Monday, May 23, 2016

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Lavender Jam

I own between 55 and 60 lipsticks, more than a few of them purple. It's rare that a mainstream brand releases a lipstick unlike any I own, and even rarer that a mainstream brand releases a purple unlike any I own (yes, I'm using a lipstick junkie's definition of "unlike," but still). So when Bite Beauty announced that it was expanding its newish Amuse Bouche line with six new shades, one of them a luminous blue-toned lavender that looked like no purple lipstick I'd seen before, I took notice.


Bite's "Sweet and Savory" collection for Summer 2016 comprises three dark "savory" shades (Kale, a blackened green; Squid Ink, a navy blue; and Whiskey, a deep brown similar to MAC Antique Velvet) and three purply "sweet" shades (Taro, a dark grayish purple; Thistle, a lilac-taupe in the ColourPop Trap family; and Lavender Jam, an "electric blue-violet"). So far as I know, all of them are permanent except the two purples, Taro and Lavender Jam. People have been complaining that these shades are better suited to fall than to late spring, but the cool, cloudy spring we've been having on the East Coast has altered my expectations of spring and summer colors. I've barely touched my corals and pinks in the past month, reaching instead for deep berries like MAC Eugenie and moody purples like MAC Up the Amp. (For that matter, seasonal color analysis dictates that "summer" colors are cool and muted, which means that people with summer coloring would be best suited to the three "sweet" shades.) The six Bite colors spoke to the gloomy gothy witchy spring/summer vibes I've been feeling this year, and Lavender Jam spoke loudest of all.


Here's the thing about Bite, though: it's one of those brands that I feel I should like more than I actually do. On paper, Bite is ideally suited to my tastes. A cruelty-free brand that makes nothing but lip products, uses food-grade ingredients, and gets rave reviews from most bloggers—what's not to like, right? But I hesitated for nearly a week before ordering Lavender Jam, because no Bite product I'd tried so far had really impressed me. All of them, no matter how opaque, had distinguished themselves by their infuriating slipperiness. The "matte" purple lipstick I bought at the Bite Lip Lab in NYC came out shinier than most of my cream-finish lipsticks, with a distressing tendency to settle into my lip lines after 30 minutes of wear. The few Luminous Creme lipsticks I tried in Sephora ranged from semi-sheer to opaque, but with so much slip that I never seriously considered buying one. My deluxe sample of the new Amuse Bouche in Radish was richly pigmented, but it never set on my lips, and every sip from a coffee cup left a vibrant lipstick stain. 

So I was understandably skeptical of Lavender Jam, but that color. I couldn't stop thinking about it. It's the sort of color that can look unnatural on a human face but is found abundantly in nature, especially at this time of year: morning glories, irises, hydrangeas, and pansies come to mind. Here are some flower photos I've taken around town in the past year—clearly, I'm drawn to this particular shade of luminous blue-purple:


So pretty, right? I'm sad to be missing hydrangea season on the East Coast this year. Ironically, I think of lavender flowers as pinker than Lavender Jam.

Anyway, I finally got tired of my own dithering and ordered Lavender Jam. Each lipstick from the "sweet" line comes in a matte gray tube with two little "bites," one larger than the other, taken out of the top. I won't lie, the tube resembles a travel-sized vibrator, but at least a classy high-tech one:


I was gratified to find that Lavender Jam was indeed different from my other purple lipsticks. In blueness it's about equal to NYX Liquid Suede in Amethyst, but Amethyst is of course much darker: indigo to Lavender Jam's periwinkle.

L-R: NYX Castle, MAC Up the Amp, Bite Lavender Jam, NYX Amethyst, Maybelline Brazen Berry.

Lavender Jam looks semi-matte in this photo, but make no mistake, it's a cream formula with a noticeable shine. It's not quite opaque in one coat; the lip swatch below is two:


I'll end the suspense now: Lavender Jam is as slippery as all the other Bite lipsticks I've tried. Damn it. It transfers onto absolutely everything. (I was trying on dresses yesterday and was terrified that I'd find smears of purple on them when I was done.) And because Lavender Jam is lighter than my two other Bite shades, I have to reapply it every time it transfers. I have to reapply it after sipping once from a cup. This would be egregious in a drugstore lipstick, but it's beyond egregious in a $26 lipstick. I even tried applying it over my neglected ColourPop lip primer, but that did nothing for the longevity (granted, that might say more about the lip primer than about Lavender Jam). The best method I've found is the one I use with other slippery and/or streaky lipsticks: putting some product on my finger and working it into my lips as a stain, then applying a second coat straight from the tube. I applied Lavender Jam that way almost three hours ago and have drunk half a bottle of water since then, and the color has worn away from the center of my lower lip but looks decent otherwise. Still, this slipperiness is ridiculous, and I know it's going to annoy the shit out of me if I keep Lavender Jam. I need my lipsticks to have my back. I need to trust them not to fade or feather on me if I dare to talk, sip water, or breathe. And I don't trust Lavender Jam.

