started using neem oil just a few weeks ago, it's phenomenal. I mix it with the yogurt korres stuff though so it's not too much for me. It's fantastic! The only oil I have ever found which doesn't make my skin insane.

        • Alice

          Yay, so glad you found something is working for you! Oils are the best, my skin is normal but they still make a huge difference.

  • Peaches

    i have a yellow bug in a nut lol. I keep it on display too lol.

  • Fiercely Demure

    Quaint apartment and greatly styled!

    Good read :)

  • Krista

    I agree. When I read the parts where she said she uses Toni and Guy, and NARS products, I was like... Uhmmmm... I appreciate that people make the effort to take the clean, all-natural approach, but it's all about balance. Use what works for you, organic or not; be an informed consumer. Besides it's all chemicals anyway (whether it's a homemade tincture or Dragon Girl).

  • JY

    It's about balance. It's important to be conscious about the ingredients in products you use every day. Still, worrying about whether every single product meets certain, sometimes arbitrary criteria is not a good use of time or energy.

  • Talia

    It's important to remember that in the world at large here are no absolutes, and dogma just builds barriers to understanding :)

    • little bigs

      wise words!:)

  • Talia

    Sago Palm :)

  • Elizabeth

    what book does she read to help her figure out all her natural methods?

  • Anna Maria V Turcato

    Definitely my kind of girl!! Lovely post.

  • Sara

    Uh...Gaiac10 isn't sold out, you just have to buy it in Tokyo, it is a Le Labo City exclusive. But traditionally once a year (around November?) you can purchase city exclusives at any location. Once you purchase a city exclusive you can get it refilled at any Le Labo store (I know this because my signature scent is Poivre23, the London exclusive).

    I've never heard of this store before, I'm so intrigued! Must explore and purchase

  • Maggie

    I was very interested in what she said about balancing hormones. I have the same problem so I'm definitely looking up Black Cohosh and Motherwort!

  • Tajna

    I've struggled with oily skin for years,and I've found that the best way to treat it is to work with it.Drink a lot of water,use a Clarisonic and some great face wash,such as Origins,and use gentle creams with beeswax and lavender in them.Also a good facial toner is key.

    For anyone with oily skin: USE KAOLIN CLAY FACE MASKS! they help to balance the oil your skin produces.I love this brand more than any other:

  • srr636

    I know this is a billion years old at this point - but what I really want to know is where she got those hanging baskets for her shower!


Heritage Store
Heritage Store Rosewater
Malin + Goetz
Grapefruit Face Cleanser
Gabriel Cosmetics
Gabriel Cosmetics Seaweed Nourishing Moisturizer
Classic Shampoo
Lulu Organics Jasmine Hair Powder
Frederic Fekkai
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil