Fashion

We Tried the New Minimalist Makeup Line That Finally Checks Every Single Box

Take it from a beauty editor who currently has roughly 1000 beauty products lining her apartment—it’s extremely exciting and, honestly, quite rare when a new makeup brand delivers only everything you could ever want from a smartly put-together routine. It’s 2021, and we’re over deceptive marketing, ineffective formulas, and anything that can poison our bodies or the earth. Suffice to say, any new makeup brand that comes our way this year has to be exceptional—smart, durable, beautiful, clean, and strategically minimalist. 

Enter Merit, the very first makeup brand that finally checks every single box formulaically while looking chic and esthetically refined in the process. To put it bluntly, Merit is the disruption the beauty space has been waiting for, and we have a hunch you’re going to love it just as much as we do. 

As the CEO of Who What Wear, Versed, and now Merit, Katherine Power’s intention while conceptualizing the brand was deliberate and focused—Merit represents a scaled-back, minimalist approach to beauty, prioritizing “well-edited essentials that have earned a place on your vanity.” (You can read her informative letter about the brand and her mission here.) 

Beauty and self-care have reached a fever pitch, a saturated market with products coming out every few days, palettes with 50 colors when we only use two, and more and more additions to the list of what it takes to ‘look good,'” the brand outlines in a press release. “This year, we’ve reset. We learned we don’t need much. We’re accustomed to bare nails, natural hair, and days without makeup. We’re indulging in comfort and minimalism and brands that bring us more with less. Merit was created to reimagine luxury beauty by making it well edited, holistic, and accessible. We’re focused on responsible luxury, creating products that are safe for the body, skin, and planet.” 

Here’s what you can expect from the lineup: a multitasking complexion stick that doubles as a foundation and/or concealer; a fluffy soft brush that makes seamless blending a piece of cake; a pigment-rich tinted lip oil that feels divinely smooth and buttery, a balmy blush sure to perk up your complexion via hydrating, easy-to-wear color; a volumizing brow pomade that delivers the perfect ratio of fluffiness, volume, and definition; a clean, beautifully sleek mascara that yields uncompromising lift, length, and flutter; and, last but not least, a fleshy highlighter that’s believably dewy, not disco-tech sparkly.  What’s more, every formula is designed to be good for your body, skin, and the earth. Everything bearing Merit’s gilded name is EU compliant, dermatologist tested, facialist approved, vegan, cruelty-free, and void of parabens, sulfates, artificial fragrances, and more. Additionally, you can expect FSC-certified boxes and 100% recyclable shipment packaging. 

We can’t wait for you to try our new sister makeup line for yourself, and to celebrate today’s launch, we’ve asked 13 Who What Wear editors to snap a pic of their customized five-minute Merit face. Below, you can see what the products look like in a variety of shades, and you can also shop each editor’s must-have hero product. (You better believe it was hard to choose just one!) Keep scrolling—we’re sharing all of our editor-approved Merit picks just ahead. 

Kat’s wearing: The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Linen, Flush Balm Cheek Color in Beverly Hills, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Bounce, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Sangria, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Black/Brown. Hero product: I was not expecting Brush No. 1 to be my favorite pick because I’ve never used a brush regularly, but this one has me converted. It gives me a much more seamless look than just blending with my fingers, so my skin looks like the best version of itself, and you can’t see where I applied makeup. It also helps that it’s so fluffy and soft.

Erin’s wearing: The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Ecru, Flush Balm Cheek Color in Cheeky, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Cava, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Pink Beet, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Blonde. Hero product: I’m obsessed with the Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick. It buffs, blends, and melts so seamlessly into the skin, and unlike so many foundations or concealers, it looks better and better the longer you wear it. It still looks freshly applied by the end of the day—I usually wear my makeup for a full 10 hours, and by hour 10, there was still no creasing. A little bit goes a long way, and I love using a stick that’s a little darker (Ochre) than the color I use for my whole face as a contour and a stick one or two shades lighter (Linen) as more of a concealer. The formula itself is super buildable, but it retains its velvety, demi-matte finish (without getting greasy or cakey) no matter how many layers you add. This stuff is selfie heaven and is just the thing for anyone looking to enhance their complexion with glowy, natural-looking coverage in under three minutes.

Courtney’s wearing: The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Amber and Sepia, Flush Balm Cheek Color in Raspberry Beret, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Bounce, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Sangria, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Black/Brown. Hero product: There’s nothing quite like a good highlight, but achieving the perfect “lit from within” glow is harder than it would seem. If, like me, you prefer a healthy and hydrated look, you want a product that imparts a subtle gloss and that doesn’t leave you with a stark, shimmery streak across your cheeks. Merit’s Day Glow Balmy Highlighter hits the mark. It’s lightweight and buildable, yet it leaves just enough glistening gold pigment to catch the light.

