Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bite Lip Lab: 50 Shades of Red

At this moment I'm heading back to Orlando after a fantastic week in New York (love JetBlue's FlyFi!). It was a busy few days that included my brother's wedding (more on that soon!), some quality time with family, a bit of work, and a great day with best friend. I hadn't seen her in a few months, so we made plans to spend the day doing a little shopping, having lunch at one of our favorite spots (Cilantro on the Upper West Side -- just a great little neighborhood place that makes a KILLER Cobb salad), and an appointment at the Bite Lip Lab. I feel like this little gem is one of NYC's best kept secrets, so I wanted to share a quick review.

Bite Beauty is a super hot beauty company that makes all kinds of amazing lip products -- they are known for their rich, creamy lipsticks, but they have pencils, glosses, and treatment products as well. You can find their products at Sephora and some other online retailers in a great range of colors, including bright bold reds, pretty pinks, and soft neutrals. But perhaps you can't find just the right shade that you've been looking for...that's where the Lip Lab comes in.

I discovered the Lip Lab when searching for a gift for my best friend Sara -- she celebrated a Big Birthday a few months ago and was adamant that she didn't want anyone to acknowledge it. No party, no presents. But what are BFFs for other than knowing you better, ignoring that directive, and surprising you with just the right gift? I put together a little box of goodies that included some silly stuff, favorite candy, little indulgences, this fantastic makeup bag, and a gift card to the Lip Lab. As long as I've known her Sara has been a lipstick lover and constantly on the hunt for the perfect red. Thanks to the Bite Lip Lab, I was able to gift her with a fantastic luxury: a custom lipstick mixed and blended to just the right shade, made to order on the spot. How amazing, right? (Note: she cried tears of happiness when she opened it. That's what best friends are for!).

We made an appointment for a custom lipstick consultation (this is highly recommended as the lab is small and quite popular) and met on a sweltering hot NYC day to let the lip technicians work their magic. Our technician Jackie was fantastic -- super friendly and eager to please. The first step was for Sara to use Bite's lip treatment scrub to soften her lips and get them ready for lipstick. And then came the fun!

Sara knew that she wanted a great red lipstick, so Jackie asked a few questions to help figure out just what kind of red (she also gave described the options for finishes -- sheer, cream, and matte). I was a little surprised that she didn't offer any suggestions or direction, but I guess the lab is really there to just fulfill the wishes of its customers. Who cares if flamingo pink lipstick isn't the most flattering color on you -- if that's what you want, they aim to please!

Jackie started mixing up reds on a little transparent worksheet by pulling colors from a rainbow of pots at her station. It was like the best crayon box ever! Each time, she noted the formula on her worksheet so we could keep track of what worked and what didn't.

The first 2 shades were very wrong, and I could tell Sara was a little nervous that she wasn't really going to get a color she loved. As we were sitting there, I realized it might have helped for her to bring a few images with colors she loved as reference (this can be a great way to communicate since everyone describes color differently). Soon though, we were getting closer -- Sara didn't want a brick red and she didn't want something too pink, she wanted something bright and punchy, with a slight orange twist. The third and fourth colors were better, but number five was AMAZING. It was great to witness that magic that happens when someone puts on just the right shade of lipstick. She lit up and couldn't stop smiling -- so fun!

We were pretty sure this was it, but Jackie suggested we try going one step further (with a bit more orange) as a comparison to see if that really was the right shade. I think that was a great idea -- that way Sara would have no doubt in her mind that #5 was the right one, Number six was nice, but it was clear #5 was the winner. Now that we'd found the right shade, it was time to customize and create!

The next step was choosing the essential oil(s) used to give a hint of flavor to the lipstick. There were 6 options, including cherry, berry, citrus, and mint (cherry was my favorite, I think Sara got citrus). You choose the shape of your lipstick tube and then the color is mixed up and sent for a whirl in the centrifuge (it really is a laboratory!). The final mix is poured into a mold and placed in some sort of blast chiller to set. Jackie wrote up a little card with Sara's specific formula so she would always be able to come back and repurchase her perfect red. After just a few minutes, the lipstick was ready and carefully placed into the plastic bullet. Sara was now the proud owner of her perfect red lipstick - voila!

Did I manage to get a good photo of the finished product? No, of course not. But here's a slightly blurry one:

So to sum up, this place is AWESOME. I really wanted our visit to be all about Sara, but I am dying to go and get my own lipstick. Not sure what color I'd want...Jackie said people come in asking for all kind of colors, from the classic nude to bright teal and funky silver. I'd love to find a really wearable red (never seem to be able to find the right shade), but I'd also love a really pretty, feminine coral. Or maybe something super practical -- that "my lips but better" shade that I am always looking for.

The cost for one tube of lipstick starts at $36 (that included the appointment and the finished product) -- you can opt for a super premium formula or shimmery finishes that bump up the price another $10 or so , but $36 gets you all of the basic options (sheer, cream, or matte). That's about $10 more than you average tube of high-end lipstick, but totally worth it in my opinion since you know you're absolutely going to love it.

If you are a makeup junkie or just love a great tube of lipstick, the Lip Lab should be a must-visit the next time you are in New York. The tiny space is located in SoHo, which is super convenient to all kinds of great shopping and dining. You should definitely just go, and have a great time!

The details...

Location: 174 Prince Street

Hours: open 7 days a week, roughly 11am-7pm (make an appointment, especially on the weekend!)

Price: $36 and up

Other services: none (I'd hoped there would be some of their standard lipsticks and products available for testing out and purchasing, but no luck)

More info: Bite Lip Lab


  1. That's actually a really reasonable price for a completely customized lipstick. Such a great birthday present idea!

    1. I agree! I'm definitely going to buy this for a few people for Christmas this year (and next time I'm in NY, I'm going to get one for myself!)