The organic beauty brand making natural cosmetics sexy

The organic beauty brand making natural cosmetics sexy

Bite me

Text: Yeong Sassall

Yeong Sassall chats to Bite Beauty founder Susanne Langmuir about being an organic beauty trailblazer

Natural. OrganicNourishing. It's not really the first thing that comes to mind when you pick up one of Bite Beauty's sleek and sexily packaged Amuse Bouche  lipsticks or liquid lipsticks. Thanks to a range of uber-pigmented, highly flattering lip colours and lip products, Bite Beauty is nothing like your average organic beauty range. Of course, that's entirely the point behind this Toronto-born brand: quality before gimmicky ingredient lists. And thanks to ahost of industry awards and accolades, it seems Bite Beauty has won more than a few fans. 

Read on to discover more about the all-natural lip colour and lip care brand.

Where did the idea for Bite Beauty come from?
I had spent a year living in the South of France, [which] was amazing. You know, it was so easy to eat well - great whole foods. The market came into our village every week, and products were natural and organic, and not because they were trying to prove anything. They just live differently. I came back to Toronto and I couldn't find high performance, efficacious, natural products. So I started formulating.

I love the name Bite because, it's something edgy and has a bit of tooth to it. Bite is edible, natural, food grade.  I had also heard that the average woman applies lipstick 5 to 7 times day and ingests 5-7 pounds. So I wanted something that had a hand-feel to it, with a nice texture. And I'm not using petro chemicals, siliconne or petroleum.

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When you decided that you wanted it organic, was it hard to then nail the formulation?
Oh yeah. [laughs] It was really hard, because I had about 15 years of working with essential oils. I mean, I had formulation experience. But in colour cosmetics, I went to the private label manufactures and unanimously they said, 'This is impossible. You can't. That is kind of a lofty plan.' So I wound up hiring a chemist and doing all of our formulation in-house and now we have a team of chemists. So it was hard and it required a different approach that was not typical in cosmetic manufacturing.

Did you find it hard to convince people because it's not your typical approach?
Yeah well, I was flat out told no. What I found really difficult was the idea of convincing people that natural could be high performance. And there were so many beauty brands that had launched being natural and organic, that didn't work. So, you didn't have great texture or you didn't have a  great colour range, so that was one of the biggest obstacles.

So when we launched Bite, I focused on performance and a bit of edginess with the colour range and being on-trend. And we didn't really talk about natural at all. The first couple of years, unless you knew what you were looking for, and you turned the box over and read the ingredients, we didn't make that a reason for being. That was seven years ago.

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Have you noticed a shift from then to now? Obviously organic is a big thing now...
I think there was a slow burn for skincare. And now more and more brands are truly using natural ingredients and avoiding ingredients that we know aren't super helpful for skin. Natural skin care has been evolving very slowly, very steadily, for years. And now cosmetics are coming.

It's happening more rapidly and I think that you have a consumer that is educating themselves and making different choices, and asking different questions. None of us want to use lipsticks that dry our lips or don't work. So the demand for things that work isn't going away but if you can achieve that with healthy ingredients then why wouldn't you? I think Bite was a bit early and I feel really fortunate that we did it in a way where people liked the brand and then got that we used natural ingredients.

It's always nice that you got that validation that the products worked first.
Yes it's pretty amazing. Everyone has their own definition of natural too. There are a couple of pigments that I use that are not natural because we wouldn't have an orange red or we wouldn't have a bright undertone on some of our shades. I find that there has been an all or nothing view, that either you're completely natural or it doesn't matter. I don't think that the rules need to be that defined. You can be 97 percent certified organic and there might be three per cent red 7.

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Did you put a lot of thought into the packaging?
Oh yeah... If you just feel the weight of containers, the texture, the magnetic cap on the lid... it has a very luxurious kind of [fell]. I remember having a bit of resistance the dark grey [packaging] seven years ago but, I think it's kind of timeless.

It's funny how those little things, like the way something feels in your hand, actually has a huge bearing on our attraction to a product.
I think any detail, the detail that you don't notice, that kind of emotional detail is the stuff that matters. A lot of thought goes into maintaining our standards - the shapes to our caps, the way things feel. Those are some of the things that we thought about. What would be classic, yet modern at the same time.

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At the moment it's just lips. Will you stick with that or would you ever expand into another category?
Previously I would have said no, because natural ingredients and lipstick is something that we really had to focus on to get it right. But I think there are advances and new ingredients coming out that are coconut-derived or made from squalin instead of silicone. They provide functionality and technically high performance. So I play around with a lot of stuff by myself right now.

You know, I have a chemist working on a formula for a transparent bullet that is 100 per cent natural. And 95-96 per cent oil, so it's an oil in a stick. Those ingredients didn't exist a year ago. We actually have to wait to launch it because this new ingredient has to be certified in North America before we can formulate with it. So, when I move out of lip I would be open to it. But products would have to work and they have to be natural. I wouldn't consider doing unless those things are possible.

Bite Beauty is available at

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