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making faces :: written in the stars, in lipstick [part two]

it's the middle of september already? i'm not prepared for that? i mean, i am prepared for it because the heat this summer has been murder on me and i've been begging for a reprieve for months but i'm still bowled over by the speed at which time passes. this year, i've been measuring time through the launches of bite beauty's astrology collection, which arrives like the full moon once a month. [the full moon arrives every four weeks, which is less than any month except february -ed.] earlier this year, i took a look at the first four launches of the collection and already it's time to catch up with four more.

the most important thing for you to know is that after several months of problems, bite and sephora appear to have sorted out their inventory planning. for the last several releases, information has been clear and reliable as to when and where each lipstick will be available [pre-orders taken for a couple of days on bite's own website and a general release on the exact day that the zodiac sign changes]. more importantly, there has been adequate stock for a month, which is how it should be. so while things were imperfect and frustrating for the first chunk of the year, it's been operating like a well-oiled machine from the launch of gemini on.

so here's the next set of astrological aesthetic choices bite has offered us.


this was advertised from the beginning of the program as a shade that would make people do a "double-take". indeed, you'd have to do a double-take to absorb the dual nature of this shade, inspired by the sign of the twins. bite have done this sort of thing before: a single tube split down the middle with two shades. it allows the user to apply one or the other or mix both. well, at least in theory that's what it does. the truth is that if you want to get anything approaching a crisp line on your lips, you have to apply the lipstick with the edge pressed against the vermillion border where lip meets face. when you do that with this lipstick, the shade on the far side will inevitably bleed into the one you're using. so your options are finding a lip pencil that matches each side or being satisfied with a little less than purity.

l to r :: gemini red, mixed, beige

when combining the shades to find your own perfect blend, allow me to give you a word of warning: the red tends to overpower the beige. that might seem obvious since red is brighter and deeper, but while i expected the red to dominate, i didn't expect it to be quite as overwhelming as it was. i don't mind although i'd really like to be able to achieve completely separate application.

my other concern is that the two-sided bullet seems a bit fragile. i haven't had a problem thus far, i just notice that it moves a bit more in the tube. i also can't convince myself that the two sides can be properly fused without mixing them [and quite honestly, i would have preferred that], so it's like having two skinny lipsticks with a less than ideal shape.

i'm mollified by the fact that both sides of the lipstick meet the high standards i've come to expect from bite. the lighter side is a fleshy beige-peach that will work as a nude on fairer complexions. on darker complexions, i'm not sure it would work at all. on the deeper side is a warm, slightly muted tomato red. both are creamy and very forgiving on the lips. both last very well without being drying and without growing patchy. drying is a really big deal for me. aside from the fact that sucking the moisture out of your lips seems unhealthy, i absolutely hate the look of ultra-dry formulas. to me, it looks like house paint. i'm in the minority with that opinion, especially with the trends of recent years, but trust me that when i say something is non-drying, i say it as someone who is very sensitive to any loss of moisture from her lips.

the biggest issue that i have with "gemini" is that neither shade even comes close to capturing the energetic, eclectic, creative character that the sign represents. geminis are true to their ruling planet and are absolutely mercurial- prone to zipping from one topic or train of thought to another or bouncing between seven or eight well thought out plans for world domination, always maintaining a quirky, irreverent sense of humour. both sides of bite's "gemini" are earthy, grounded, and conservative. despite the quality of both the concept and the execution, i feel like bite got this one totally wrong in terms of colour selection.


a sign close to my heart because it is the birth sign of my beloved dominic and also of my grandfather, one of the sweetest and gentlest creatures ever to inhabit the earth. cancers are emotional, sensitive, often intuitive creatures. they tend to feel everything, good and bad, very deeply, which can make them easier to please but harder to protect.

as emotional and sensitive as they are, though, they don't necessarily come off as warm. ruled by the moon, they can seem a bit chilly and remote, or off in their own world of imagination. if i were to try to encapsulate their essence into a specific colour, i'd probably choose something soft and opalescent, something that shifted as a cancer's mood can shift, something with a silvery white base, like moonlight.

bite chose to go in another direction and it has caused some controversy. "cancer" is a moody, muted lavender with a hint of taupe. it's a lovely shade but it's also remarkably similar to "taurus", just a bit cooler and lighter.


since "taurus" was already close to some permanent bite shades, people were a little disappointed. i find them different enough to warrant owning [and by that i mean cancer, taurus, thistle and cava, all of which are definitely on the same continuum] but i would totally understand if anyone felt otherwise. when you're releasing a series of lipsticks that are only available for online purchase and when your description of the colours is a bit misleading [bite had to update the description of "cancer" to indicate that it was cooler and more lavender than the original description indicated], releasing two shades in such close proximity on the colour spectrum is going to anger some people.

