If you're a cosmetics junkie and wine lover like me, no doubt you've heard about skincare products and makeup that contain some form of beneficial ingredients from wine grapes. Polyphenols in grapes and resveratrol are powerful antioxidants. Grape seed oil extract helps protect skin from free radicals and hydrates at the same time. You'll find these anti-aging ingredients in many products, including the French skincare line Caudalie to 29 Cosmetics, created by Lydia Mondavi, which uses grape seed extract in its skincare and color cosmetics.
Blending all this grapey goodness into beauty products is not groundbreaking. But two newcomers are focusing on what you put on your lips, especially since we all end up ingesting our creamy lipsticks and shiny glosses.
I discovered Bite lipsticks at my local Sephora because I saw the color names were all wine varietals. Of course I had to learn more. "I've always loved lipstick," says Bite Beauty founder Susanne Langmuir. "What really bothered me was that what you are putting on your lips you're essentially eating." Her background is naturals based, consulting on product development for major brands. But she wasn't happy with lip products available in the naturals space. "A lot of these organic lipsticks and cosmetic products really don't perform. They're dry they don't have a great texture."
She also craved a more luxurious experience in terms of texture and eye candy appeal in the packaging. Susanne's goal was "to create something that was up there with a Nars or a Bobbi Brown or a Chanel lipstick in terms of texture application quality and to make it something that was better for you and good enough to eat."
After researching natural ingredients Susanne decided to include age-defying resveratrol, found in the skin of red wine grapes, into each of her lip products. "One of the things that took substantial time for us to develop was the method to incorporate the resveratrol which is a proprietary method that we developed because resveratrol is typically not compatible with oils and waxes." Each lipstick or gloss contains five mg of resveratrol. She equates this to the amount of resveratrol in five glasses of red wine.
Bite's lip glosses and lipsticks are also edible, made with 100 percent food grade ingredients, including the color pigments. I like the wide range of color choices and find them to be sheer to intense depending on your application. The textures are soft and creamy and easy to apply.
In homage to the resveratrol in grapes, Bite names all of its products after wine varietals. My favorite lipsticks are Barolo, a deep blackberry and Rhone, a very wearable red. Notice the lipstick cases, they all have differently shaped tubes. "I wanted to create something that was a little more edgy and sophisticated," says Susanne.
Since launching in March 2011 the Bite Beauty line has grown to more than 77 lip glosses, sticks and pencils, with plans for even more lip products later this year. All are found exclusively at Sephora in store or online. Best sellers are the High Pigment Pencils ($24 ) and the Luminous Creme Lipsticks ($24).
"I just really enjoy the wine experience, and became more interested in learning how wine is made, how to differentiate one kind from another and where and how it's grown," says OenoBeauty founder Julia Polloreno. "I was actually thinking I might study to be a sommelier."
Good thing she didn't, or we might not have her lip glosses and cheek stains. But Julia started thinking about how she could combine her love of wine with creating a natural makeup line. She launched Oenobeauty in June 2012 after three long years of research and development. "I had to start small because I truly learned as I went."
She too wanted natural cosmetics but wasn't happy with what she was finding in stores. "I felt like the packaging was unsophisticated and I didn't want the experience of going to a grocery store and buy my makeup and my skincare. So i started thinking about a way to combine this passion for wine with my desire to create a line of cosmetics and skincare that was natural."
How does someone not in the beauty industry go about creating such a line? Julia worked her connections to eventually find a cosmetic formularist with whom she collaborated. "I was very very uncompromising on the quality of the product and it really being attached to a whole wine experience and not having any kind of toxins or chemicals that are pretty much industry standards."
After several rounds of back and forth, Julia finally came upon the right recipe. Then she had to find someone to produce it. "We had to find a cosmetic manufacturer that would deal in smaller batches and also have the ability to manufacture and specialize in natural cosmetics. A lot of them won't even talk to you if you have a small batch and you are dealing in natural products because they can be harder to get because you're going to places like India. It's not really a turn key easy process for them, but I did find a company that took on our project."
Once they got the lip glosses and blushes right, Julia developed a logo and packing with a graphic designer. She also names her products after wine varietals and blends, such as Champagne and Meritage lip glosses and Grenache and Malbec cheek stains. Her products are available only on her website for now, but she's hoping to place them with national retailers.
"I'm completely self funded," says Julia. She has a day job, two children and is a triathlete, so creating OenoBeauty meant working after hours. "It's taken about three years from the aha moment to where I am today. There's times I've been impatient but I realized that the shortcuts won't really get me to where I want to be in the end. It's been totally worth the extra time and energy and resources and I'm really happy with what it's turned out to be."
OenoBeauty's best sellers are the Grenache blush and both the Bellini and Pinot lip glosses. I like how they go on sheer, but you can always add more for saturated color. The Champagne lip gloss is lots of fun with sparkle.
Julia plans on developing eye makeup and skincare products "to make it a full skincare and makeup brand. It's a marriage of two passions I've had for a long time, wine and cosmetics."