after some truly infuriating times early in the calendar and collection year, bite was able to get their inventory issues sorted, which means that all four of the lipsticks reviewed here are still available through bite's website, sephora, or both. hallelujah.
i have some thoughts on the overall collection that i'll share afterwards, but let's just get started on the final four shades of the bite zodiac...
this was always going to be a difficult one for me, since it's my native sign, and even though i know that not everything is about me, i was always going to evaluate this shade on how well it worked for me in particular. the truth is that the earthy brown that bite chose for libra is something that would work very well on celebrity libra kim kardashian [i saw someone comment on temptalia a while back that several of the bite shades seemed to take inspiration from celebrities whether they admitted it or not and i feel like there's something to that, especially here]. it's a rich, dark neutral with a slightly olive tone that makes it nicely balanced between warm and cool.
the formula here is exquisite. it applies perfectly with a satiny finish, or perhaps a little more than satiny- glossy almost. i find that lipsticks pull closer to matte on me than they do on many people, so the fact that i continued to see a noticeable sheen on this one for hours means that most will probably have a healthy shine.
the colour itself is a rich olive-toned brown, the sort of yellowy brown that bite staked their claim to with their edgy neutrals collection of 2017. 95% of the brown shades you find are going to have red undertones, which makes them pull quite warm. this one is more suitable to a range of skin tones, even though, being brown, it does lean more warm and muted overall.
not surprisingly, the closest shade i have in my collection is "porcini" from the edgy neutrals collection. it's lighter and softer but it's definitely part of the same family.
|t to b :: libra, porcini|
i understand bite's urge to have a "balanced" colour for libra which is, after all, the sign of the scales, but i feel like they missed a strong component of the libra personality here: libras are romantic, traditionally "feminine", creatures driven by imagination and fantasy. a brown, even one that respects their obsession with balance and evenness, is too earthy and too grounded. i said that i was nervous about libras getting saddled with a pastel shade and i'm glad that bite took a different route. i just feel like what they chose missed the mark.
this was a shade that caused some serious ripples online. in part, it's because the colour choice was a real shock. anyone who knows anything about astrology knows that scorpios are the dark souls of the zodiac; they are always described with words like "mysterious", "intense", and "brooding". halloween falls in the first third of their sign and that is very fitting. much like a bold orange-red [or red orange] was a no-brainer for the battering ram, a vampy near-black was the only choice for the scary, sexy scorpion.
bite chose a nearly blinding safety vest orange and, while orange is also associated with late autumn and halloween, this isn't the shade that springs to mind. "scorpio" the lipstick is a little drier than the absolute best amuse bouche lipstick shades but it is not drying. rather, the finish is a little closer to matte than the creamiest examples for the formula. it applies and wears similar to "aries". and that's the other issue that people had.
|l to r :: mac neon orange, scorpio, aries|
it's one thing if customers just wanted to buy the lipstick for their own sign but for those who wanted to own the whole collection, "scorpio" was uncomfortably close to "aries". seen side by side "scorpio" is clearly less red and more orange and on skin tones that lean to the cool side of neutral [like mine] that difference is evident on the lips even from a distance. however, for warmer-toned beauties and for those who don't necessarily gravitate towards bright shades, the difference is going to be pretty minimal. this problem is even more glaring because bite had the exact same issue just a few months before with "taurus" and "cancer". there aren't a lot of shades that have never been done before but bite didn't come close to having the full spectrum in this collection. if they wanted to avoid the stereotypical vampy choice, maybe a smoky mid-tone purple, or a medium reddish-brown would have worked.
now this is one where i feel like they did do a good job of capturing the bold, energetic, often exaggerated character of the sign in question. "sagittarius" is a screaming bright pink that could stop traffic. i'd call it a barbie pink.
the formula is excellent, similar to "scorpio" in that its rich pigmentation makes it feel a little drier going on but not at all drying when worn. it is immediately opaque and wears well. it's not the sort of colour that will be at home in an accounting office, perhaps, but for those who dare...
|l to r :: sagittarius, mac candy yum yum|
it's a little darker and, as improbable as this seems, brighter than mac "candy yum yum" their cult shade that previously occupied the event horizon of bold lips. i love how it takes the cliche of "girly pink" and pushes it to an extreme that turns it into something else entirely. from the starting point of the idealized feminine of past eras- sweet, delicate, soft- it creates something that's loud, assertive and very modern. wear with confidence and very little else.
i know a lot of people thought that this should have been the colour assigned to the sign of scorpio and i wouldn't have objected. that said, i think that serious, hard-working, conservative capricorn is just as deserving of a near-black lip colour. i'm not sure whether to call this a blackened purple or a black with a purple undertone. the truth is that it doesn't really matter because what you're going to see is just darkness. it's like looking into the depths of outer space: cold and dark and awesome.
to be fair, "capricorn" isn't the darkest lipstick in my collection; it has a creaminess that brightens it a little compared to the flat matte "blackmail" from urban decay. it is darker than le metier de beauté's "kona", though, which is a pretty intense vampy shade. what makes "capricorn" quite distinctive is its cool undertone. if you smudge just a little bit on, you can see that it's a very blue purple, almost indigo, whereas other similar shades [like the aforementioned two] pull more red.
