By now I'm on the record as loving almost everything about Bite Beauty lipsticks, from the delicious packaging (exhibit A at right there) to the high-quality ingredients and plain old performance. The only thing I don't enjoy is the outlay; down here in NZ, we pay around $40 for a full sized lipstick plus postage, and that's painful.
So bless these little Amuse Bouche units and their more modest price point. They're around half the size of a regular tube but let's be honest- how many shades have you legit worn down to the bone before you tired of them? Lipsticks are the other risky hookup; you have to tongue a lot of dross to find the classic keepers, so it's best not to invest too much in randoms.
Bite Liquorice is a deep, velvety blackened red with a surprisingly traditional matte finish that is somewhat uncharacteristic of the brand, at least in my experience.
Other Bite stuff claims matte territory but they're usually more medium satin if truth be strictly told; for me, Liquorice is the first to nudge that designation almost literally, at least when brushed on and especially after 20 mins. It certainly dries down. Not saying we're in MAC Retro Matte country but many casual punters may not appreciate the loss of that supple emollience they're expecting from this brand.
Shade-wise, Liquorice is a wee bit polymorphic, shifting from a deep cherry with slight rosy blue tones toward the proper oxblood of the official description in some lights, becoming truly sanguine. Sometimes there is brown involved, sometimes there is not. From the online pics I thought we'd be looking at more of a Nars Cruella/MAC Dubonnet-type warm red. Dark, dirty garnet is what you get instead, both in the tube and on the lip.
How do you know if you can pull this stuff off without ending up in a puddle of oh honey no? Strong features help. My rule of thumb- the visual weight of the Liquorice (et al) on your lips should be equivalent to at least one other element on your face. In my case, my dark googly eyes are a match for a heavy lip situation. Conversely, deeper complexions, particularly of the cooler persuasion, can carry Liquorice with gay abandon. It just might be that HG secksy midnight red you were looking for.
But you know what really sells me on this shade? The tenacity of the opacity. Deep lip devotees know it's one thing to achieve a righteous level of inky darkness- keeping it that way is a whole nother kettle of bananas. The moment you smile or blink or press your lips together, it starts with the janky stunting, receding from the midst of the lip, settling into lines and separating out into ugly patchiness.
If Liquorice looks that way where I've piled it on haphazardly in the swatches, disregard because a miracle occurs on the lip. When applied thickly enough to yield maximal charred ruby goodness, this stuff holds pretty tight, barely sneaking into creases and most importantly, not succumbing to that ugly dodge-and-blot splotchy matte effect. Liquorice builds to an homogenous black tulip truffle and stays like that- intact and coherent- for a good couple of hours. No primer required.
To summarise: slightly drier and perhaps more trad-matte than you might expect but the superlatively even colour payoff for this sort of shade is outstanding. Fuck/Marry/Kill? Lock down hard and die holding hands.
This is sludgy midwinter light with a slight yellow cast that resisted correction. It's pulling the darker shades around 5% browner than they appear on the lip (if you know Sin, you'll see what I mean).