My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Re Jin Lee, the woman behind the amazing ceramic design studio BDB, is warm, witty and enviably stylish. Here, she shares a trick for amazing cheekbones, her sweet nighttime ritual and the daring beauty treatment everyone should do once…

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

What is your daily skincare routine?
When my skin gets used to a product it tends to become dull, so I like to alternate skincare products every other day. Currently, I use Qiora Creamy Mousse Cleanser or Shiseido Benefiance Cleanser. Now that the weather is getting cooler, I use Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Treatment to keep my skin from getting dry and flaky. I love Aesop products mainly because of the smell. I believe that scent is so important, because when you enjoy the experience of using a product, you relax. It’s an oil, but it doesn’t feel heavy at all; it just evaporates. It really does the job. At night, if I remember, I’ll apply Aesop eye cream around my eyes, lips and laugh lines. If I really remember, I’ll try to put some on my neck, too, because I have lines there, too.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Do you have a game-changing product?
At night, I use Shiseido Benefique Hot Cleansing makeup remover before washing my face. It’s a clear gel that you put onto a dry face and rub wherever there is makeup. The more you rub, the warmer it gets. It rinses off like soap and your makeup comes off perfectly. It removes mascara better than anything I’ve used without sacrificing any lashes! I love it.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Do you have any unexpected physical traits that you love?
One morning, I noticed a little sun spot had appeared on my right cheek. Immediately I recalled a memory from when I was little, hearing my mom tell her friends about sun spots appearing on her face when she was pregnant. In that moment, I knew I was expecting. Now, when I notice that spot, I remember that feeling of pure happiness from finding out we were having a baby.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Do you have any stories of regrettable beauty moments or experiments-gone-wrong?
Sometimes, presenting my work at trade shows, I get shy. So one time, I thought darker eyebrows would give me a boost of confidence, as if I were an actor playing a role. So I put on clothes I’d never wear, including high heels, and I penciled in my eyebrows. I even ordered glasses! I don’t need glasses, but I wanted to look “professional.” I knew I’d overdone it when a visiting friend unsuccessfully kept trying to avert her eyes from my brows. She could not stop looking at them. We went out to lunch and she was like, “So… tell me about your eyebrows.”

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Do you usually wear makeup?
Yes. A friend gave me a sample of Cover FX’s contour kit. I really liked it and have been using it ever since. It has four different shades, and comes with an insert that tells you exactly where to put each one. I use one as a concealer, and another is a shiny illuminator cream, which has changed my life. When I was younger, I would try to imitate the pretty ladies from magazines who had shiny cheekbones. I would buy the greasiest cream I could find and put it on my face hoping I would look like them. Fast forward a hundred years later, and this contour kit finally gave me what I was looking for. It makes you glow and really does mask your tiredness. It also includes two dark tones, to do the contouring itself. I don’t use those unless I’m going out, which is never! But it definitely does make your cheekbones look more accentuated.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Is there any other makeup you use every day?
Years ago, a makeup artist told me I “really” needed to pencil in my eyebrows to frame my “oddly shaped” face. I thought, how rude!! Fast forward to now, and I’d take my eyebrow pencil with me to that desert island. A friend recently recommended the Lorac Front of the Line Pro liquid eyeliner and it’s been a game changer! The tip is foolproof, which is very helpful when you’re in a rush. My favorite lipstick color for fall and winter is Bobbi Brown’s Raisin.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Do you have any weird little tricks that you swear by?
Through Pinterest, I’ve learned how to properly apply concealer. You can’t just put it under your eyes, which I used to do, you have to put it in a little upside-down triangle. That was a revelation to me.

Are there any items you’re always on the lookout for?
I’d love to find a great rose-scented perfume. Not the feminine powdery kind but the freshly-rained-on kind of rose scent. Anyone have any recommendations?

