When I was in New York last month, I visited the BITE Beauty Lab on Prince Street and thought I’d share my thoughts on the experience and the custom lip color I created. I first heard about the BITE Beauty Lab years ago and it’s been on my beauty bucket list ever since. BITE is one of my very favorite lip product brands and their lab gives consumers the chance to custom mix a lipstick, choosing the color, scent, finish and packaging, for $55. An appointment is recommended but you don’t have to be a makeup artist to utilize this service.I booked my appointment online, which was very simple. The day of my appointment, I enjoyed exploring the neighborhood around it to kill time, enjoying the best cold brew coffee of my life at La Columbe. Still dream of this. I arrived about 15 minutes early to my appointment and asked if they wanted me to come back if they were busy or maybe wanted start early to speed their day up? A man gestured to the empty store and said, “might as well.”The store itself is very small so if you’re going with a large group, maybe don’t. It’s rather hallway shaped. I loved the decor inside though. The scents are displayed with fresh ingredients to smell and pigments are stored in a scientific-like display case. A flashy video played on the wall that made me excited to create!
We sat down and the BITE Lip Lab artist asked my name, writing it on the wax mixing paper. I asked if I could take photos and Snapchats and he replied a bit dryly, “as long as it’s not excessive and you’re still present in the process. Some people are just so over the top with it.” I agreed but still took the photos in this post because, hello, I don’t know the next time I’ll be there and I wanted to share the experience with you too!
The atmosphere was pretty intimate, a bit quiet, a touch awkward. I made small talk and asked if he enjoyed working there and he said it was a very monotonous job. That made me feel like I was bumming him out by being there but I tried not to let it ruin my experience.
I showed him 2 lipsticks that I love, NYX Butter Lipstick in Pops and Marc Jacobs New Nudes in Eat Cake, saying that I’d love to create a hybrid of the two. I suggest doing this as you can only get so far with describing a color in words.
The BITE artist seemed to know exactly what he needed to create it and immediately grabbed 2 jars from the pigment display. He began mixing them on the wax paper with a palette knife. I was immediately a little sad because I thought I got to do this but oh well. While he did this, he instructed me to apply their Agave Lip Mask which I already know I love. I keep it in my freelance kit to prep lips and use for male grooming clients.
Very quickly, the employee handed me a lip wand and instructed me to tissue off the lip mask and try on the first shade. I was surprised that I was so happy with the first go. It was pretty perfect but I felt like I should try more as that was too quick and easy. So we mixed 2 more versions, one more pink, the other more brown. I got the sense that the employee wasn’t super inspired by the color, seeming a bit bored overall. I apologized for choosing such a “boring” shade. He surprised me by saying, “No actually, everyone usually wants a pinky beige. This is actually one of my favorites.” Hmm. Maybe he says that to all the girls.
Despite creating 3 versions of the color I wanted, I realized the first attempt was really the most ideal. After I chose my shade, I was asked to choose the scent. I chose mint, even though I enjoyed the citrus mango one too. I believe you can mix scents if you want. I then got to choose what style of packaging which is basically just the different BITE lipstick tube tops. It is their regular, rubbery gray packing that I love. When asked about finish, I said I preferred more satin or cream. The employee went to grab the little nuggets of pigment from the display cabinet and melted them down in a microwave. He then stirred them, poured them into the lipstick bullet molds and set them on top of a cooling mechanism. Throughout this process, it did feel a little odd that all I was doing was watching. I didn’t touch anything or do any active “making” myself. For some insane reason, I really thought you got to wear a lab coat and create it yourself. Maybe it used to be this way. I admit; goggles and beakers would have made it cooler.
While the artist worked away on my lipstick, we did end up chatting a bit more. We talked about how I was in town for Fashion Week, what he was going to do on his day off, and what Iowa is like. He expressed being “over” New York and I realized that maybe I was just being an earnest Midwesterner, expecting them to be as excited as I was to create a lipstick. This is nothing special to them but their job and I do appreciate the straight forward, no-nonsense nature of New Yorkers.
Once my lipstick had cooled, he removed it from the mold with a gloved hand and placed it into it’s bullet. Watching this process really simplified lipstick manufacturing for me. It is far less complex than I had imagined in my head. It had me daydreaming about ordering lipstick molds on Amazon and setting up my own lip lab in my kitchen. My husband would enjoy that. I’m just sure of it.
The lipstick was capped and bagged with my recipe card. Should I want to recreate this color, I would be able to do so via this. I was a little surprised by a few things on the card. My color was essentially just a mix of their current shades, Cin Cin and Pepper. The formula appears to be listed as Cream on the card-not sure as I really can’t read it, but the tube says that it is a Matte Creme, which I have several of and my lipstick seems creamier. That is a plus for me.
The color itself is totally right on. It’s super flattering, feels great on and is pretty much precisely what I went in asking for. I was impressed with how accurately the employee interpreted my request and how quickly he created it.
I went into it thinking the lip color I create might not be amazing or anything special but that the experience would be well worth it. In the end, the lip color was exactly what I wanted, totally perfect, but the experience felt lackluster and left me wanting more. Do I recommend you visit the Lip Lab on your next NYC or Toronto trip? I would say it’s not a “must-do” experience unless you want to replicate a discontinued color or create a combination of 2 shades like I did, because that you certainly can. Will it feel magical and exciting? No. Probably not.