Highsnobiety

It's been a difficult week — Kendall Jenner doesn't know how to cut a cucumber and I finished Bling Empire season two, rendering me temporarily show-less. (Go ahead, call me dramatic.) Adding insult to injury, one of my favorite brands, Bite Beauty, is shuttering after 10 years in business.

Bite announced the news on Instagram, specifying that its Lip Labs — brick-and-mortar shops where customers can create their own lipstick shades — will remain open.

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The move isn't totally unexpected. In April, the brand discounted its entire product range. Sephora, Bite's exclusive retail partner, slashed prices too, fueling speculation that the beauty imprint was on its way out.

Launched in 2012, Bite built a dedicated fanbase for its richly pigmented lipsticks, formulated with "clean" ingredients — a rarity at the time. In fact, Bite lipsticks were food-grade, meaning they were quite literally good enough to eat. (They also smelled delicious — kind of like pomegranate juice.)

Chic packaging and striking campaign imagery lent Bite a high-fashion feel, quickly earning its creamy lipsticks and cult-favorite lipliners a spot in makeup hall of fame.

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In 2014, the brand was acquired by Kendo, the LVMH-owned beauty incubator. Things seemed copacetic but in 2019, Bite discontinued its entire range. In January 2020, it relaunched with all-vegan formulas and new packaging.

For its first post-rebrand release, Bite branched out into a totally new category: complexion. Its Changemaker foundation, primer, and powder worked well (in fact, I exclusively used Bite's foundation for a couple of years), but they never really caught on.

The reformulated lip products fell short, too. Brand loyalists were disappointed that Bite removed lanolin (derived from sheep's wool — not vegan!) from its Agave Lip Balm, formerly a fan favorite. And many found its Power Move lipsticks overly matte, a far cry from Bite's beloved Amuse Bouche, a creamy yet lightweight formula.

Further deterring customers, Bite shrunk its range of lipstick shades. Gone were Bite's bold, look-at-me shades of red, plum, yellow, and green. Instead, Power Move was offered in more conservative browns, pinks, and mauves.

Instead of remedying its lipsticks, Bite doubled down on complexion and launched a cream blush in March 2021. (Honestly, I didn't know the product existed until yesterday.) By then, the brand had alienated many of its core customers.

On Reddit, a goldmine of unfiltered opinions on all things beauty, former Bite fans seem to agree: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

"I adored their old lip colour lineup," a user by the name of MrsLadybug70 wrote. "Nori! Gazpacho! Ballsy, fun colours that smelled and tasted great (weird, I know). Then they switched up their lipstick formula... the new lipstick colours were dull, and exclusively matte. They also spread themselves thin on the ground by branching out into other products."

"Everyone knows if you make a cult favourite, you don’t mess with the formula," MarsScully commented. Indeed.

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