Merit Beauty Is On A Mission To Give You Great Skin, Not Airbrushed Skin
There are enough beauty brands appearing to embrace the long overdue age of inclusivity that's currently occurring, but more often than not the end goal seems to be the same: skin that looks curiously ageless, free from the aesthetic signs of a life lived beyond teenhood. But beauty’s vibe shift means we’re now pretty familiar with the fine lines and lingering scars on our complexion, and covering them up cake batter style finally feels wholly outdated.
If there’s one brand that sums up how we’re feeling about beauty now, it’s Merit. The make-up line we’ve been enviously eyeing up from across the pond for a while has finally landed in the UK, exclusively through its own website. Chic, pared-back and pleasingly practical, this small edit of modern beauty essentials combines sheer finishes and buttery textures in products you can apply with truly minimal effort.
Merit founder Katherine Power is well placed to deliver exactly what us thirty-somethings are craving: her previous ventures include Who What Wear, Versed Skincare (whose Mood Lighting Glow Drops are a must-try, FYI), and Avaline wine, which she launched alongside Cameron Diaz.
So while other areas of the beauty industry contort to meet the demands of Gen Z, Merit isn’t sleeping on millennials and Gen X-ers. Yes, Bella, Hailey et al have selfied in Bronze Balm and Shade Slick, but the A-list endorsements Merit boasts about lie at the more mature end of the celebrity spectrum: on Instagram, Diaz sips a glass of red while applying the brand’s Flush Balm (shade: Raspberry Beret), while Mandy Moore and Nicole Richie are reportedly loyal fans. On the Merit mood boards, Old Celine nestles alongside a young Naomi Campbell.
So what’s the big deal? New beauty brands launch all the time, but there’s something genuinely refreshing about Merit’s approach: if you were excited by Glossier’s industry-shifting arrival nine years ago, this is likely one that will resonate with you now. Everything is easy: as in, apply-with-your-fingers easy, and the end result always looks good. What’s more, the products feel wholly luxurious, yet the price points are pleasingly petite compared to other luxe players, with nothing over £40.
Merit Beauty: The ELLE Review
First up, The Minimalist is the perfect introduction to the brand. It’s a simple yet stand out, all-in-one base that’ll replace all those caking foundations, skin tints and concealers you’re currently hoarding. The secret to its success is the creaminess: it hydrates skin as much as it covers, so you’re never left with that give-away powdery finish, or product that seeps into fine lines.
What’s more, the brand consulted aesthetician Biba De Sousa to approve the inci list, ensuring there’s nothing that will trigger acne (because spots don't stop once your teenage years do.) Try it wherever you need a little brightening coverage: the idea is that you don't scribble energetically over your entire face, but let your natural complexion stay front and centre.
Another clear stand-out is the Bronze Balm: a mega-dewy colour stick that really sits somewhere in-between a bronzer and highlighter. The shades are especially sheer, meaning you get juicy, plump cheeks rather than a tell-tale terracotta streak. Try using a deeper shade as a discreet contour, too.
Now for the fan favourite. Flush Balm is one you’ll either snap up immediately or skip over entirely: but even the most stoically blush-averse should pay attention here. These low-pigment balm colours seriously bring skin to life, melting in with whatever you’ve applied beneath (see above for the correct answers) to lend just a tiny hint of colour. Layer it up or leave it sheer: the cool tones are always flattering.
This might not be the most exciting product in the line-up – when there are sparkly glosses and dual-phase serums winking at you, a brow pomade will likely be overlooked. But don't sleep on Brow 1980: a surprisingly brilliant formula, it uses kaolin clay and mineral pigments to build serious body in sparse brows. Flick it through your arches in an upwards motion for light hold (this isn't a brow-lamination situation) and major bushiness.
Our advice? Start with these four – the rest of the line is lovely, but not essential – and forget all about that seven-shade smoky eye. The beauty of now is easier than that.
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