If your algorithm is anything like mine, you can't fire up Instagram without being served an ad for an impeccably designed clean beauty brand — or five, for that matter. Such was how I was first introduced to Merit, but lest you believe this is just another greenwashed makeup moment, think again. The luxury brand is all about a curated wardrobe of clean makeup essentials — a less-is-more directive I myself have been trying to adopt in my own life.
Merit's formulation M.O. focuses on safe ingredients that are free of hormone or endocrine disrupters. Every product is formulated in accordance with the EU's safety standards and is also Clean at Sephora certified. (The brand is also vegan and certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny.)
To test the brand out for myself, I was generously gifted a selection of Merit's bestsellers to see if they were worth the rave reviews. Ahead, keep reading for the six products that I’ll definitely keep in my rotation.
Eager to do a full Merit face beat, I started off with The Minimalist – Merit's hero base product with buildable coverage. (You may recognize it as a winner from last year's Beauty Innovator Awards.) The texture is insanely smooth and buttery, and truly glides on like a crayon. I opted for the shade Linen, which was a little lighter than my natural skin tone but still worked to brighten my overall complexion. (My face is naturally more tan than the rest of my body, so I tend to go a shade lighter to balance things out.)
Since the tip of the product is designed to be used for both precise application and allover coverage, I appreciated that it was on the smaller side. I tend to avoid cream-based foundations and concealers because they can sometimes feel heavy on my oily skin, but this one was surprisingly lightweight and comfortable. At $38, the stuff isn't cheap for the amount of product you get. However, if you already tend to splurge on luxury foundations compared to other steps, this is a product you'll definitely love.
I hoard lip oils like there's no tomorrow and probably own at least ten tubes in varying shades of neutral beige. Between the non-greasy, hydrating texture and glossy finish, I truly can't get enough. Now that you have the important context, it'll mean even more that Merit's Shade Slick have become my daily go-tos. (I'm holding my favorite shade, Taupe, above. Au Naturel, in the background, is another one I love.) Unlike many glosses and oils, this one actually delivers visible pigment — but not too much. I probably need it in even more shades.
What can I say? I live for a cream blush moment. Merit's Flush Balm has been courting me on my social media feeds for months now, so this was probably the product I was most excited to try from the brand. I'm wearing the shade Terracotta above, which is a luminous bronze-y rose. I don't personally gravitate towards pinks, so this one was perfect for my olive skin. Also, the sheer, dewy finish makes it very hard for you to mess it up — it took me less than ten seconds to dot and blend this on my cheekbones. Next time, I might add a powder bronzer to enhance the pigment, but it's still pretty on its own.
Next up was Day Glow, a balmy luminous highlighter. Like everything I'd tried so far, the texture of this stuff was very hydrating. (For dry skin folks, this is probably music to your ears.) I got the shade Cava, a shimmery champagne. I swathed it across my lids and high points of the face as a highlight, and the overall effect was very subtle — which is how I like my glow. Since I didn't prep or set my lids, it started to crease an hour or so in; this isn't a big deal for me, but I'm sure it could be easily solved with some eyeshadow primer or by setting it with pressed shadow in a similar shade. I will say, $30 for this seems a little steep for me. I will definitely use this up, but will probably allocate my monies elsewhere in the Merit family if it came time to repurchase.
I know this is going to sound dramatic, but this might be my favorite mascara. Ever. I wasn't prepared to love it this much, but it is truly perfect in every way. (In the photo above, my right eye has a few coats of Clean Lash. My left eye is mascara-free.) As you can see, it creates the fluffiest lashes imaginable. The packaging is also insanely luxe and beautifully designed — applying it made me feel like a fucking boss. Because it's a tubing mascara, it's naturally smudge-resistant but is easily removed with warm water or remover. It's also literally impossible to clump — and I know because I tried to mess it up and my lashes just looked better. It's currently sold out, but is 100% worth the wait. I'm very impressed.
This cream lipstick is Merit's latest launch, but I'm already projecting it to be a hit. The texture feels like a hydrating balm, but with a beautiful veil of color. My two favorite shades (pictured above) are Slip, a neutral beige, and Tiger, a warm cocoa-red. Neither feels super lipstick-y (i.e., you can still drink and kiss people without it getting everywhere), and best of all, doesn't require a mirror to apply. The shade range is pretty limited, which I actually like because each one feels very unique. Again, the packaging is a total 11/10, and one I can't wait to brandish in public.
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