Saw It On Social: Merit Beauty

Jul 24, 2023

We’re all fed so much influenced and sponsored content that it can be tough to tell whether the “must-have” product really is must have.  Add to that the way the social media algorithms choose which advertisements to show us, and it’s tough to know what you really need and want and what is just being fed to you based on your preferences.

Enter Saw It On Social.  I don’t take freebies.  I don’t accept cash for posts.  I buy the products that keep popping up in my feed (and yours) to give them an honest look.  Few are awesome.  Some are good.  Many are meh.  And occasionally, one is truly terrible (seriously, I’m still smarting from Prose shampoo).

When I asked for suggestions for products to review, you ladies had thoughts.  And one of the requests that kept popping up in the comments and DMs was Merit Beauty.

Clean. Edited. Minimalist. Holistic. Essential.

The About Section of the Merit Beauty website uses all of the buzzwords.  The brand, founded by WhoWhatWear and Versed CEO Katharine Power, focuses on makeup that helps you look “like yourself but better.” The concept is that a handful of products — all derived from clean ingredients, vegan, cruelty free, utilizing recycled packaging and tailored to work together — can give you a natural look in just five-minutes.  But does it deliver?

I went to the Sephora store to purchase these products because I did not know which shades would suit me best.  The base product is the Minimalist Perfecting Complexion and Concealer Stick.  (Holy mother is that a mouthful to say (and type)).  The complexion stick bills itself as a blendable foundation that is layered to double duty as a concealer.

This was only my second experience with stick foundation, so I was a little skeptical that this thick-ish formula could feel light on my skin.  And the first time that I used the product, it didn’t.  I over-applied the product trying to cover a breakout and nearly drown myself in it.  I felt like I was wearing Kabuki makeup all day.  But by the third attempt, I mastered how much to apply and the heaviness subsided.

As for the color of the foundation, the stick comes in 20 shades.  It took some time to find the right one in the store.  The shade suggested for me by Sephora’s system (ochre) was too yellow.  So I grabbed Bisque a medium foundation with neutral undertones and it matched near perfectly.  This is the first time in years that I haven’t had to apply foundation to my neck to get the blend right.

When it came to concealing, the product hid acne well, but it did nothing for my under eye circles unless I added a corrector.  Nothing.  So when the tagline says you, but better, that’s true.  The coverage is natural-looking and easy-wearing, but if you need to hide under eye darkness, you might need to learn to live with a little less.  That being said, I never felt like my makeup was applied badly, even when it looked a bit softer than I usually wear it.

As for the formula, the foundation just glides on.  The formula is so smooth coming off the stick.  Then, you blend it in with the Merit blending brush.  I was super skeptical that one brush could apply and blend all of the products.  One brush to rule them all?  Seriously?  But it does.  I will be cleaning it more regularly, however.

To the foundation stick, you add the Flush Balm Blush, Sheer Sculpting Balm, and Highlighting Stick.  All of the products apply beautifully and you can build coverage as you see fit.

For the blush, I like a stronger cheek, so I really have to load on the sheer formula to get the look I want.  If you like a softer look, this product will be perfect for you.  I bought the Apres, which in the container looks like blackberry juice, but on the skin is a soft berry hue.  So if you see the product in the tube and think, whoa, know that it blends out beautifully.

The bronzer is one of the best products I have ever used.  It gives you a sculpted, contoured look without being heavy.  So if you’ve struggled to find a bronzer that isn’t heavy and cakey (or worse, orange), this is the product for you.

For my money, the highlighter was the only disappointing product.  It is really soft and sheer, which is nice, but I didn’t feel like I needed it.  But what I will say is that when you mix the entire suite of products — foundation, blush, bronzer and highlighter — the colors blend seamlessly.  This symbiosis gave my skin a natural, glow-y quality that felt really fresh and current, and I hadn’t expected that.

Last, but not least, can we talk about the one thing that didn’t go right?  Staying power.  I wore this makeup inside, outside, on Zoom and to the pool.  I loved it in the morning, but by lunch (especially if I went outside), the cheek color had evaporated.  By 3:00PM, my acne was back out.  And I was not happy about that…not at all.

The solution? All Nighter setting spray.  This was essential.  I am not trying to apply makeup in the morning and watch it performing a disappearing act all day, nor do I want to constantly reapply.

Bottom Line. I f**king loved these products.  Yes, my makeup was done in less than 10-minutes.  Yes, this was the easiest makeup experience that I have ever had.  Yes, I could probably survive on the Merit Beauty makeup, corrector, one eyeshadow, a liner and a mascara.  And for a girl with a makeup bag full to bursting, that is saying a lot.