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Do you have any (non-beauty) rituals that you love?
We have two sons, and we strung fairy lights over their beds and stuck glow-in-the-dark stars on the walls. We keep the fairy lights on when hanging out in bed, read bedtime stories, singing silly songs and sharing squeezes and kisses. Then when it’s time to sleep, we turn off the fairy lights and all cheer when the glow-in-the-dark stars light up. Every time, we cheer as if it’s the first time we’ve seen this magical transition.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

What’s your bedtime routine?
Growing up, the scent of my mother’s lotion brought me so much comfort. Whenever we held hands, I could smell her lotion and I felt protected. Maybe that’s why the last thing I do before going to bed is put lotion on my hands.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Your bangs are great. How long have you had them?
These bangs I’ve had for about a month. Bangs and trade shows are two things I would tattoo on my arm that I’ll never do again, but then I keep doing them! Thankfully, I’ve finally found the right product — Moroccan Surf Paste by OGX. Asian hair just hangs straight down, so I have to use texturizer to add some volume. I picked this one up in the drugstore and was so happy to find it actually does what it says.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Do you have any other beloved drugstore finds?
I absolutely love browsing in drugstores, especially during travels. When I visit family in Brazil, I bring back loads of nail varnishes. There’s one color called Renda — it is THE best neutral color in nail polish history. If you know of anyone visiting Brazil, ask them to bring you one!

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Tell me about the time you bleached your hair.
Every summer since high school, I’ve come up with a new hairstyle. Asian hair is black and straight, but I like to do different things. I’ve cut it, curled it, even shaved my head. Then, once, I dyed it blonde. My friends said it was a midlife crisis, but I think I just wanted to do something new after having two kids. I was trying to re-discover myself. I had to go to a few places, because no one wanted to do it. It took three bleach processes and two tonings. I spent the entire day at the salon getting my hair killed.

A first, I really liked it. But then the roots start growing and it became what people have been warning me against. Now, when I look back at pictures, I’m like, “What was I thinking??” I thought it looked so cool at the time. But I don’t regret it. I say, do it once.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Do you have any showering rituals?
Naturally scented bar soaps help me unwind. My favorite soaps are from Beekman. I met the maker at the Union Square holiday market years ago, and since then, I’ve been a loyal customer. I store my soap stock in my dresser drawers, as I love how they smell on my clothes.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

How do your Brazilian roots and South Korean heritage make their way into your beauty rituals?
Growing up, we used lots of natural products for beauty. We’d cut off aloe vera from the roots, remove the white prickly teeth and rub the extract directly onto our hair. After spending time in the sun, we’d boil milk and apply the milk skin (lactoderm) over our burns. When we visited Korea, my mom would crush the petals of their national flower Mugunghwa (hibiscus), place them over my nails, tightly cover them and leave them overnight. In the morning, my nails would be stained with a beautiful orange-red color. Because of this, I’m still very appreciative of naturally made products.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Are there any foods or drinks that help you look and feel your best?
Growing up in Brazil, drinking coconut water was as common as drinking regular water. The best coconut water here, in my opinion, is this 100% Raw coconut water.

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Last but certainly not least: do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
Smile and you shall receive :)

My Beauty Uniform: Re Jin Lee

Thank you so much, R.J.! We love you!

P.S. 22 more lovely women share their beauty uniforms, and a trick for feeling pretty.

(Photos courtesy of Re Jin Lee. Interview by Caroline Donofrio.)

  1. congee says...

    oh my gosh, I love her, so funny. “Tell me about your eyebrows”. She is beautiful, fun, and fearless! and thanks for featuring someone Asian!

  2. RJ says...

    Hello Caroline & Joanna! I wanted to post an update on my rose scented perfume search. Thanks to all the suggestions here, I tried many I liked and found the one I absolutely love: Jo Malone’s Red Roses cologne. Thank you everyone for your suggestions. x

  3. Andrea says...

    she is fabulous! i am quite the minimalist and haven’t experimented with my look or beauty routine much at all since high school. i’ve been in the mood for something new and much like re i thought – what about eyebrows? well that experiment will be taking place when i am finally reunited with my sisters – who are pros at eyebrows. i love the blonde look on re and the natural nail polish from crushed petals.

  4. Sophie says...

    I might be too late to find an answer, but RJ I am also a ceramicist and I am in love with your smock dresses. I have been looking for something that isn’t constricting but still functional. Where do you find those lovely smocks?

  5. What a great insider post!!
    Agree a 100% about the eye brow liner, the most minimalist and natural way to look awake and clean!