If it were a less hard-to-find color, or if the formula had any other flaws, I'd return it to Sephora without a second thought. But I love the color. And the formula hydrates my dry lips, which is rare. I even like the citrus scent of the Amuse Bouches. So...yeah, I'm not sure what to do. I feel like I've hit a streak of bad luck these past few months: I've had to return about half the makeup I've bought. Which makes me feel wasteful (returned products just get thrown away) and question my instincts. Have I become pickier about the products I let into my collection, or have I just stopped being able to tell good ones from bad at a glance? I'm leaning toward keeping Lavender Jam, but maybe that's a terrible idea. Ugh.

Anyway, here are some photos of Lavender Jam on my face! Yesterday I got more experimental with makeup than I'd been in a while. I decided to copy this eye from Jill Stuart Spring 2016, but in lavender instead of pink:


Bless Japanese makeup brands. I love seeing bold eyeshadow looks that are radically different from the same old blown-out warm-toned halo eye with heavy winged liner.

For my lavender version, I knew I wanted to use Kiko 251, a blue-toned lavender with some shimmer. But since 251 is a bit sheer, applying it over primer didn't give me the pastel pop I wanted. So I washed it off and tried again, this time putting down a layer of ColourPop Cowboy, a near-white matte lavender, over the primer. Cowboy is not opaque either, but it made the perfect base for 251. I was so pleased with how my eyes turned out—the look gave me Pris-from-Blade-Runner vibes:


With ColourPop Rain blush and Lavender Jam:


And here are the products I used:

Clockwise from top: Lavender Jam (duh), Kiko 251, ColourPop Rain, ColourPop Cowboy.

And here's Lavender Jam today, with more toned-down makeup elsewhere: NARS Lhasa, ColourPop Eye Candy, and a matte plum theBalm shadow on my eyes, and Illamasqua Zygomatic blush and ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter on my cheeks:


Overall, my impression of Bite remains the same as it was before I tried Lavender Jam: a nice brand in theory, but not for me. I've given it plenty of chances, but nothing from the brand has blown me away. Have you had a better Bite experience than I have? Am I insane to consider keeping Lavender Jam? Let me know! And many thanks to everyone who left such kind comments on my last post—your support means a lot. <3

25 comments:

  1. Oh AB. I have a confession to make. I was never into *purple* on my face, I just never expected *purple* to suit me. Primarily because I lump 'em all as cooler-toned, and I don't know how to wear anything cool(but I'm learning, still learning.) I first came across purple makeup through you, actually. It was Colorpop's Rain that caught my attention, you looked so *lively* because of the colour, in my humble opinion.

    Thus, I began on this journey of finding the perfect lilac/purple blush for myself. So far, I've accumulated several purple things, none actually looked right for me. Since I'm in the UK, Rain is not an option. Damn, I really want to find the *right purple* for me. I don't know why, but it felt... necessary. This is all your doing, hahaha!

    Anyways, Lavender Jam looks wicked on you, in the best way possible, of course! It is a shame that the formula is slippery :(

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    1. Haha, glad to spread the purple-cheek love across the Atlantic! If you have access to Urban Decay (I've seen it at a couple of department stores in the UK), their Afterglow blush in Bittersweet is exactly the same color as Rain. It's also much more expensive, unfortunately, but so it goes. I really like UD's blush formula and will probably pick up Bittersweet once I've finished Rain (or once it dries up, whichever comes first--CP products have a distressingly short lifespan).

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  2. I love that eye look! I have one of the matte crayons from Bite, and it wears very well. Actually I have three of the Luminous Creme shades, too, and they are all fine, though two are dark berries that I never high expectations from when it comes to longevity, and one is a nude, so it probably doesn't show much when it fades.

