About a month and a half ago, I went to NYC to help my father out with something and ended up staying one night so I could head down to the Bite Beauty Lip Lab! All work and no play makes me…a lot less tired apparently! 🙂 If you’re unaware, the amazing lip product company has their own little “shop” in Soho. I say “shop” loosely because yes, they sell lipsticks. But these aren’t just your run of the mill, I bought it at Sephora kind of lipsticks – they’re custom made while you wait!!! Not only do you get to see the lipstick go from pigments and bases to an honest to goodness tube of beauty, but you help create the perfect color! Being just plain makeup crazy, not to mention lipstick addicted, I had to check it out and here’s my experience. 🙂
Let me premise my tale by setting the stage of complete and utter anxiety. Not sure why, but I was pretty badly anxious from the second I left the house the day before until I got to the Lip Lab. But I persevered and trucked it down to Soho, found the place, and obviously took a crap ton of pictures feeling a bit like a proper tourist. I walked into the little sliver of a store and it was everything I envisioned from all the YouTube videos I had watched about peoples’ experiences. I almost wish I hadn’t seen those because it kind of spoiled the process…I knew how it worked. That made it no less awesome though! 🙂 But to stay on topic, how exactly does this work?
I had scheduled an appointment a while in advance (if you want to go on a weekend, make an appointment months ahead or you may be out of luck). They try to accommodate walk-ins, but cannot guarantee they’ll get to you. I went on a lazy Monday morning probably around 11:30am and it wasn’t busy at all. My appointment wasn’t until 1pm, but I wanted to get the ball rolling and they easily fit me in. I was partnered with Christine – funny coincidence there! 🙂 – and I sat down at one of their little mixing stations. Christine asked if I was currently wearing anything on my lips and asked me to remove it with the makeup remover conveniently located next to each station. She then gave me a dab of their Lip Scrub (which I tried a long time ago and don’t remember it working nearly as well…I may be picking this up again soon because I am searching for a new lip scrub). With the dead skin outta the way, she handed me another disposable lip applicator with the Agave Lip Mask to prep my lips for the colors I was about to create. Now it’s time to get down to business – color!
Her first question was “What type of color do you want?” I had been thinking about this ever since the idea of going there popped into my mind. In fact, I posted a poll asking you all what color I should pick and the choice there was a neutral/everyday shade. That seemed like a good starting point to me and a good option because who doesn’t want their perfect everyday shade? Christine set to mixing from her vast arsenal of colorful pots using an artists’ spatula and quickly produced what looked like a pretty pinky neutral. She then asked my what formula I would like this shade to be. There are 4 to choose from: Sheer, Matte, Luminous Crème (same as the former Luminous Crème formula from Sephora) or Crème Deluxe (which is an intensely pigmented semi-matte – I’m guessing it may be the new Amuse Bouche formula). I decided to try out the Crème Deluxe and she mixed the base in so I could try it on my lips. It was ok, but a bit more brown than I would typically go for so I told her I tend to like slightly pinker neutrals. She made a second concoction that was similar, but indeed more to my liking. That was that! However, I couldn’t leave with just one so we went about another shade. 🙂
I wanted a nice mid-tone Spring pink – that was my description. I have trouble finding good lighter pinks, so I thought this was a good option. I was thinking kind of a carnation pink, but she mixed together a beautiful what I’m gonna call tulip pink. 🙂 It had more fuchsia than I was thinking, but I tried it on and it was really pretty! I wanted to try a bit lighter though so she mixed up a second version (I went with the Luminous Crème for this because it seemed more spring-appropriate). I liked the first one better so she offered the idea of trying it as a sheer. Their sheer is quite pigmented so I gave that a go too. Somehow I just liked the original best, so the original is what I got. 🙂 But wait, we’re not done yet!
Peach is another shade that is tough for me. I think for most people really. So I asked for a peach that worked with my skin tone. Not really having any expectations, she mixed up a beautiful mid-tone orange-based peach with just a hint of pink. I thought it was going to be gorgeous, but nope! It looked really neon on me and Christine totally agreed. I probably would have bought that shade if I had swatched it in a store somewhere and then been so disappointed getting it home. Since I’m choosing my own color, I have no such heartbreak! 🙂 Christine toned it down a bit, but kept a similar hue – one that I probably wouldn’t have liked as much in a store. It was still pretty, but I wouldn’t have thought it would work on me. This peach was perfection! I actually really love oranges and peaches, just find them so hard to wear and I think I am most excited for this one. 🙂 I was going to stop here, but I thought about it for a moment and decided I’m probably not going to do this again anytime soon.
I went for a red that suited me, but was a bit different than others I own…hopefully anyway! 🙂 I chose a matte finish partly to see what the formula is like, but also because it just suits a red nicely. Christine asked for more details than red and we narrowed it down to blue-based, not-vampy, sort of classic red with a bit of a neutral-to-purple-based berry. This one used by far the greatest number of different pigments. It must take a great eye for color to do that job well! Christine’s good because first try and I loved it! Not to mention the matte formula was incredibly comfortable! I didn’t even try another version of this shade. So we were set on shades, now came the time to mix everything up and create an honest to goodness hold-it-n-your-hand lipstick!
