Makeup Made Easier with Merit

Jan 3, 2024

At 41, I struggle with looking in the mirror and not seeing “myself,” the self I was at 25, and 30, and 35, and even 39.  But when the aging arrives (with an assist from the sleepless nights of parenthood), it can hit hard.  So, after three years of only wearing makeup sporadically, I started wearing it again on most days.  And having makeup on allowed me to feel a little more like myself, a little more put together.  Makeup is my armor in some ways.

Merit Beauty makes it possible for me to put on a full-face of makeup in less than 10-minutes, without rushing. So, given our theme of beginning again, I wanted to reshare a post that I wrote last year for the Saw It on Social feature about Merit.  I’ve made some short edits, but my feelings about the product and how I use it remain largely unchanged.

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.  The blending brush also makes quick work of smoothing out the product, so you need less than you think.

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.

Edit: To cover acne, I went back to my Hourglass concealing brush.  This thing is a miracle if you need a good brush for under-eye or acne concealer.  It’s shaped like a finger tip, so it blends effortlessly with minimal product.

My one complaint about the product is that when the tube is full, the stick portion of the foundation sometimes falls out of the tube.  This is deeply, deeply annoying.  It’s happened to me 2/3 times.  But I keep buying the product, and leaving comments on their website asking them to fix the damn stick.

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 Mood, 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. Edit: I have stopped using the highlighter.  No matter where I placed it, it accentuated the malar mounds that genetics gave me.  And I simply don’t need 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?  A little bit of powder in the morning, and 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.  Edit: I also added the Westman Atelier Skin Activator serum.  It’s easily the most expensive product I own, but it does deliver on its promised dewiness and hold.

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.  Edit: I do survive on the Merit products and four additional eye makeup products.  I actually retired my large makeup bag and bought a smaller one.  Clearly, I am committed to this product.

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

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  1. Faith A. says:

    Glad to see the Merit love! I adore the stick too and have been eyeing the other products but making myself use what I have first. They are on my “to buy” list when I do though for sure. Have you tried the mascara? I was a little iffy on it but it might have been me.

  2. Lara says:

    What do you use to set your makeup?

  3. Lara says:

    Oops apparently I didn’t read it all the way through, you listed what you use to set your makeup

    Does the skin activator alone with the makeup and powder help with staying power or do you have to add the all nighter spray?

  4. CitrineDC says:

    Thanks for posting your original review and the follow-up. I am seriously considering getting this suite but want to finish up the makeup I already have first (current routine is Wander powder foundation – love it! and I usually hate PFs – Westman Atelier cream blush stick – like it, decent staying power – and finish with Laura Mercier loose powder, plus whatever random mascara and gloss is handy).
    I am also working from home, but feel better about myself wearing a touch of makeup most days.

  5. Anna says:

    I really like how well this matched my skin tone and the level of coverage, but it really emphasizes my pores and a dry patch I have on my forehead (which isn’t even super dry or noticeable at all without the foundation). Primer helps and I try to make sure to be really moisturized, but it still isn’t great.

  6. Ana says:

    This sounds interesting. Have you tried any of the Jones Road products? Turning 40 has made me want to try them for winter

    • Belle says:

      I hated the foundation, it looked cakey and fake on me. But your mileage may vary, a friend with drier skin than mine loves it.

  7. Erika says:

    Thanks for the updated review. I have also been trying to decide whether to take the plunge. Can you clarify, with your edits, what your order of application is for your skin products vs. make up vs. additional products? I’m a little confused when you are supposed to apply the Westman Atelier Skin Activator serum if using it as a primer. Thank you!

    • Belle says:

      I apply moisturizer post shower and Vitamin C.

      A half hour later when I’m ready for makeup, I apply the Westman serum and let it soak in for a minute. Then, I apply the stick, concealer, bronzer, powder. Then, eye makeup (if I apply cheek color before eye color, I always put too much). Then, blush.

      • JCH says:

        I too had this question about order of skincare products with the WA serum as a primer – where does sunscreen fall in the sequence?

  8. Diana says:

    I had read good things about Cover Girl skin milk in terms of coverage, wear and shades. I tried it this past week and was really impressed. I am not normally a Cover Girl fan but it lasted all day. I have a lot of redness and have had some break outs lately (hormonal). I would say its worth a try if you are looking for something lighter.

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