l to r :: cancer, taurus

i do feel that "cancer", with its moody, cool undertones, does a decent job of capturing the essence of this watery wonder of a sign. i'm kind of amused that it's close to"taurus" because my cancer grandfather was married to my taurus grandmother and their dispositions weren't close at all. i might have chosen bite's "cancer" to represent him but for her, i would have gone with something like a bright pink-coral, rather than the earthier pink-nude that was "taurus".

in terms of formula, "cancer" is excellent- absolutely on par with the best of bite's amuse bouche formula, which is one of the best on the market. for a lighter colour, it is remarkably long-lasting and despite its muted nature, it isn't something that will only work on muted complexions: i find it functions very well as a cool nude on my bright season face.


when i first heard about bite's astrology collection, i had one wish above all: that the shade for leo be a magnificent molten gold. gold, after all, is the eye of the lion, or the landscape of the scorched savannah. but my mother is a leo and she has always been at her most regal in lipstick shades of gold, copper and bronze, like the sun which is leo's guardian "planet".

what do you know? bite apparently agreed with me. "leo" the lipstick is indeed a scintillating gold with an orange-y copper undertone. i feel that there's just a hint of pink to the undertone that makes it more wearable because even on my cooler complexion, i'm bewitched by its effect.


not everyone agrees with me. this is only the second shimmer finish amuse bouche that bite has attempted, although they did release a few translucent shimmer layering shades. bite's frost finish is a little odd; it tends to look very patchy at a single pass and falls well short of opaque but a second pass and a press of the lips tends to make it lovely and even. a lot of people were incensed that "leo" only seemed like a lip topper but my own experience differs considerably; i wasn't able to make the shade fully opaque but it took very little effort to get it close and the second pass it required transformed the colour into something very even. furthermore, i found the lasting power was exceptional for a shade that leaned both light and sheer.

there are some shimmery gold lipsticks around, although it's not a standard shade in most permanent lines. i used two limited mac shades, "bronzilla" and "out minxed", which are the only ones i have that could be called gold. both are semi-sheer and shimmery, so the coverage is similar. the colours, however, are not. you can definitely see what i mean about the strong orange tones in "leo" when compared to other gold lipsticks.

l to r :: mac bronzilla, leo, mac out-minxed

i know others who have expressed a preference for the gold gloss bite originally launched as a holiday item. i believe that the tone on that one is a bit more muted and cooler than "leo".

to me, this is an absolutely perfect shade for regal lions. although the formula is different than the regular amuse bouche lipsticks, it's still a very strong performer. i hope that bite look into doing more shimmery shades in the future.


it's not hard to make a great red lipstick. red pigments seem to lend themselves to smooth, even application and good endurance. practically every brand has at least one in their arsenal and bite themselves have about half a dozen. nevertheless, it is still exceptional to see a red lipstick this good. words almost fail me.

"virgo" is a stunning cool red, that leans a little dark. the application is fantastic- smooth and opaque with a single swipe. it lasts very well and doesn't feather at all, even in the heat. while i don't detect any shimmer in the shade, it doesn't look at all flat. as a result, my lips look smoother and plumper when i'm wearing "virgo". more perceived surface area to stare at, my dear.


i have to say it: this is already one of my very favourite lipsticks. ever.

although i have a fair number of cool red lipsticks [warm and neutral reds are way more common], i didn't find one that was too close to "virgo". the closest i have is an old shade from too faced called "drop dead red", which is pinker and darker. the level of darkness is one of the strongest differentiating factors between "virgo" and other reds. most tend to be bold and bright, which means they are lighter, or darker and moodier.

l to r :: virgo, too faced drop dead red

if i have a small quibble, it's that i think the shade is a bit too glamorous for serious, hard-working, understated virgo. it seems like it would be more at home in the aesthetically indulgent sign of libra. that might be a bit of my prejudice coming out; i am a libra after all. but i think this would have been a great opportunity to introduce a deep, saturated rust red, or a surprising yellow-toned brown, or a subtlely fiery deep orange, or even a cool brown-taupe. all of those colours seem more fitted to virgo's simple but refined aesthetics.

whew! we've almost made it! i thought i'd close by very quickly showing you how i've used these beauties myself.

first up, here's a couple of looks with gemini, starting with an application of the red all over the lips and a tiny dab of the beige in the centre. the very slight highlight does give a bit of dimension to the look although the effect is very subtle. the eye makeup here is made up chiefly of the nars eyeshadow duo "paramaribo". it's sadly gone bye-bye since nars has revamped their entire eyeshadow line.

second, here is what happens when you do a pretty even mix of both colours. remember what i said earlier about the red dominating? allow me to demonstrate...

don't get me wrong, i really like the red-plum shade that results from mixing the two. but it's not terribly different than the photos above, which have the red side all on its own. the eyes here are a mix of shades [mostly the matte ones] from viseart's theory palette in "cashmere".