Sarah’s wearing: The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Linen, Flush Balm Cheek Color in Cheeky, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Cava, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Sangria, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Black/Brown. Hero product: I’m a fan of foundation sticks because they’re so easy to apply, so I was really excited when I saw that Merit had the Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in its lineup. It goes on so smoothly and blends easily. I don’t love thick, heavy foundation, and this was just the right amount of coverage for me. It felt lightweight, but it also covered up blemishes and redness. It left a nice, natural look that wasn’t caked on at all. And I really didn’t need a ton of product—just a few swipes on my forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin.

Jasmine’s wearing: Flush Balm Cheek Color in Terracotta, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Cava, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Sangria, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Brown. Hero product: I’ve always been about a minimal makeup routine—I prefer complementing some of my favorite features (including my brows). I’ve tried everything from hyped brow products to gels and waxes, and Merit’s Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade is a new favorite. I’ve found most tinted brow shades to be overbearing and too dark when it comes to the application. However, this is not the case with Merit. The brown hue is light enough so that you don’t look like you took a whole crayon to your face but dark enough to really make what you have pop. For anyone looking for the simplest way to accentuate your brows that still looks au naturel, you don’t have to look any further. 

Kristen’s wearing: The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Ochre, Flush Balm Cheek Color in Cheeky, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Cava, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Au Natural, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Brown. Hero product: Even if I have a pretty bare face, I always focus on my brows, so a great brow gel is a must. I’ve tried many formulas over the years, but Merit’s Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade is one that stands out among the rest. The volumizing effect truly gives my eyebrows an instant fullness that lasts for hours of wear.

Allyson’s wearing: The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Silk, Flush Balm Cheek Color in Cheeky, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Cava, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Au Natural, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Brown. Hero product: I’ve tried a lot of cream blushes, and I usually find something wrong with them, with the number one thing being that they don’t last until the end of the day. Not so with Merit’s Flush Balm Cheek Color. First of all, it’s so easy to blend and natural looking, with the perfect amount of pigment. And it miraculously stays on from morning until night—I kid you not. I went with Cheeky, which makes you look like you just took a jog in the winter.

Indya’s wearing: The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Chestnut and Tiger Eye, Flush Balm Cheek Color in Raspberry Beret, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Cava, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Marrakech, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Brown. Hero product: A year ago, my everyday makeup routine consisted of roughly 15 steps and 20+ products. From primer to finishing powder, I never missed a step. But now, I’m lucky if I manage to throw on some concealer. My current priority is to streamline my entire makeup collection, which means focusing on products that fulfill multiple functions instead of just one. Merit’s Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil is like a super trio in one: The pigment packs a punch like a lipstick, it nourishes like a lip balm, and it shines like a gloss. The first time I swiped it over my lips, I couldn’t get over the buttery-smooth consistency. (I had to resist the urge to constantly rub my lips together the whole day.) Sticky lip glosses are also a huge pet peeve of mine, so I’m glad to have found an alternative that still lends that shiny finish without the tacky feeling. 

Anna’s wearing: The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Dune, Flush Balm Cheek Color in Cheeky, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Cava, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Sangria, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Black/Brown. Hero product: Merit’s Flush Balm Cheek Color has quickly become one of my favorite makeup products. Right off the bat, I found it super easy to use—the rich cream formula is very blendable and gives off a naturally dewy, hydrated look. While it is technically a balm, I like playing around with other ways to apply it and have been dabbing some onto my eyelids and even using it as a lip color to create one cohesive makeup look.

Erin’s wearing: The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Silk, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Cava, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Pink Beet, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara. Hero product: I’m very minimalist when it comes to makeup, but the one thing I like experimenting with is lip color. I have pale skin and red hair, and the Pink Beet shade of Merit’s Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil is the perfect effortless color for me. It looks like a super-natural yet enhanced version of myself. I would absolutely wear it every single day. I also want to shout out the Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Silk because I have several zits and post-acne marks around my chin that it covered up very well.

Judith’s wearing: The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Sand, Flush Balm Cheek Color in Terracotta, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Cava, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Au Natural, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Black/Brown. Hero product: I live for a dewy glow, and Merit’s Day Glow Balmy Highlighter is one of my new favorite highlighters to achieve one. The soft, textured stick glides onto the skin like butter and is easy to wear over foundation or on bare skin. The best part is it looks so natural, giving off just the right amount of sheen and iridescence to my cheek- and browbones.

Lauren’s wearing: The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick in Linen, Flush Balm Cheek Color in Beverly Hills, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Cava, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Brown. Hero product: I am very picky when it comes to my brows. They have a nice natural shape, so all I typically need is a quick pencil to fill in gaps and a good brow gel. I have tried so many over the years, and Merit’s Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade is the only one that actually holds my brows in place and adds just the right amount of color without making me feel like I overdid it.

Yusra’s wearing: Flush Balm Cheek Color in Cheeky, Day Glow Balmy Highlighter in Cava, Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Marrakech, Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara, Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade in Black/Brown. Hero product: I’ve never been one for highlight, but Merit’s Day Glow Balmy Highlighter gives such a subtle glow that reflects perfectly in the sunlight. I even added it to my eyes, and it brightened them up significantly. It gives the perfect amount of dew, which I love, without being overkill.

Click here to learn more about Merit and to shop the entire line. 

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