|l to r :: lmdb kona, capricorn, urban decay blackmail|
the formula on this one is exceptional, especially because very dark lipsticks are fiendishly tricky: the increased amount of pigment required makes the product drier, meaning that most manufacturers have to choose between something that can be difficult to apply and potentially uncomfortable to wear and adding more emollients which can make application streaky and cause feathering. this one just nails the fine balance needed. [i do recommend completely removing the colour and wiping lips clean after eating, because oils from food will upset that balance.]
so how does this last crop work in practice? well, let's take a look...
here's a look at "libra" that i included in an earlier post. the shades on the eyes are a mix of viseart's cashmere theory palette and urban decay's original naked palette.
i've tried using "libra" as a muted partner to more colourful eye looks but on my skin, i find it's too dark to work as such. neutral doesn't mean a shade is lacking in pigment and for me, this works best when paired with warm, muted shades or warmer metallics like gold and bronze [but not copper, which reads as too colourful on my skin]. on darker complexions, i think that this will function more as an "everyday" neutral but i still think it will have too much "presence" to work with bright shades.
and this is an example of what i meant about "scorpio" being an orange shade that doesn't jive with the kinds of orange you see in the fall. instead, i think it blends very well with spring tones: nude colours or slightly softened brights.
in this case, i went for a couple of my staple mac greens, "aquavert" and "lucky green" with anastasia's "legend" used to blend them together in the centre. the blush is an bold orange [although i've applied it lightly] with its own built-in gold highlighter called "my paradise", a limited item from mac's 2011 summer collection.
the safe thing to do with "sagittarius" would be to wear it with almost nothing else on the face but i decided to push the envelope a little by combining it with pat mcgrath's la vie en rose mthrshp palette and i have to say that i quite liked the results. just having this combination on my face makes me feel a little zany.
the blush is dior's "pareo", which was limited edition for reasons i will never understand, combined with hourglass ambient lighting powder in "diffused light".
finally, as predictable as it may seem, here is "capricorn" paired with some understated taupe shades. nars "stud" is in there, along with burberry "storm grey" and mac "innuendo", plus there's a bit of sparkly highlight added by rouge bunny rouge "alabaster starling". the cheeks are all neutral as well: mac "next to skin" as a light contour" and nars "nico" as a low-key highlight.
yes, there are more imaginative things i could have done than pair a vampy lip with tamped-down neutrals. i could point out that the eyeshadows clearly have some heavy shimmer going on, which obviously makes things just outrageous, but the truth is that this kind of combination of colours is predictable because it is such a great way to show off a dark lip. one woman's cliché is another woman's classic.
since this marks the end of our astrological journey, i figured that a little recap was in order. despite the early inventory issues, this collection kept my interest because the quality of the lipsticks was so consistently high. the amuse bouche formula, already excellent, seems to be improving with each new launch and if you're interested in more than a couple of the shades, it's probably worth your while to pick up the set of minis so you can have the whole thing. [plus, the shades for "gemini" are included as two separate lipsticks, which is even better.]
if you want to buy one or two and aren't necessarily just looking to have the colour corresponding with your own zodiac sign, here are my recommendations, based on a few different factors:
best overall :: virgo, pisces
weakest overall :: gemini, leo*
*i'm only including leo because the formula is quite different and i know it divided a lot of fans. personally, i love it.
most original :: pisces, libra, leo
most dupe-able :: taurus, cancer, aries
best matches to zodiac sign :: aries, leo, aquarius, sagittarius
worst matches to zofiac sign :: gemini, scorpio, libra
i promised a little while ago that i was going to work on a new "lip for all seasons" post with recommendations for all twelve different sci/art seasons. i haven't completed that yet but in the meantime, i figured why not make some recommendations just from this collection. obviously, the colours weren't designed with this in mind, so i've broken them down a few different ways:
best matches for springs :: scorpio, pisces, aries
best matches for summers :: taurus, cancer
best matches for autumns :: leo, libra, gemini
best matches for winters :: capricorn, sagittarius, virgo, aquarius
brightest :: aries, scorpio, sagittarius
softest :: taurus, cancer, pisces
warmest :: leo, libra, scorpio
coolest :: aquarius, virgo, capricorn
lightest :: pisces, cancer
darkest :: aquarius, virgo, capricorn
as i mentioned earlier, many of the single lipsticks and the miniature collection are available through bite's website. tracking down the earlier single shades might be a bit trickier but there's no harm in looking, right?
once the early bumps in the road were smoothed over, this became a very fun collection to follow. of course, i now need to look very seriously at my collection of lipsticks because clearly bringing home this many means i need to clear out some that just don't make the grade anymore. but that's another story. bite has raised the bar on lip products to the point where every other brand is having to play catch-up. well done. i see great things in the future.
p.s. :: if you'd like to see the other parts of this series you can find them here [aquarius, pisces, aries, taurus] and here [gemini, cancer, leo, virgo]