Today I’m sharing my Merit Beauty Review.
Over the last six months, I have made a point to try nearly every single product from Merit Beauty’s line. Since this brand is having such a moment right now, I wanted to be thorough!
As a mom of two tiny girls who has *exactly* 4 minutes to apply makeup in the morning, I’ve been very impressed with Merit Beauty. The products are unbelievably easy to use and come in the most beautiful shades.
I love the branding, the clean ingredient formulas, and, perhaps most of all, the dewy finish their products leave. These products are for the woman on the go, easy to apply, and look gorgeous on a vanity.
In this post, I’ll share some info on the brand, answer a few FAQ’s, and share my honest thoughts on each of the 10 products I have tested the last few months.
Merit is a luxury clean beauty brand based in LA.The brand was founded in 2021 by Katherine Power of Versed Skincare and Who What Wear.
Merit’s “modern minimalist” brand mission resonated with me right away. Katherine Power founded the brand as an antidote to the overwhelming beauty industry. The product line is intentionally simple, and the products are designed to accentuate the natural beauty of those who use them.
Merit aims to streamline beauty routines with easy-to-use products that have been carefully and thoughtfully developed with a natural “no makeup” makeup look in mind. Merit places an emphasis on “responsible luxury,” meaning they make products that are good for the body, skin, and planet.
Ultimately, my take is that Merit’s product line is for the busy mom, the makeup beginner, and the jetsetting traveler who wants a streamlined routine.
Something I LOVE about Merit Beauty is that their makeup products are also made with nourishing ingredients like olive oil and Vitamin E that hydrate and leave your skin better, not worse. After a long day, my skin doesn’t feel “gross” like it would after wearing a set of heavier, cakier products.
And while I haven’t been obsessed with every last product (we’ll get to that in a minute), I am still a huge fan of the brand and use many of the products on a daily basis.
Merit is certified cruelty free through Leaping Bunny.
Merit holds a high bar when it comes to ingredients. All of their products are formulated to EU standards and meet the criteria for Sephora’s clean beauty program. Merits products are non-toxic and made without parabens or sulfates. They also make a point to leave out any inflammation-triggering ingredients.
Merit has also omitted any ingredients on the famous Biba de Sousa’s “no list” which includes 73 products that are known to trigger acne.
For what it’s worth, I have really sensitive skin and have had no issues with any of Merit’s products.
Here are my honest thoughts on everything I’ve tried from Merit Beauty so far.
Kicking things off strong, Merit’s Flush Balm Cream Blush is one of my favorite products from their line. The packaging is really unique and fun to use–you basically swipe on the product and blend it out with either just your fingers or a beauty blender. I love the finish of this cream blush. Like many of their products, it’s dewy, hydrating, and lays perfectly on the skin.
I have tried and loved three different shades: Beverly Hills is a very subtle, muted peach. This is an excellent choice if you don’t love the look of a pinky blush but still want to add a bit of natural color to the tops of your cheeks.
Stockholm is my favorite. It’s a gorgeous baby pink that looks good with every makeup look and just makes me look more “alive.” I find myself reaching for this over any other blush I own.
And I just recently tried Rouge which is a BRIGHT red that gives you a slightly sunburned look. When I first opened this shade, I thought I would hate it. Once I blended it in, though, I loved how naturally sunkissed it made me look. This is a fun one for summertime.
The Solo Shadow is a cream based matte eye shadow that comes in a cute little pot and is meant to be applied with either a brush or your finger. The cream-to-powder formula means that the product applies as a cream but dries nicely and doesn’t crease at all. I love a cream eye shadow because I find it easier to apply without any fall out (the sprinkle of shadow underneath your eyes that powders leave when you blend them in).
The Solo Shadow comes in eight beautiful shades: four neutrals and four “statement” colors. The Solo Shadow’s formula is very pigmented, but it’s also buildable–a choose-your-own adventure, if you will. One thing to note is that the formula does set quickly, so you do have to blend it right away.
I have the Solo Shadow in Social, a soft mauve. I love this shade because it brings out the green in my eyes and pairs nicely with the rest of my eye shadow collection. I’ll often use this as a base and contour under some of my favorite lighter shades.
You can use the Solo Shadow as a traditional eye shadow over the lid or as a liner.
Merit’s Brush No. 2 Eyeshadow Brush is a dual-ended brush that has a soft, fluffy blending brush on one side and a thin, pointy brush on the other. I didn’t think I would care about this because I usually just use my fingers for eyeshadow like a five-year-old. However, I have been experimenting with using the finer side of the brush to apply the Solo Shadow as if it were a liquid liner, and I am actually loving it! The brush is very soft and easy to use, even for me.
The Bronze Balm is another staple product from Merit. I have been using this as a contour wand and apply it under my cheekbones, on my forehead, the side of my nose, and a little on the jawline. It blends easily with my beauty blender and provides buildable coverage, just like the rest of the line. I have also used it a handful of times as an eye contour, on days I don’t want to do eyeshadow but still want to look a little more awake.
Something I like about this product is that the finish is a little glowy with just the slightest glimmer to it. The Bronze Balm leaves a dewy, not-cakey finish which I really appreciate.
It is not as “potent” as my ride-or-die Westman Atelier contour stick which means I have to do a few more swipes to get the desired amount. That being said, since the finish is more sheer and buildable, I think this would be a no-brainer choice for someone who is just dipping their toe into the contouring world. It’s nearly impossible to mess up.
Merit’s Bronze Balm comes in five shades. I use Clay.
The messaging behind Merit’s Minimalist Complexion Stick is, in my opinion, needlessly complicated. The website says it is “not a foundation or concealer but will replace both in your makeup bag.” I believe what they are trying to say is that you can use it as either a foundation or a concealer or both.