  6. Frances says...

    Thanks for this post! Now I want that Raisin lipstick. And bangs.


    Tea/Rose by CB2 – It smells like rained on rose to me and he has two versions, the water perfume and the oil. The oil stays much longer, the water perfume barely lingers, but I mix them to make it last.

    xx thank you for this, I need to get my hands on RENDA!!

  8. Jeannie says...

    Lol I beg to differ: MY Asian hair is deep brown and wavy (and I love it!). She means that (most) Korean hair is black and straight ;) let’s not lump all Asian ladies together now! And, I love her eyebrows. She has great make up game.

  9. Clarity says...

    You are fantabulously gorgeous.

  10. Nazeli says...

    She’s soo pretty! I love her bangs. Like many commentors recommended, Red Roses by Jo Malone smells amazing.

  11. The bleached hair is beautiful! Don’t be afraid to do it again!

  12. Emma says...

    For rose Le labo – divine!

    • jenna says...

      I second Le Labo Rose 31! Smells like the stem of a rose instead of the flowery bloom. XO

  13. This was a wonderful entry in the series!! I just love these posts, so much, Joanna!
    Aaaaaaand, I could talk about perfume alllll day!! The best rose I’ve smelt is Byredo’s ‘Rose Noir’. It’s incredibly delicious and truly balances the earthy rose with a green freshness that’s not citrusy. It’s feminine, woodsy yet incredibly sexy with the right enigmatic smidgen of what the heart of the scent is. I think it’s so unbelievably beautiful because it elevates the classic rose into the true experience: that mystery of how a flower so beautiful has a scent so equally intoxicating. Hope you like it! xx

  14. jenny says...

    In your quest for a rainy rose perfume, I highly recommend you go to Barney’s and test Portrait of a Lady by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. It’s strong, so go easy, but wow does it leave a magical trail!

  15. Maren says...

    I would highly recommend Happ & Stahns (Anthropologie) 1842 Rose Alba. The bottle is a beautiful sea green with a pin cushion top with decorative pins. It smells like fresh roses from my grandpa’s garden, and remind me of the Tea Rose body splash my mom used to wear.

  16. What a beautiful perspective. I love the bits about realizing she was expecting and how she puts her sons to bed. She is lovely!

  17. I loved it! And i want that contour kit!

    • the contour kit is life changing. the *only* thing I wasn’t stoked about is how much longer the illuminator lasts than the other colors. I find that my concealer runs out the quickest because it covers most of my face, followed by 3, then 4, then 2 (the illuminator). But you can buy all the colors separately so that’s pretty cool.

  18. Jess. says...

    Wow, you are a lovely human, and this interview is just a treasure trove. I learned so much!

    I am also excited to try out these rose perfume recommendations. I am currently in love with Body Shop’s atlas mountain rose (NOT the wild rose). The first time I smelled it, I started crying; I think it scared the salesperson a bit.

    I use the perfume oil, which they aren’t currently selling, but they do have perfume. I also smear some of the massage oil (also not currently available, though they do have lotion) on my boys with their lotion before I put them to bed, and I think it helps us all feel a bit transcendent as they drift off to dream.

  19. I LOVE her idea of trying something new with her hair every summer. I usually get my hair cut once a year, for my birthday. It isn’t always necessarily something new, though last time I cut off eight inches and got a pixie! Not doing that again, but it is fun to try something different.

  20. Beautiful lady!

    Paul Smith Rose is lovely, fresh and light. I’ts the only perfume I’ve ever used up and repurchased!

  21. Ashley says...

    Wow, Re Jin is so pretty, funny and obviously very talented. And I love her bangs!!

  22. Ah i love reading this.

  23. Kim says...

    I really love these beauty uniform posts, and as an Asian woman too it’s always great to see what others do with their faces and hair!! I cannot get my own hair to do anything but go straight down, maybe I’ll try the texturiser…!

  24. Scents are so important in beauty product. It’s great to hear someone echo my number one reason for choosing a product. Great post.

  25. Ana says...

    omg I only wear rose scented perfume, thanks for all the recommendations!
    My favourite is also Le Labo. The rose version of chloe is really nice too and aqua di parma have a new rose perfume which smells really fresh.