I intend to keep using the products.  I have boxed up my other foundation, concealers, and blushes.  I’ve held onto them, I’m not ready to fully convert yet, but if I don’t use them again, I won’t be surprised.

For the full Merit experience, visit a Sephora near you.  If you want to try the system and get one of their influencer coveted makeup bags, go to the Merit website.  I will likely try their hydrating serum next, but I’m very happy with my mascara and brow pencil, so I see no reason to change.  Merit as a winner, it’s as simple as that.

{this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}

Features, Saw It On Social

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  1. Diane says:

    Thank you! I was on the verge of purchasing a while ago after another influencer put out a curated package, and then talked myself out of it as influencer hype. Good to know it is a winner.

  2. Nancy says:

    I 100% trust your reviews so will def. look at it soon.

    Have you or would you if you have not, test our Jones Road makeup? Since its not sold in stores, hard to know which colors to get. They have a quiz on their site and you can also send in pic for recomm. but curious your thoughts if you try it. Please and thank you.

  3. Michelle says:

    I really like the complexion stick (I have olive-toned skin, and it works great for my tone), and I also love the Merit mascara. It’s a tubing formula with no transfer, and it doesn’t bother my eyes even when I have contacts in.

  4. Michelle Adkins says:

    I really like the complexion stick. First time I used it was on a beach trip last December and it was perfect coverage (I just use my fingers to blend) It has also lasted a long time for me – still going on the same stick and I use it daily. It has replaced the cleau de peau concealer stick which I just keep in my purse now for random touchups as the merit stick is bigger. I have a blush too but I don’t think it’s the right color for me but will definitely check out Sephora for other colors. I do use the all nighter setting spray with it.

  5. Maggie says:

    The Merit mascara is the real champion in their lineup. I hated mascara with a white hot passion, but now I wear it everyday. It made it through a therapy cry session, an all day pool party, and just everyday life. It’s THE best.

  6. Kelly says:

    The algorithms have been pushing the Ilia my way, and that’s what I’ve been trying out. Also using the all nigher spray because I was looking bare-faced by afternoon.

  7. Kristen B says:

    Thank you for this review! I’ve seen Merit everywhere and have been so curious. I greatly appreciate you buying the products and providing a completely unbiased review.

  8. Liz says:

    Thank you so much as always for these reviews! I actually trust your opinion is based on sincere belief and not just trying to push the latest trend!

  9. Ellen says:

    This is so timely it makes me wonder if you’ve been looking at my search history. Thanks as always for the honest reviews! I’ve been eyeing it for a while and this is the nudge I needed.

  10. EliZabeth says:

    I love your reviews, and this one especially! I’ve been on the fence to try their products but your review described exactly what I want. Honestly, all the corny “clean” marketing is a massive turnoff to me.

  11. Katel says:

    I bought Merit and Cali-Ray mascara on separate influencer recommendations back on National Mascara Day. Merit doesn’t give length and volume like Cali-Ray but damn it doesn’t budge.

  12. Heather Edwards says:

    I think you will love the minimalist stick over the serum. That’s how I can use it all winter when my skin is dry. I too need the Bobbi Brown corrector for undereyes and sometimes on a really red spot. I agree completely about the disappearing blush but that All Nighter spray saves it. Don’t bother with the mascara. I tried it and the highlighter, but was disappointed in both. I do love the lip oil colors, but it doesn’t last. Their lipstick however is amazing. You won’t regret trying it.

  13. Caroline says:

    Thanks for the review! For the next one, would love hear your thoughts on Smile Actives. I feel like I can’t listen to a podcast without it being advertised.

  14. Nichole says:

    Thank you for this review! I’m def. going to try this brand now – I need a quick morning routine, for sure! On the Sephora site, a lot of 1-2 star reviews say that the product breaks off and/or falls out of the tube. Did this happen to you?

    • Kayla says:

      I was worried about those reviews too, but then I read that Merit repackaged their foundation about a year ago to try and fix those issues. They also added more product in the tube at that time.

      I’m on my second tube and haven’t had any issues with it breaking or falling out.

  15. Maria says:

    I also liked their red lipstick in Aperitif. It was marketed as a red that looks good on everyone and to my surprise it worked for me. Red is tricky for me and I can never find the right shade. The texture was also really pleasant. And I do use that makeup bag for travel and love it.

  16. Pam says:

    I love my merit foundation stick!! I asked to exchange a color and they sent me the replacement and let me keep the other one. It is quick and easy to blend! I have the cheek balm but don’t use it often. Someone asked about the jones road miracle balm. It was a waste of money unless you like sheer, tacky feeling makeup.

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