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There are two types of makeup brands that stand out in the crowded market today: those that have countless one-trick products to choose from, and the more conservative brands that limit their lineup to a selection of staple products. And while I once appreciated having an overstuffed makeup bag full of colorful eyeliners, bright blushes, and multi-hued matte lipsticks, I’m starting to understand that less really is more, especially after going virtually a year without wearing makeup during the pandemic.
It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy applying and wearing makeup every day, but with a schedule that only seems to increase in busyness and a stretched budget due to increasing costs and inflation, I don’t have as much time or money to invest in makeup as I once did. This means I’ve been much more strategic about what brands I’ll buy from and what products I’ll purchase lately. Enter: Merit Beauty—a relatively new vegan and cruelty-free makeup brand that boasts a small lineup of essential makeup products. The minimalist makeup brand launched with a commitment to producing clean makeup that doesn’t use hormone or endocrine-disrupting ingredients, so you can wear their products knowing it’s good for you and good for the world.
We tried five of Merit Beauty’s popular products, and while that may not sound like a huge sampling, the brand only offers a total of eight products, so it’s definitely a less-is-more makeup brand! See below for our thoughts on Merit Beauty’s products, including their fantastic concealer stick and the shockingly long-lasting highlighter.
The Minimalist — Perfecting Concealer Stick
I’ll be honest and say this product is an absolute game-changer for me. The act of applying just the right amount of concealer to hide my blemishes and dark circles, followed by a smattering of foundation, takes up more time than I’d like to admit, so it’s nice to have a multi-use product that acts as both concealer and foundation to save me time and money.
Merit Beauty’s concealer stick is petite but packs a punch with how little you need to cover imperfections and blend the makeup into your skin. It doesn’t give you a full coverage look, but instead gives you a natural, medium-finish look that still looks like skin. I was a bit nervous that this product would dry out my skin, but it was actually very creamy and moisturizing and glided on without being the least bit greasy.
It worked wonderfully as an under-eye concealer and everyday foundation, and even eight hours into the workday it was still as present as it was when I applied it that morning. The real trick with the concealer stick is knowing exactly what shade to wear, but Merit Beauty features photographs of models wearing every shade of The Minimalist – Perfecting Concealer Stick, so you should be able to identify exactly what shade you need to order to match your skin.
I always have fun with blush. While you can certainly create a fun look with playful eyeliners and seductive shadows, there’s something to be said for a perfect blush – one that compliments your skin and brightens up your whole face with just a few swipes.
What I immediately appreciated about Merit Beauty’s Flush Balm was how easily the balm applied over the apples of my cheeks, giving them a beautifully pigmented, but super-natural look. I took the balm and applied it directly with two swipes over each of my cheeks before blending it into my skin with Merit’s Brush No.1. I even used the cheek balm as impromptu lipstick a few times to great effect.
I personally love the Flush Blam in the Cheeky shade, a sweet soft pink, but the brand also offers peach, burgundy, cream, and berry shades—all adventurous, staple cheek colors to suit a variety of seasons and skin tones.
I don’t normally use a ton of brushes or sponges to apply my daily makeup. With only about ten minutes to spare in applying my makeup, I don’t put too much time or effort into delicately applying my makeup with brushes. I rely heavily on my imperfect fingers. That said, it’s nice to have one single brush that can do the work of a whole collection of brushes.
While Merit Beauty’s products do blend incredibly well into your skin, this blending brush finishes off the job and blurs the line between your makeup and your skin. I like to apply my Minimalist – Perfecting Concealer Stick and Flush Balm before gently working the products fully into my skin with the Brush No. 1.
It only takes a few brushes across your face with these soft, forgiving bristles and you’ll immediately notice a more complete, well-blended look. Even though I usually skimp on brushes, this one is definitely worth the investment to round out your whole beauty routine.
Day Glow Highlighting Balm
As a former diehard Glossier fan, I couldn’t help but compare Merit Beauty’s Day Glow Highlighting Balm to Glossier’s Haloscope highlighter. Both products instill a gorgeous glow into your skin, but Merit Beauty’s Day Glow creates, by far, a much more natural look than the Haloscope highlighter. In fact, I tossed out my Haloscope highlighter after trying the Day Glow balm.
Absent here are the unnatural glittery, shimmery effects you’ll get with most highlighters; instead, you’re creating a dewy, healthy highlight complete with a translucent glow that blends beautifully into your full makeup. I apply just a little bit of this highlighter on my cheekbones and even over my eyelids to create a glow that doesn’t look in the least bit artificial.
The Day Glow Highlighting Balm comes in three shades: champagne, rose gold, and soft gold
Signature Lip Lightweight Lipstick
There was a time in my life when I was super into lip stains and heavy-matte red lipsticks. And while I can certainly appreciate a beautiful red lip, the amount of effort that goes into maintaining a Marilyn Monroe-esque lip is quite intense. There’s something to be said for a lipstick that doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a heavy coat of paint.
That’s why I particularly like Merit Beauty’s Signature Lip lipstick. This fuss-free, moisturizing lipstick glides on super easy and doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything at all. So you won’t go through the whole day feeling like your lips are dry, cracked, or super matte. I only needed to reapply this maybe twice throughout the whole day, and even then, I could have done without reapplying since the lipstick already looks so natural.
The Signature Lip comes in eight gorgeous shades, including a classic pink and a deep brown.
Whether you’re looking to clean house and throw out your entire makeup collection, or incorporate a few products from a respected minimalist beauty brand, look no further than Merit Beauty.
The newly founded clean makeup brand is on to something we could all use more of: parsing down and utilizing the must-have essentials. While it’s certainly tempting to keep collecting more and more one-and-done products, there’s something to be said for creating a perfect beauty look with only eight items.
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