It's the minimalism for me.

By Erin Lukas
Jan 07, 2021 @ 6:48 pm
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Merit Beauty Makeup Review
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When I was in kindergarten, I dreaded finger paint day.

I refused to get my hands dirty and instead watched from the sidelines as my classmates dunked their hands in Jello chocolate pudding, smeared it all over sheets of colored paper, and then licked the leftover goo from their fingertips. I still have a hang-up about my hands needing to look and feel clean (which has been helpful during COVID). But ironically, I prefer to apply most of my makeup with my fingers.

The ease of applying makeup without an entire collection of tools is the philosophy behind Merit, a makeup brand created by Katherine Power, founder of Who What Wear and Versed Skincare, that's bringing luxury back to minimalism.

Merit's collection is made up of seven products that are impossible to mess up. Each product is designed to be applied straight from the tube and blended in with your fingertips or the brand's fluffy brush, if necessary. The formulas are made with ingredients that meet the European Union's standards of clean beauty, vegan, cruelty-free, and offer skincare benefits in addition to buildable coverage and color payoff. Each product comes in muted robin's egg blue post-consumer paper boxes and first-time customers get a chic caramel corduroy makeup pouch that I predict will be all over Instagram once the brand launches.

Power, who often finds herself applying her makeup in her car while stuck in traffic wanted Merit's products to be as effortless to apply as they look on the skin. And while the collection is ideal for a no-makeup makeup look, each product can be layered to achieve a bolder finish.

Accessibility is also important to Power. While Merit is crafted with quality ingredients and comes in luxurious packaging, the products are relatively affordable, with prices ranging from $24 for a brow gel to $38 for a stick foundation.

The collection arrives on Jan. 12 at meritbeauty.com.

Ahead of the launch, I tested the products firsthand. Below, my breakdown of the products, plus the five-minute full-face makeup look I created with them.

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The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick

Merit Makeup Products Review
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While it looks like the average stick foundation, The Minimalist is a foundation-concealer hybrid that covers blemishes, redness, and dark circles without getting cakey or chalky. The formula includes a blend of vegan emollients that prevent water loss from the skin to keep it moisturized. It has a second-skin finish that's not too matte and comes in 20 shades.

I swipe the stick on areas of my face where I want a bit of coverage and simply tap it in with my fingers, but if you want more full-coverage, you can build an extra layer on top and use the brand's brush to buff it out all over.

To shop: $38; meritbeauty.com.

Day Glow Balmy Highlighter

Merit Makeup Products Review
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I don't get skin inspiration from celebrities like J.Lo or Jennifer Aniston. I'd rather glow like a dolphin or glazed doughnut, an animal and desert that come with their own built-in highlighter.

Merit's highlighter gives my skin a natural dewy look that isn't sparkly or streaky. The balmy gel melts into skin and plumps it, thanks to squalane and olive oil. It comes in two shades: Cava, an opalescent highlight, and Bounce, a rose gold highlight.

To shop: $30; meritbeauty.com.

Flush Balm Cheek Color

Merit Makeup Products Review
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Anyone who likes their blush like their highlighter: dewy, not sparkly and blended, not streaky, will be into Merit's Flush Balm. The waxy balm glides seamlessly onto skin, leaving a sheer wash of color, while the emollients in the formula keep the blush smooth and velvety all day long. There are five gorgeous shades, ranging from warm terracotta to rich raspberry.

To shop: $28; meritbeauty.com

Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara

Merit Makeup Products Review
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Is there anything this mascara doesn't do? The short answer is no. The lengthening formula includes tubing film-formers to define, lengthen, and fluff each lash without any clumps. What really makes this mascara for me is the fluffy brush. It's slightly tapered so you can get to those baby lashes at the inner corners of your eyes and it deposits just the right amount of product on lashes so they look full yet defined.

To shop: $26; meritbeauty.com.

Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade

Merit Makeup Products Review
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Inspired by the full brows of the '80s, this gel puffs up and tints brows with its waxy formula infused with vitamin B5 to keep hairs shiny and avoid any crunchiness. The three shades work across a number of brow colors.

To shop: $24; meritbeauty.com.

Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil

Merit Makeup Products Review
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Love the shine of a pigmented lip gloss but hate the stickiness? Same! That's what makes a tinted lip oil so game-changing. Merit's satin-finish formula sets into lips like a stain, but the color doesn't settle into the cracks of your lips or completely dry them out, courtesy of moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, rosehip, grapeseed, and avocado oils. Shade-wise, I've only tried Sangria, a wine-red hue. A single coat was the perfect my-lips-but-better shade, but you can build it for a more vibrant lip.

To shop: $24; meritbeauty.com.

Brush No.1

Merit Makeup Products Review
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The "right" way to apply makeup comes down to your personal preference. If you like to set your products with a brush, Merit has created a blending tool that works for The Minimalist, but it would also work well with with virtually any complexion product.

To buy: $30; meritbeauty.com.

The Verdict

Merit Makeup Products Review
Credit: Erin Lukas

Prior to COVID-19, I used close to 10 products every day to just to make my face look like I wasn't wearing any makeup. Since we started working from home, 90% of my makeup has been collecting dust, with my daily routine consisting of just tinted moisturizer with SPF, lip balm, and maybe some mascara. I upgrade my almost non-existent makeup routine on days when I have video meetings where I have to turn my camera on. I can totally see Merit's products becoming a regular part of pre-Zoom scramble five-minute makeup look.