Bite Beauty Founder Susanne Langmuir (Photo: Bite Beauty)
In the three years since she founded the all-natural lip line Bite Beauty, Toronto-based Susanne Langmuir has created something of a lipstick frenzy. First came the launch of her high-pigment lip colors made of food-grade ingredients and then the 2013 opening of her Soho, New York Lip Lab, where artisans custom blend lipstick on-the-spot, sparking lines before the store even opens for business. Here, Langmuir talks about the power of lip color, her passion for food, and her beauty essentials.
I was a bit of a tomboy when I was younger. I wasn’t overly comfortable with a lot of makeup, but lipstick has been the one thing that I always go to to finish my look and pull everything together. It’s just very accessible. I think lipstick is the one beauty accessory that all women can relate to. It doesn’t really matter what your attitude is on beauty — every woman has a great lipstick that she carries with her, whether it’s a color that’s worn every day or a red that transforms into a more formal look.
My background is in sourcing natural ingredients, so I spent about 10 years traveling around the world, working with growers and producers, and linking them to cosmetics manufacturers and private label development. For me, it’s a real connection to the nutrient-rich benefits you get from things that are grown, harvested, and handpicked over functional synthetics. I saw an opportunity to build a lab that only had these ingredients and to find a way to work with them. Essentially, what you put on your lips you also ingest, so the reliability of using things that are food-based was really appealing.
Bite Beauty’s Butter Cream Lipstick Collection (Photo: Bite Beauty)
We’re small batch. The average lipstick production in a larger facility is upwards of 40,000 pieces a day and we do about 2,000. It’s my feeling that when you’re closer to the process and you’ve got a smaller batch and you’re using your hands, you’ve got more flexibility to work with ingredients that are more sensitive. It’s a lot like cooking: There’s something about using your hands and doing things in a smaller way that creates something special.
At Bite Beauty’s Lip Lab in New York, experts custom blend shades for shoppers (Photo: Bite Beauty)
I’m definitely a foodie. I was a vegetarian for close to 20 years and I just started eating meat again, so now it’s this whole new dimension of food and flavor. Mostly what I specialized in when I was sourcing raw materials was essential oils and flavors used in the fragrance and flavor industry. I have a real connection to the subtlety of some ingredients and how they taste and how you can balance really strong flavors in a subtle way. Cooking is one of the few things I do every day that resets the balance and pulls me out of my head. I just bought a farm in Ontario with 53 acres and I’m looking into various things I can grow and play with there. I spent a year in the south of France and learned about wine. The antioxidant resveratrol found in wine is a signature ingredient we started with.
At Bite Beauty’s Lip Lab in New York, consumers can also select which fragrance to add to their custom lipsticks (Photo: Bite Beauty)
I make most of my skincare myself. I have about 300 ingredients that I’ve sourced and keep in my kitchen. I tend to keep my formulas pretty simple using a lot of essential oils like rosehip and jojoba. I’m always applying oil to moist skin. I’ve been using a lot of Ole Henriksen products, which have great natural ingredients that aren’t overly complicated and really effective. I do their Lemon-Strip Flash Peel ($48) once a week — it exposes a fresher layer of skin.
I love our Tannin Luminous Crème Lipstick ($24). It’s a classic, beautiful, day-to-night red. I also love our Pepper Luminous Crème Lipstick ($24) — it’s one of those effortless lip-tone shades you can apply without a mirror when you’re rushing off to something.