  26. “Smile and you shall receive” is beautiful! A warm smile can do wonders. Such a great beauty routine–now off to try her eyebrow pencil… : )

  27. she is gorgeous! i think she can pull off every hairstyle and color :)

  28. Loved this interview. Can’t wait to check out her ceramics too.

    Love the Rose recommendations. I was just in Portland and visited the Rose gardens. I was shocked by how much variety and complexity each rose’s scent had! Can’t wait to find my perfect “take me back to vacation” Rose scent. (PS- one rose smelled like lemons!!)

  29. Love RJ and will take any beauty secrets she shares! I remember laughing at that brow story ;)

  30. Stephanie says...

    I love Le Labo Rose 31 and Aerin Evening Rose.

  31. Dalia says...

    I adore the Pinrose Signature scent for a beautiful Rose scent: They also have something called petal packs which are like little alcohol swabs with scent on them so you can try a little before you buy a whole bottle!

  32. Kristin says...

    I really wanna know what red lipstick she’s wearing in that photo with her husband. It’s divine.

    • Laura says...


    • RJ says...

      It’s Bobbi Brown’s Raisin lipstick!

  33. Heather says...

    Jurlique!! Love their rose scent!

  34. Emily says...

    Maybe a little odd as a fragrance recommendation but Lush has been doing amazing natural rose scents for ages. Currently their lineup includes “Rose Jam” body wash with rose and a bit of lemon –,en_US,pd.html
    The light scent will make people wonder why you smell great but won’t be strong enough for them to figure it out.

  35. gem says...

    Second the Diptyque (L’Ombre Dans L’Eau and the Rose) and Stella recommendations re rose perfumes. Delicious! Enjoyed reading, love this series ❤️ X

  36. Michelle says...

    Oops I misspelled it. The brand is coqui coqui. They has a fresh rose scent and a dry rose scent.

  37. Michelle says...

    Cocqui coqui has 2 rose perfumes and I love them both!

  38. LA says...

    You simply MUST pop into Le Labo and ask for a little sample of their Rose. It doesn’t hit the nose with a literal bouquet, but slowly warms on the skin into a fresh, warm, almost rain-spicy deliciousness… like the velvet of a rose petal rubbed between your fingers and breathed in flutteringly against the nostrils. People literally stop to ask what it is.

  39. Tamara says...

    I wear Jo Malone Red Roses and it’s a really fresh, beautiful rose scent.

  40. Ari D. says...

    Olo Cedar & Rose is the best!

  41. jill c says...

    This was such a great beauty routine – she is just so beautiful and her skin looks luminous!
    I am not much into things with rose scents but I do love Le Labo Rose 31 perfume which is a cleaner scent in my opinion – you can order the sample online and try it without having to commit to a larger bottle.

  42. RJ says...

    Wow – thank you so much for all the rose scented perfumes!

  43. Teree says...

    Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Toit is a beautiful herbal rose scent. I usually do not like rose scented products but this one is gorgeous. (And they sell it on Amazon ?).

  44. Smile and you shall receive!! ♥
    I mean seriously, can we get that on a billboard?! I’m amazed at the number of people that think the road to getting what they want is paved with a bad attitude. blegh

    +love the tip about storing soap in the same drawers with your clothes. cool chick this R.J. ;)

  45. Renda is my favourite nail polish colour too, it has been for years, and always ask friends to bring from Brazil!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      now i’m so curious to try it!

  46. A true beauty, RJ doesn’t even need to wear makeup of course. Loved learning your beauty rituals and secrets:)

  47. One of my favorite beauty uniform posts so far! Added many of her favorites to my Amazon cart already ;) Oh and as far as rose scents go, Lush has by far the freshest, least-granny rose scents I’ve ever found!

    • Jennifer says...

      Diptyque Eau Rose is another good one, for just a straight up fresh rose.

    • RJ says...

      Thank you for the recommendation! That’s John! :)

  48. Rachael says...

    I used to wear Stella and Stella Rose Absolute (which has been discontinued) perfumes, but now I prefer natural fragrances because they don’t give me a headache. I love RSW005 by Lurk, which is scented primarily with rose and sandalwood.