finally, here's a look [one that i've shared before, actually] with the nude shade predominant. i added just the tiniest bit of the red to the corners of my mouth to create a slight ombré effect. even then, i had to watch that i didn't get too much red because it was easy for the lighter shade to be overwhelmed.

having two colours in one gives you a versatility that you just don't have with a standard lipstick. however, i feel like the tendency of one colour to take over the other makes that versatility a little less than what it would be otherwise.

and now on to the much simpler, single colour lipstick "cancer". i don't feel like this colour truly captures the dreamy, lunar magic of cancer people as well as it could, although it's not terribly far off. to help bring those elements out, i decided to play up the lavender tones that were clearly there.

there's a variety of purples happening there, including the dior matte cream colour "celeste" [one of my very favourite cream shadows of all time], which is used as the base all over the lid, shades from the makeup forever artist palette of a few years back and mac "contrast" an underrated gem from their permanent collection. [it's one of the few shadows i've tried that i would describe as a true indigo- a balance between dark blue and purple that tends to lean one way or the other depending on what you combine it with.]

the lavender-taupe lipstick range is one that bite just owns. others may have a horse in the race [e.g., anastasia's "dead roses" or mac's "stone"] but bite own the damn stables. i love all of them and feel like they're the kind of shades that go anywhere, although they're best suited to people with cool, muted complexions. that's not me but i still feel like i can get some mileage out of this colour.

ok, i'll just address this off the top: i mentioned that i got a new camera recently. i'm still playing around with it and while i haven't figured out how to adjust the aspect ratio so the photos are the same dimensions as the old ones, i did apparently figure out how to play with the settings enough to bathe myself in soft light and basically remove my nose. although they clearly aren't "natural", i feel like these photos do a good job of showing the colour and effect of "leo", so i decided to use them. no, i am not trying to convince you that this is what i look like all the time. or any of the time.

you can see how "leo" catches the light, which makes it look paler but not colourless. it looks more platinum or more copper depending on whether the light is bright or sombre.

the eyeshadow shades i've used there were part of an experiment i did to see if i had enough similar shades to warrant skipping the anastasia "soft glam" palette. [i'm not sure why i always seem to have these arguments with myself over anastasia palettes in particular but i've been doing the same with the new "norvina" palette.] there's a hodge-podge of colours and brands used including inglot 352, rouge bunny rouge "golden rhea", mac "expensive pink", a couple of shades from the viseart palettes "minx" and "cashmere" and burberry "antique pink".

finally, we have "virgo". when you have something this unabashedly gorgeous, you don't wear anything that competes with it. so i went with extreme minimalism for this look, down to the fact that even my eyeliner [urban decay "underground"] is quite soft.

the eyeshadows are my go-to nude look you can't have anymore, hourglass "suede". how deeply i wish that hourglass had kept and just expanded their range of shadow duos.

the good news is that, as of today at least, all four of these babies are still in stock on the bite beauty website. i don't know how long they'll be around, though. assuming that you're not just looking to purchase whatever shade is matched to your star sign, my top recommendation from this batch is "virgo". behind that, i'd recommend "cancer" if your priority is a great formula, "leo" if you want something more original. "gemini" is the weakest of the four [and it's still very good].

next up in the astrology collection is, of course, my own sign of libra. i've resigned myself to the fact that i'm probably not going to love the shade; libras are often associated with pastels, which are difficult for me to pull off. my other concern is that bite may just choose to do another neutral, maybe a little softer and pinker, to try to make the shade as universal as possible. september is the most common birth month in north america and the uk, with the most common birthday being september sixteenth. in fact, all of the top ten most common birthdays are in september. most fall in virgo but some fall just on the other side of the cosmic divide, making libra the second most common zodiac sign. libras are known to be fascinated by beauty and very particular about an appearance, more so than pretty much any other sign. the bottom line? bite is likely to face some serious scrutiny later this month.


I was so ready to give Bite all my money for the Gemini lipstick, but what they came up with was outrageously boring. Dare I call it obvious? Yeah, I'll go there. I think Aquarius is still my favourite of all the colours!
Kate MacDonald said…
Yeah, my favourite is between Aquarius and Virgo for sure. Gemini just didn't work for me. I have a number of Gemini friends and they're all funny and irreverent and curious and easily bored, so something so conservative and earthy is just completely wrong. I've questioned some of their choices before but Gemini was the one where I think they totally missed the mark.
Butterfly829 said…
Virgo looks fabulous!
Kate, please do a sequel to "a lip for all seasons," for winters, with 2018-available shades. I'm an aging (oh heck, past "aging" and into "aged") bright winter and lots of the winter colors from the older posts are sold out!
Kate MacDonald said…
Butterfly, you read my mind! I was looking back at those posts and remarking at how many of them were discontinued. So I am planning to redo the whole thing in the very near future.

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