    I never quite grasp the logic of not returning things because it's wasteful, to be honest, though I know it's a common sentiment. I think it's one thing if you buy things on a whim, frequently, intending to sample and return them if you don't love them. That's kind of wasteful. But if you really want something to work and it doesn't, why not return it? How is it different from keeping it, never using it, and then eventually throwing it out yourself? Plus, the cost that the store has to absorb is much less than the retail price you paid for it. Finally, the store can keep track of things that get returned frequently and update their stock accordingly (i.e. either by sending feedback to the manufacturer or not stocking things that people don't like--in theory, at least.) The only thing I don't like is that in some store, returns are counted against the individual sales of an employee, regardless of whether or not they sold the item originally. I don't know if that's the case at Sephora.

    Anyway, long comment, but while I think it looks wonderful on you, I personally don't think you should feel bad returning it if it's going to annoy you. But if you're having fun with it, you're not insane to keep it either!

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    1. I've swatched a couple of the matte crayons at Sephora and they do seem like they'd be longer-lasting, but none of the colors have really caught my eye. That's another complaint I have about Bite: they have a solid shade range but have only recently started branching out into unusual colors like Lavender Jam. I don't expect every brand to make blue and green lipsticks, but I like seeing a little more variety and complexity than the usual cool red, warm red, berry red, etc.

      I agree, my aversion to not returning things is illogical. And if something truly doesn't work for me, I have no compunction about returning it. I'm just afraid of becoming the sort of person who buys things practically at random and ends up returning most of them. (My mom is one of those people, so I've seen the behavior firsthand and know how addictive it can be! At least she returns things that can be resold, not makeup.) So far as I know, Sephora would have no way of knowing whether an individual salesperson had helped sell someone an item, but I could be wrong.

      Long story short, you're absolutely right. I'm still leaning toward keeping Lavender Jam, but we'll see.

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    2. Well, your purchases never strike me as random, but I totally understand the desire not to fall into the same patterns as our mothers. :) And that's another good point you make--for a company that exclusively makes lipsticks, it's surprising that they haven't had more special colors until recently!

      (I was thinking of a mall store I worked at years ago, where whoever was running the cash register got "credit" for whatever sales they rang up (even when someone else on the floor helped the customer) and got any returns they processed deducted from their sales. I really have no idea how common that is. It didn't make a lot of sense.)

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  3. I think it's perfectly reasonable to keep a lipstick simply for the color, even if the formula bothers you. But I'm really bad about returning products I don't like. I tend to keep them anyway and then they just molder in my collection until I throw them out.

    I don't really have much trouble with the Bite lipsticks (though I haven't tried the new Amuse Bouche formula), or I don't find that they're any more slippery on me than any other crème lipstick.

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    1. I used to forget to return subpar products until it was too late (this was back in the days when I bought mostly drugstore makeup), and then I'd have a mediocre lipstick hanging around for three years like an annoying houseguest. These days I'm much better about returning things as promptly as possible.

      I do seem to be in the minority in finding Bite lipsticks too slippery. Come to think of it, though, I tried on quite a few Amuse Bouche lipsticks at Sephora last month and they felt less slippery than Lavender Jam. Maybe the texture varies by shade.

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  4. That look is awesome. I really, really love it.

    You know that I have a much kinder relationship with Bite than you do - I swatched Lavender Jam in my second hand of swatches but it made my skin look too sallow. It is a stunning colour, though! How often do you think you'd wear this colour, and where? I think reflecting upon that might help you out. If it were something that you anticipated being a workhorse kind of colour, I'd say to return it. For fun? I'd keep it to play with, I don't think it would be too big of a deal to manage with a formula you don't like so much.

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    1. This is very much a "fun" color for me, though I wear most of my purple lipsticks at least a few times a month, and I anticipate wearing Lavender Jam about as often. Maybe that makes it a "workhorse," given that most of my lipsticks get worn less than that? I dunno. I've looked into other colors that seemed like dupes (Urban Decay's new Vice lipstick in Twitch, for instance), but none of them have the same amount of blue, and I don't want to get caught up in an endless search for the PERFECT blue-lavender lipstick. At least I don't mind reapplying lipstick often, and I'd rather deal with a slippery but hydrating lipstick than a super-drying one.

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  5. Have you tried it with a lip liner underneath? I think a matte filled-in lip gives creamier lipsticks something to hold onto. It always does the trick for me :)

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    1. I don't have a lip liner that's even close to the color of Lavender Jam! I thought about ordering ColourPop's lip liner in Brills, but it's out of stock. I'll keep looking!

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    2. Anything nude or light pink works!