Despite the raving reviews, I personally have not totally gotten the hang of this product and haven’t loved the finish. The product just doesn’t quite lay right on me, and I think it might be because my skin is so dry. I could see it working totally fine on other skin types. One other thing I can’t totally get behind is the amount of product. Since this is supposed to replace your foundation, I have a hard time picturing the fairly small stick lasting very long if you are applying it all over your face daily.
Merit’s Day Glow Highlighting Balm is another great product for the girl who only has the capacity for a five minute makeup regimen in the morning. It’s the same as the rest of their products: swipe, swipe, blend. The highlighter in particular is very easy to blend with your finger, and the entire operation takes 20 seconds or less.
I like this highlighter stick a lot because it lays nicely without settling into the creases around my eyes. The finish is perfect too: not too shimmery and a little glassy. Personally I do not love a powdery, glittery highlight, so this product is perfect for me. I will again compare it to my favorite-ever highlight stick from Westman Atelier: it’s not quite as glassy (which is what I absolutely love about the WA one) but still very good. The quality is proportional to the price difference, if that makes sense.
I have this in the Cava which is a sort of peachy champagne that is perfect for daytime or if you prefer a very subtle highlight. I use this on the top of my cheekbones, the ridge of my nose, along my brow bone, and on my collarbones if I’m feeling extra.
Merit’s Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil is a 10/10 for me. This is a truly hydrating lip color that isn’t sticky or drying and comes in the most beautiful colors. I am the type of person that feels safest when I have at least 3 lip options in my purse, and I have found myself reaching for the Merit lip oils more than anything else this last month.
The lip oil comes in two separate lines: The Classics and The Gelées. The Classics provide a pigmented, buildable wash of color (except for Bel Air which is a clear gloss), while The Gelées are a collection of sheer oils that build off your lip’s natural pH to leave a subtle stain that appears different on everyone. The Gelées reminds me a lot of Dior’s Addict Lip Glow line and at a much gentler price point to boot!
I have tried two shades of the lip oil: Au Natural is from The Classics collection and is a gorgeous warm peach that will be perfect for summertime date nights. (This shade pairs really well with the Rogue blush balm!).
And I am obsessed with the Jeté shade from The Gelées collection which is a sheer nude that I wear either by itself or with a liner like Charlotte Tillburty’s Pillowtalk or Makeup Forever’s Anywhere Caffeine. My lips are kind of colorless especially when they are dry, so I love that this product brings them to life even on days when I’m not wearing any makeup at all.
Merit’s Clean Lash Mascara is, to me, just okay. I will say that the tubing formula does what it says it will do: lengthens lashes and stays put. It goes on nicely and doesn’t clump. The reason I don’t love this mascara is because it didn’t really add any volume for me. In comparing it to my go-to Thrive mascara, the Merit mascara simply falls flat. Another thing I really disliked was that it was very difficult to remove.
Merit’s Brow 1980 a good solid brow pomade. I brush my eyebrows up and slightly over with this, and it provides a boost of volume and color that helps shape my whole face.
This formula is not as strong as some other gels I’ve tried, but I actually prefer a softer formula so my brows don’t look crunchy (I don’t love the stiff, over-laminated look on me). One thing I really appreciate about this brow gel is that it is not messy or clumpy. It’s very thin and easy to get right. I hate when I have to go back in with a tissue or q-tip to fix a messy brow gel–who’s got the time??
The Brow 1980 comes in three shades, and I use it in Brown.
The Great Skin Instant Glow Serum is a tricky one. Made with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and cacao seed extract, this serum was formulated to hydrate, plump, and brighten skin.
My biggest qualm with Merit’s Great Skin serum is the applicator. I first tried this in the store at Sephora and was horrified when the product splashed all over my hand and shirt sleeve. I thought that may have been just a fluke and ordered it anyway a few months later because I really wanted to test the product again for this blog post. When it arrived, though, the same thing happened. I think the product is simply too thin for the type of pump it comes in. I have the hang of it now, but it’s not ideal.
The other thing I don’t love about the product is that it takes a while to absorb. As I said, the formula is very thin and watery and sort of sits on top of the skin rather than absorbing as you rub it in.
Once it absorbs, I can see why people like this serum. It does brighten and plump my skin which, I suppose, is all you can ask for out of a daytime serum. Overall, though, it’s not life changing, and I probably will not repurchase.
Overall, I am a fan of Merit’s simple, dewy line of products. Merit is perfect for those who want a no-nonsense, streamlined makeup routine. The products couldn’t be easier to use, don’t look cakey, and leave a glowy finish.
I love that the products are all good for my skin and made without harsh ingredients. I also feel that most of their products are well-priced for what you are getting.
And since this is, first and foremost, a travel blog, I’d be remiss not to mention that Merit’s products are compact and SO easy to travel with. And since the products are all cream based, you don’t need to bring a bunch of brushes. You can totally get away with just packing one beauty blender and calling it a day.
If you’re interested in trying out Merit Beauty, I recommend starting with the Blush Balm and the Solo Shadow, as those are the two standout stars for me. After that, I’d go for the Lip Oil, the Bronze Balm, and the Highlighting Balm.
Setting spray tip: One tip I have for using Merit products is to lock everything in with a good setting spray. Since these are cream products, they need a little extra help holding on long days. My favorite is from Charlotte Tillbury.
It seems like Merit does not do a ton of sales. Your best bet is to wait for either Cyber Week/Black Friday or Sephora’s biannual savings event.
Merit includes their Signature makeup bag with every first purchase on their website, and it looks like they are sending out this stunning gold lighter with $75+ purchases right now too which is so fun!
Looking for more beauty recommendations, reviews, and the details on my morning and night skincare? Click here.
It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?