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…
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last but certainly not least: do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
Smile and you shall receive :)
Thank you so much, R.J.! We love you!