Agave+ Weekly Lip Scrub
Bite Beauty’s Agave+ Weekly Lip Scrub delivers on its promise to buff away flaky skin… but almost to a fault as the gritty sugar particles are overly rough on delicate lip skin.
Housed in a pot, the bulk of this scrub is made up of sucrose (sugar), squalane, glycerin, and sunflower oil, resulting in a granular consistency that mimics the look and feel of crystalized honey.
The solid texture slightly thins out to a syrupy finish as it rubs against the warmth of your lips—yet the jagged granules never fully break down. Instead of a gentle exfoliating experience you end up with a scratchy, abrasive one that can impair lips’ delicate barrier.
The added “papaya enzymes” (listed as papain) further complicates matters with the potential to aggravate compromised skin. Granted, papain’s contact time with skin is limited in a wipe-off scrub such as this, but it’d be a safer bet without it.
That’s disappointing considering the otherwise good mix of emollients and replenishing ingredients to facilitate a soft, smooth feel. We appreciate that the vanilla extract in this formula comes from one of the few aromatic plants considered to be non-sensitizing to skin. The combination of vanilla, agave and sugar lend a sweet flavor if the formula inadvertently makes its way to your taste buds. (Not that we’re encourage anyone to eat this, but it’s a possibility that you’ll ingest some due to messy application).
We also have to point out that the jar packaging isn’t ideal from a hygiene standpoint since this contains water which can support the growth of microbes. (Learn more about the cons of jar packaging via More Info below.)
The bottom line: There are better, gentler lip scrubs out there.
- Buffs away flaky skin.
- Contains some beneficial emollients and replenishing ingredients.
- Formulated with non-sensitizing flavoring agents.
- Jagged sugar particles are overly rough, which can impede lips’ delicate barrier.
- Contains potentially sensitizing papain.
- Chunky consistency can be messy to apply.
- Jar packaging isn't ideal for hygiene.
Why Fragrance Is a Problem for Skin: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.
This reaction in turn leads to all kinds of problems, including disrupting skin’s barrier, worsening dryness, increasing or triggering redness, depleting vital substances in skin’s surface, and generally preventing skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.
A surprising fact: Even though you can’t always see or feel the negative effects of fragrant ingredients on skin, the damage will still be taking place, even if it’s not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don’t need to see or feel the effects of irritation for your skin to be suffering. Much like the effects from cumulative sun damage, the negative impact and the visible damage from fragrance may not become apparent for a long time.
References for this information:
Toxicology In Vitro, February 2018, pages 237-245
Toxicological Sciences, January 2018, pages 139-148
Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, pages 191–202
International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement, pages 1–43
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
Jar Packaging: Beneficial anti-aging ingredients, which include all plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients, are unstable, which means they begin to break down in the presence of air. Once a jar is opened and lets air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate, becoming less and less effective. Routine exposure to daylight is also problematic for these ingredients.
Jar packaging is also unsanitary because you dip your fingers into the jar with each use, contaminating the product. This stresses the preservative system, especially in water-based formulas, leading to further deterioration of the beneficial ingredients.
Remember: The ingredients that provide the most benefit in addressing visible signs of aging must be in airtight or air-restrictive packaging to remain effective throughout usage. Buying products in this type of packaging means that the ingredients have the best chance of remaining effective—to the benefit of your skin.
References for this information:
Molecules, July 2018, ePublication
Pharmacology Review, July 2013, pages 97–106
Dermatologic Therapy, May-June 2012, pages 252–259
Current Drug Delivery, November 2011, pages 640–660
Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, May 2011, pages 4676–4683
Journal of Biophotonics, January 2010, pages 82–88
Guidelines of Stability Testing of Cosmetic Products, Colipa-CTFA, March 2004, pages 1–10
Get your lips ready for action with this innovative lip scrub. Fair-trade sugar exfoliates and papaya enzymes help melt away flakes. Post-scrub, lips feel smooth, soft, and conditioned. It helps balms absorb better and lipstick look more even. It’s gentle enough to use weekly, or whenever the mood strikes.
Strengths: Richly pigmented Cashmere Lip Cream; several beautiful lip color options; a couple balm-like products to soothe chapped lips; good lip exfoliant; the bulk of the formulas contain natural ingredients that are beneficial (or at least not harmful) for the skin and lips.
Weaknesses: Cinnamon Plumping Lip Oil is extremely irritating; some of the lip colors tend to bleed; flavored formulas are tempting to lick off, which can lead to chapping and dryness; not all their ingredients are natural, many products contain synthetic coloring agents Bite Beauty is a Canadian-based cosmetics company centered on lip-care and lip-color products formulated with natural ingredients. Although the natural spin is attractive to some consumers, it doesn't necessarily translate into better or safer cosmetics (read this article for more info).
As a nice change of pace (and as mentioned above), the majority of Bite Beauty's formulas do indeed contain natural ingredients that are beneficial (or at least not harmful) for the skin and lips. The exception is the Cinnamon Plumping Lip Oil, which contains an irritating amount of peppermint oil. The preponderance of natural ingredients doesn't make these products inherently better, but if a product being "all" natural is important to you, then you should know that some of the Bite Beauty products contain synthetic coloring agents.
Bite Beauty takes things even further, saying that their products are "healthy enough to eat" (hence the name Bite Beauty). We certainly don't recommend eating your cosmetics; just because an ingredient comes from a natural source and is then formulated into a cosmetic doesn't mean it's edible!
As a matter of fact, Bite Beauty's naturally flavored products make it tempting to lick your lips, which in the long run can lead to chapping and a cycle of constantly applying more flavored lip balm, licking it off, then feeling the urgent need to apply more, and none of these lip products should be eaten. For vegans, you should be aware that some of these products contain lanolin, which is an animal-derived ingredient. There's nothing wrong with lanolin, but a cosmetics company selling their products as edible should be more forthcoming with this issue for those who wish to avoid animal-derived ingredients.
Another big marketing ploy is Bite Beauty's claims about their products containing the antioxidant resveratrol, in amounts equivalent to five, ten, or fifteen glasses of red wine, depending on the particular product. This is a meaningless claim, and here's why: First, we hope they don't mean a dual benefit; that is, being able to eat your lipstick and get resveratrol onto your lips and into your body. Second, while resveratrol is a great antioxidant, how much you need to gain a health benefit is unclear from the research. Third, the amount of resveratrol in an average glass of red wine ranges from 0.2 to 2.0 mg, which isn't much. Plus, if you want resveratrol, you can buy resveratrol supplements that contain 100500 mg per capsule!
In short, resveratrol is a good antioxidant, when applied topically or when consumed; just don't get caught up in thinking it will work wonders for your lips. Clearly, Bite Beauty is capitalizing on a buzz ingredient here, and skin care, especially for the lips, is never as simple as one ingredient, however good it may be.
Those issues aside, in terms of performance, Bite Beauty does have some standout products, including their richly pigmented Cashmere Lip Cream. The price point is on the high end for lip care (you can find less expensive options on our Best Lip Products list); you certainly don't have to pay this much to get a good lipstick or gloss. However, if the price isn't an issue for you, and you find the allure of natural ingredients hard to resist, then this line is worth checking out.
Bite Beauty is sold exclusively at Sephora; the brand also has a flagship store in New York.
For more information about Bite Beauty, call 416-961-1234 or visit www.bitebeauty.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.