Once upon a time, Bite Beauty was a brand that I looked forward to reviewing, and while their line-up was more limited in their offerings, they tended to excel at what they did offer. They were known for their lip products, from lipstick to lip balm to lip pencils. Now, I don’t know what they’re known for, and there are so few readers who seem to enjoy their newer offerings. Their newer product offerings seem to have often alienated previous fans of the brand, while they haven’t seemed to be able to capture a new set of fans to replacement. Bite Beauty announced the discontinuation of their entire range in September 2019, and they had everything cleared out by late November 2019 with the first release launched in January 2020. Let’s take a look at how that’s gone down…
Sales, Sales, Sales
Now, the larger online beauty community that is filled with enthusiasts and less casual beauty fans, so it can’t be the only indicator of a brand’s success or lack thereof, but Bite’s reformulated/newer launches have routinely been on sale for 50% off and seem like they’re being discontinued because they stay on sale.
For example, the Changemaker foundation and powder have been on sale for awhile, and the powder is down to only four shades (from eight originally) at Sephora, which is a tell-tale sign of something being discontinued (it’s like pulling teeth to get a brand to admit to a product discontinuation, I swear!). The foundation still has the majority of shades in stock and any shades that are out of stock haven’t been pulled yet, and the liquid foundation did seem to garner mostly favorable reviews. The better-performing Power Move Creamy Matte Lip Crayons have been marked down to 50% for months and months.
They never previously ran so many sales, and while products occasionally went on sale or 50% off, they were typically when discontinued or limited edition products on their way out. If the products were selling well, it’s hard to see the rationale in offering them at such a steep discount so often or on an ongoing basis.
After Bite Beauty cleared out their remaining inventory at 75% off, we waited to see how it would all turn out. I know I wasn’t alone being caught off-guard when the first products they launched were complexion in January 2020. (They also launched their Power Move Lip Crayons, which I quite liked, and their Lip Masks, which I didn’t like and lacked lanolin and ended up being less effective for some who had found it to be holy grail previously.)
It made sense for Bite Beauty to eventually expand beyond lip products, but I think it made some scratch their heads a bit as the first release given how famous they were for their Amuse Bouche Lipsticks, Lip Masks, and Lip Pencils in particular. Instead of the relaunch being super excited, it just left some wondering “but what about the lipsticks?” So, I, like many others, waited, and then waited some more, to finally see the grand replacement of Amuse Bouche, which ended up being the Power Move Soft Matte that didn’t launch until July 2021. It was almost two years since they had discontinued Amuse Bouche, and then it wasn’t even a replacement at all!
For some brands, there have been increasing delays and roadblocks due to the impact on supply chains since last March 2020, but Bite’s rebrand was announced in September 2019 and inventory cleared out by end of November 2019, so it doesn’t seem like they should have had any supply chain/launching issues for their initial launches at all.
They aren’t the only brand that has tweaked or relaunched products to be vegan, and it is becoming more popular to do. First and foremost, Sephora allows you to indicate your preference for vegan products, and there are over 1,000 to choose from. It’s just important for a brand to make sure that a reformulation still lives up to the brand’s reputation, but when Bite Beauty brought back the beloved, much-missed Agave Lip Balm, the reviews came in furious and harsh.
Part of the reason was the removal of lanolin, which is a particularly effective ingredient (but animal-derived, as comes from sheep’s wool) so for some, it was the inclusion of lanolin doing the heavy-lifting and however Bite reformulated didn’t cut it for past fans. Oddly, Bite didn’t see fit to improve the packaging of the lip balm, as people had issues with the end coming undone in the past and still have that issue with the current version. Bite even released a twist-up version, which was reviewed even more poorly (just over 2-stars).
That being said, Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask doesn’t have any animal-derived ingredients, and is a pretty popular product, so it could have found fans but seemed to more of a miss than a hit for many who tried it. Fenty’s Gloss Bomb is also vegan and a staple for many who like hydrating and glossy products. Tower 28 ShineOn Jelly Lip Gloss is also a popular lip product that is vegan.
Their Daycation Whipped Blush was both a product and packaging fail, and like most of what they’ve done in the last couple of years, puzzled me to no end. They had Multisticks that were popular enough (my experience was they didn’t work well on my eyes but were decent as cheek/lip products but they were quite loved by others) in convenient, twist-up sticks. Fenty Cheeks Out Cream Blush is vegan and is a fantastic cream-based formula… so it can be done.
Not So Amused Bouche
Finally, when lipsticks–much requested and begged for–finally relaunched, the formula wasn’t just vegan but offered a totally different feel, texture, wear, and shade range. The replacement formula, Power Move Soft Matte, is thin, somewhat clingy, matte, and heavier on silicones; and frankly, it was one of the worse-performing silicone-type matte formulas I’ve come across. There are high-quality vegan lipstick formulas, like NARS Lipstick, Natasha Denona I Need a Nude Lipstick, and Urban Decay Lipstick that are creamier, more emollient, and closer to the Amuse Bouche formula (there are also several vegan, silicone-like matte formulas).
The Power Move Soft Matte formula went for a very matte (as opposed to luminous cream, which wasn’t everyone’s favorite as some found it higher maintenance), they released significantly less shades that were all in all… your typical, soft and muted neutral shades, when they were known for a more extensive offering that even included navy green and inky green. They even say “our mission is to make clean beauty less…beige” and talk about having “bold, look-at-me-now color.”
The last iteration of the Amuse Bouche Lipstick range had 40ish shades available, while the launch of their “replacement” released 20 shades. The lack of Lip Pencils remains a mystery, as vegan options already exist from competitors, and it would have made sense for them to launch alongside the lipsticks (or at any point since); for example one of the more popular high-end formulas is Charlotte Tilbury’s Lip Cheat, which has been vegan exists along with Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencils.
There is room for a matte finish from Bite, but all matte and only matte in their return to lipstick–after such a long, long wait–was anticlimactic for those who loved Amuse Bouche. Like if I had wanted a matte lipstick, I wouldn’t care about a return of Amuse Bouche since it had a very creamy finish!
By the by, has anyone else noticed that they’ve kept their Amuse Bouche (or -esque) formula in their Lip Labs? It just seems odd to offer that in-store when they’ve made a big point to be vegan!
Product Ratings Post-Rebrand
Product Ratings Pre-Rebrand
What’s in Bite Beauty’s future?
I hope we’ll see improvements in 2022 and 2023; they have been largely silent with respect to new product launches since summer 2021 with their matte lipstick launch. It’s possible they had other launches planned that are now facing delays that have become commonplace due to the past two years of disruption to supply chains. The brand feels like it’s lost their identity, which may be partially due to the rebrand but also due to increased competition in the “clean beauty” (sigh, I loathe that term!) space. Their reputation for high-quality products has also suffered, which can be tough to come back from as people become more hesitant about new launches due to past experiences.
Looking through their social media, a lot of fans are wondering if certain product are being discontinued, often remarking about products being 50% off., but there are no responses from the brand over the last few months when asked, so we can only speculate… but steep discounts are rarely a good sign, and being often or continuously on sale, also a red flag. It can also be a trap for the brand that ultimately results in consumers becoming less likely to pay full price when they know they can wait a month for a discount (this is an issue that I’ve seen occur with Pat McGrath and Urban Decay in the last few years as well).
Have you found any new favorites from Bite’s relaunches? Have you become a bigger fan of the brand or have moved on?