We decided to settle this debate once and for all, so we asked Lee to give us the lowdown on where we should be sourcing our products, globally. As an official jetsetter, she's had the chance to try out products from all over the world, and she's sussed out which countries really knock it out of the park with brow groomers, foundation, eyeshadow, lipstick, and mascara. Think of her expertise as the U.N. guide to beauty.
Go French For Foundation
"When it comes to foundation, I am unabashedly a product snob," says Lee. So, of course, her pick for complexion enhancers had to be a land that's earned it's snooty reputation: France. "There is something about French foundation that screams luxury and performance," says Lee. "French women also seem to respect the difference between the appearance of skin versus cosmetics overload. French products value the difference between coverage, hydration and luminosity, plus they usually smell heavenly."
Lee Likes: Chanel Perfection Lumière Long-Wear Flawless Fluid Makeup, $55, available at Chanel; La Roche-Posay Mineral Tinted Sunblock SPF 50, $32.95, available at Ulta; By Terry Light-Expert Perfecting Foundation Brush, $62, available at Beauty.com.
Get Your Mascara Made In The U.S.A.
"I am going to give the U.S. props for best mascara," says Lee (U.S.A.! U.S.A.!). "Nowhere else in the world can you shop with such variety. Mascara doesn't last very long, so why not try two formulations to create two different effects?" advises Lee. She also suggests having a brown-black formula on hand for a daytime, groomed look and as a great building mascara for nighttime glamour.
Lee Likes: Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, $5.19, available at Drugstore.com; Sonia Kashuk Lashify Mascara, $6.99, available at Target; Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara, $19, available at Tarte; Benefit They're Real! Mascara, $23, available at Benefit.
Head To The Far East For Brows
"Without a doubt, Asia has the best, most meticulously designed and formulated brow products," says Lee. This is partly because the Asian hair follicle is bone straight, and the hair grows at a 45/90 degree angle to the skin, so women rely on great products to give the illusion of a defined, arched brow." She also says that Asian brow brushes are superior because the tiny brushes make it possible to etch on individual hairs, making it easy to fill in sparse spaces and elongate the natural brow without blocking the shape.
Lee Likes: Shiseido Natural Eyebrow Pencil, $20, available at Macy's; Kanebo Kate Lasting Eyebrow, $19.99, available at Amazon.
Say Hey To The U.K. For Lipstick & Gloss
Lee says that thanks to Topshop and other high street brands, the U.K. has become a treasure trove of performance formulas and fashion-forward shades for lips. Lee blames her infatuation with British lippies on Boots The Chemist: "My first encounter with this brand was in the '80s.The shade of the moment, circa 1984, was a rather unfortunate shade of candy pink that shone lilac and was named 'Twilight Teaser.' It graced the lips of all the cool girls who knew where it was at, and was almost always sold out! Ah the '80s."
Lee Likes: Rimmel London Lasting Finish Lipstick Kate Moss Collection, $5.19 each, available at Ulta; Boots No. 7 Stay Perfect Lipstick, $9.99, available at Boots.
There's No Wrong Place To Buy Your Eyeshadows
According to Lee, eyeshadows and liner are pretty universal — there's no one country that does it better than the rest. That said, she prefers eye products that have strong pigments and are easy to use and says she has "found great success with products from the U.S. and Poland.
Lee Likes: Inglot Eyeliner Gel, $22.99, available at Inglot; Elizabeth Arden Smoky Eyes Powder Pencils, $18, available at Macy's; Clé de Peau Beauté Satin Eye Color, $45, available at Nordstrom.
Add Some Aussie To Your Beauty Routine
Lee said that while our friends Down Under don't specialize in a certain type of beauty must-have, Australia has some pretty awesome products worth mentioning. "I have been fortunate enough to visit Sydney and Melbourne a number of times, and when I am there, I make a point to stock up on the red tubes of Lucas's Paw Paw ointment. This lip balm/skin salve is made from fermented papaya and is so soothing. Papaya contains an enzyme that is naturally antimicrobial." Lee is also a fan of Australian tea tree oil, of which the continent is one of the largest producers. Lee says Australian tea tree oil is so good, she stocks up on it in its purest form to bring back to her friends in the U.S.
Illustrations by Gabriela Alford