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    3. Hmm, okay! I have a Milani lip liner in a nude-ish shade that's a bit darker and browner than my natural lip color, but I'll give that a try.

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  6. I think I've returned more products to Sephora than I've kept. Hasn't kept me from reaching rouge status though, disgustingly. If something bugs me about a product in the beginning, it's going to keep bugging me. As for this particular lipstick, the color is stunning on you, but I completely agree about Bite's formula. Their lipstick feels like Vaseline on my lips. Big nope for me.

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    1. I think Vaseline might actually last longer on my lips than Bite lipstick does! It just baffles me that a brand that ONLY makes lip products can't figure out a longer-lasting formula. Like, YOU HAVE ONE JOB.

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  7. I love it on your eyes and would probably keep it just for that! I love love Bite's matte crayons, but I was disappointed in their agave lip mask. I had such HIGH HOPES for the lip mask, and it was nice, but nice enough for the price.

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    1. Oh, I didn't put the actual lipstick on my eyes! It's an eyeshadow in a similar color. I've been tempted by the agave lip mask because my lips are always so dry, but not at that price.

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  8. Ah! The cruelty of finding an exceptional color in a mediocre formula. But going in its favor (aside from the color) is that the formula is so hydrating. I always find that very saturated and pigmented shades always (ALWAYS) dry my lips out, so in a way, you have a real gem there.

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    1. THE CRUELTY! D: Weirdly, the pigment level of a lipstick doesn't seem to make a difference in how drying it is for me. I own very pigmented lipsticks that aren't drying at all (Urban Decay 69 comes to mind) and sheer lipsticks that are on the drying side, like some of the Revlon lip butters.

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  9. Perhaps something to consider would be whether you foresee a similar lipstick color trickling down in a drugstore formula you like. But the annoying thing about this futuristic lip color trend is that any color is now on the table.

    Before, I didn't think I would be into these weird lip colors but now, every time I pass MAC the devil seductively whispers: try MAC Royal, try it! Why not? Just try it!

    I may as well. Even if I get tempted, I'm 95% sure the MACs here don't stock Royal. Seriously, MACs here pretty much only stock office-appropriate colors and their classics reds.

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    1. Drugstore brands have certainly gotten better at coming out with purples, but I don't want to wait around until this exact purple comes out, you know? I'd rather just wear this one now that I'm in the mood for it.

      Aww, that's a shame. Royal is really pretty! And it seems to look more purple than blue on some people. I'm so excited about the futuristic lip trend, even though it doesn't seem to be manifesting itself very strongly in the real world...

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    2. It's definitely an editorial look. I'd love to try some of the futuristic colors because FUN but I imagine it can be a bit confusing as to how to make them wearable in real life.

      Btw, Up the Amp isn't as bright as I imagined when I see your swatches. I bought Too Cool for School's Lip Sticker in Blazing Purple and had thought I found a dupe but I guess not. I'm happy with Blazing Purple though, as it complements my coloring perfectly. I'm growing to love purple-inflected lipsticks. Even I get bored of all red all the time.

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  10. I love your flower inspirations. That last picture (... clearly I'm not a botanist because I don't know the name for it!) is one of my favourite shades ever. I'm jealous you can pull off shades like this because I personally look sickly in lavenders (as opposed to lilacs).

    I love your lavender eye look - definitely Soft Pris.

    Also, re: above discussion, I don't believe Sephora employees make commission, so no worries about a return cutting into somebody's paycheque! But I'm bad and would say to throw caution to the wind and keep it for the colour alone.

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    1. Do you mean on the lower right? That's a hydrangea! The two on the top row are irises (I think), but I have no clue about the lower left. It was on a vine that was growing across a bush. I'm no botanist either, despite volunteering at the arboretum in Golden Gate Park when I was in high school...

      "Soft Pris" is now my official aesthetic of 2016, tyvm. And yeah, I'm way too attached to Lavender Jam to return it now. It looks like I'm going to blow through the tube in a few months, given how often I have to reapply!

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  11. I'm sorry to hear that you aren't having much luck with the formula. I haven't tried one of the new shades yet, but I've generally found the newer ones to be a big improvement on the Luminous Cremes in terms of staying power. (I am wearing Carmenere today, a shade that I love, but I've already ended up having to wipe traces of it off my nose and cheek, because even a wisp of hair in the breeze will spread it around.) Lavender Jam looks beautiful and, considering that uniqueness of colour has never been one of Bite's strong suits IMO, I'm astonished at how original almost all of the new shades seem to be quite special.

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