  49. Sarah says...

    I love Jo Malone’s Red Roses scent.

  50. lovely post, really interested by the natural part, like using aloe vera – it reminds of my parents when they speak of all these natural ingredients they used in their everyday life whilst living in india

  51. Lovely interview! And I love her work as well! Gorgeous ceramics!

  52. Chloe makes a delicious rose perfume, Roses de Chloe I think. I’m a floral designer, so I’m kind of snobby about floral perfume. One time I layered it with L’eau D’Issey by Issey Miyake and it was unbelievable. I looked insane, sniffing my arms all day.

  53. Amy says...

    The platinum hair was a secret wish of mine in my early 20’s. I thought Gwen Stefani (the only famous person I could think of that had it) was so cool. I never did it, but I don’t think I regret missing out. In my adult years I see how much easier it is to maintain beautiful hair colour that is close to your natural color with less salon visits and $$$

    • Laura says...

      I did it a few years ago (in my late 20s). Seems like RJ and I had the exact same experiences with it! I’m not Asian, but I have very dark brown hair. The first few hairdressers I went to flat-out refused to do it. When I finally found someone who would take the risk, it took 2 all-day bleaching sessions and multiple toners (and hundreds of dollars). I loved it, but pretty much everyone else hated it. I only lasted a year with it, because the upkeep was just way too much (both time-wise and monetarily).
      But I don’t regret doing it, either. It was something I had wanted to do for years, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  54. Yael says...

    Would love to know what kind of foundation she likes… and where she got that awesome stone-colored jacket in the top picture.

    • RJ says...

      Hi Yael, I’m not familiar with foundations, yet. Have been using the concealer to cover up spots and dark circles. The jacket is from Zara!

  55. ashley b says...

    and the soap in dresser drawers is genius! as long as you can remember where you’ve stashed them. :)

  56. Amy says...

    Thanks for linking that concealer trick – I’ve been needing to figure out concealer!

    Rose perfume: Demeter makes two that smell AMAZING. Bulgarian Rose and Pruning Shears. They only last for a few hours on me, but they also cost only $15…

  57. Kelsey says...

    Try Nirvana White by Elizabeth and James for a nice lightly rose-scented perfume. It’s been my favorite for almost a year now. The Nirvana Black is more intense – better for a night out.

  58. ashley b says...

    JO MALONE ALL THE WAY (on the rose scent).

  59. “Smile and you shall receive.” That is pure beauty advice.

  60. One of my favorite perfumes ever is Elizabethan Rose by Penhaligon. I LOVE their perfumes, and Elizabethan Rose is unbelievably real and fresh. Unfortunately I was just in their store at Rockefeller Center and they told me I was lucky to have it because it had just been discontinued :(

  61. jen says...

    Wow, I got so many hints from this: the lights and stars, the triangle of concealer, very useful and fun beauty uniform.

  62. RJ:
    omg girl, it’s so funny this post came today because i literally just got a sample of the best rose scent ever.
    i usually find rose to be too powdery or old-ladyish also but this one is like roses in the rain – or a whole big fat rosebush in the rain. i am really liking it. and luckyscent offers samples so you can try before you commit to a whole dang bottle. thanks for the lovely interview! going to check out that contour kit…

    • Kate says...

      Omg thank you for this tip!! I am so gun shy about perfumes because I feel like trying it for a second in the store is never enough to know how I will “live” in it! Ordering a million samples right now.

    • Kelsey says...

      I have worn this scent for years, and there is nothing else like it!
      It opens with the smell of fresh cut grass…almost like the green leaves of tomatoes and then settles with a true “dew on the roses” scent. It is so fresh and unique. I truly adore it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, thank you for this rec!

    • Isabella says...

      L’Ombre Dans L’Eau is a lovely one! It has a sappy greenness to it along with a big hit of black currant. One of my favorite rose fragrances is Frederic Malle’s Une Rose — a gorgeous rose with red-winy and damp-earthy notes that make it just mouthwatering!

  63. Colleen says...

    Nice job Caroline! I am off to buy some stars, fairy lights and heated makeup remover.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you’re never too old for fairy lights ;)