My next deep decision was to pick out my own scent while Christine wrote down the formulas on cards so recreating a shade would be a breeze! There are 7 scents/flavors to choose from and you have the option of mixing any two together for a custom scent. The scents are: Violet, Wild Berry, Cherry, Vanilla, Citrus Mango, Mango and Mint. I went with boring ole Vanilla for everyday (it smells delicious!), Cherry for the Springy pink and peach, and decided to try the two together for a Vanilla-Cherry blend in the Red. The Cherry smelled surprisingly good! Their display is so beautiful as well! And now for the mixing….
First Christine had to grab the appropriate ratios of each pigment initially used as well as the proper base. These are all laid out in small white dishes on the wall behind the color experts. It’s like a giant wall of very colorful chocolate bon bons, each marked with the appropriate shade name (already available Bite shades are used as well as numbered color pigments) just like cupcakes at a bakery. 🙂 She filled up 4 disposable jars – one per shade – melted them in the microwave for a few seconds and put them in a centrifuge for a few more seconds to mix it. We now have 4 pots of liquefied lipsticks waiting to be molded.
In to a metal lipstick mold went each newly created custom lipstick. These are I believe 4 piece molds that will create the actual bullet shape and keep everything aligned. Once poured, the mold moved to a frozen area that helps the lipstick to harden so that it can be unmolded and you can take it home on the spot. This probably took about 15 minutes. Next choice to make – they aren’t kidding about custom here! – what cap design you would like! There are four shapes that resemble the way people tend to wear down their lipsticks. I never knew that was the inspiration, but what a cool idea, right? 🙂 Since I had 4 lipsticks, Christine suggested one of each shape and that seemed brilliant to me. Easier to tell them apart after all. So the proper bottom (indicating formula) with my cap sat waiting atop the formula card to hold my new quartet. 🙂
Meanwhile, Christine tended to the cooling lipsticks. First by carefully shaving the excess of the top (which would end up being the bottom) of each bullet.
A little more cooling and the top half of the mold was removed revealing the bottom half of my new babies.
Now for the really exciting part – getting the cooled lipstick into the tube! Christine carefully aligned the casing with the colorful lipstick, pushed down and like magic there was a brand spankin’ new lipstick in a tube…all of my own creation! SO cool!
There was a bit of a snag with the pink shade and it came out a little less than smooth, so she asked if I wanted her to remold it and I did. After all, these puppies aren’t cheap! She gladly redid the whole process for the pink. Fortunately the other colors came out just fine. Apparently certain color pigments don’t like to play nicely with one another and they can cause the lipstick to break or just settle funny when unmolding. Once the pink had finished cooling, it was greatly improved though I doubt it would pass a factory inspection. 🙂 No complaints! It was clearly a tricky shade.
And that, folks, is essentially how a single lipstick is made! All 4 custom lipsticks were boxed up in the appropriate boxes for the finish, given a Lip Lab sticker, put into a cute little Bite Beauty bag and I was on my merry little way…after paying with the life of my first born of course! 🙂 I really enjoyed the experience and would definitely recommend checking out the Bite Lip Lab if you are ever in NYC. The experience is worth the rather hefty $45 price tag.
There are some things I would perhaps do differently if I were to go back though. This is just me, but I hate looking at myself in a mirror. This makes really analyzing a color difficult and I feel like I should have spent more time scrutinizing the shades I was making. I also wish I could have had someone else with me to give their input on the shades. Though the lighting wasn’t bad, the whole front of the store is glass and I wish I had paid more attention to the differences in the sunlight as well as the artificial light. And moving back to the mirror issue, they have little mirrors between each station as well as hand mirrors – with a horrid magnifying mirror on one side and a traditional mirror on the other. I don’t think I used the hand mirror enough, nor did I check each shade well from different angles. Also, I’m not sure that I loved the way the formula of the Crème Deluxe Lipstick made my lips look. I feel like they looked more line-ridden than before. I kind of wish I had asked to try it the Luminous Crème formula as well just to see the difference, but then again I do want to try the formula too. I know, I’m strange. 🙂 Last but not least, if you head there with foundation on, bring something to use for touch ups around your mouth. With all the makeup remover and the various colors potentially smearing around your face as you attempt to apply them neatly (ahem, red I’m thinking of you!), the foundation around my mouth definitely took a beating and I kind of felt like I had a bit of a lipstick-stained face in patches. Fortunately I didn’t care that much, so I just continued about my business as though I didn’t have a Joker-esque smile, and knowing I was carrying 4 little custom lipstick babies. Damn if I wasn’t proud of my work and willing to show it! 🙂
The Bite Beauty Lip Lab is located at 174 Prince Street between Thompson & Sullivan Streets in Soho. They have an online scheduler here for appointments which are highly recommended. Each lipstick costs $45 (+ tax) no matter what color, formula, time finding a shade, etc. And as we’ve just gone through, you customize your shade in either a Matte, Sheer, Luminous Crème or Deluxe Crème base. You pick the scent and the cap and wait to have your very own baby within a total of about 30 minutes. It’s a fantastic experience and I highly recommend making this a must-do whenever in NYC!!!
This post is so long and picture heavy that I will do another installment showing you the actual colors I created. I hope you’ve enjoyed and I hope to see you again soon! 🙂
love and stuff,