Merit Perfecting Complexion Stick Review +. More.

By: Jen Shoop

+MERIT PERFECTING COMPLEXION STICK. Merit promises that its perfecting complexion stick will replace both the foundation and concealer in your makeup bag, and they were right. This product is exceptional. It is like Westman Atelier’s Foundation Stick with a little less coverage and more hydration (and it is about half the price). I love it for everyday — it is a cinch to apply, and it invites the kind of application I like in a foundation/concealer: not all-over but rather slicked on where you need it and then blended well into the face. (I apply on my undereyes, along the sides of my nose, and anywhere there is a blemish and then blend into skin using an Artis oval 6 brush.) I have fallen deeper and deeper in love with Merit products mainly because I like the glossy, slick consistency of all of their products — they all blend into skin more like a balm (perhaps has more oil content?), which makes them easy to layer and “fix” by virtue of blending/smudging. These are not super-pigmented products, which I think makes application more forgiving for those of us mortals who do not have TikTok beauty channels. All of the products also impart a kind of glow/dewiness (they are anti-matte) that I love, especially for winter. Two other things to note about this product: 1) Merit makes it easy to find the correct color for your complexion using their online shade finder, where you can indicate which shade you wear in another brand and it will recommend the closest hue in their library. They nailed it! (I took the “silk” shade.) 2) This product is perfect for on-the-go/work bag/travel, as you don’t need a brush (can blend with fingers) and you need only this product vs. a separate concealer and foundation.

+THOMAS GROVE FACE OIL. Another fabulous product. This oil is made from a blend of three sustainably-sourced ingredients that are packed with vitamins: Rosehip Seed, Neroli, and Bulgarian Rose. I have been using this instead of my beloved Clarins Double Serum (gasp!) and it is working splendidly, achieving similar results. Skin looks happy afterward: bright, hydrated, turned on, supple. I would say this product is very similar to Vintner’s Daughter’s Active Botanical Serum — they both have beautiful fragrances; powerful, clean ingredient lists; and a highly concentrated product — but Thomas Grove is about half as much. The consistencies are also different — Thomas Grove feels like a true oil that you must massage into skin, whereas V.D. is a bit lighter in feel. I am loving it for this dry, cold winter.

+TATCHA FOAMING ENZYME POWDER RICE POLISH. I was skeptical about this purely based on the perceived gimmick of pouring grains into your hand and mixing with water to produce the foamy scrub. (Is it necessary?) But I have to say. My skin was looking dull and tired after the holidays, and this is a really good exfoliating product for jump-starting your skin. The first time I used this, I thought, rather tepidly, “Nice! Looks fresh and bright.” But for at least 24 hours, my skin was radiating — I kept catching a glance of myself in the mirror and remarking (to no one) how bright my skin looked. The effect really lasts. I also find the “gimmicky” application somewhat addictive? Like, something about the experience of having the powder turn into a foaming, creamy exfoliator is satisfying? Maybe it presages transformation in a subconscious way? I don’t know, but I will be keeping this in the rotation during this long winter.

+SAIE SLIP TINT. I can’t say enough good things about this tinted moisturizer. It is under $40 (much more affordable than my two other favorite tinted moisturizers by Laura Mercier and Chantecaille), glides on beautifully, and affords a tiny bit of glow and coverage. I had been using SuperGoop’s Glowscreen for a long time but now prefer this for something everyday that provides just a little coverage/evenness/glow without being a full face of makeup.

+MERIT BRONZER BALM. Another great Merit product — this is sheer and buildable in a fetching way. As I mentioned previously, I personally like how layerable/semi-sheer/forgiving all of their products are. I will say I like a bit more of a heavy hand with bronzer on a daily basis and still find myself reaching for my Guerlain bronzing powder first and then using this as a “top coat” for a kind of glossy sun-kissed finish/polish. I saw someone in a beauty tutorial using this more as a contour tool and have been playing around with that application. I don’t know much about contouring but every time I’ve tried to “frame my face” with bronzer by applying a swipe at the hairline and along the chin, I end up looking dirty rather than defined. (Haha.) This balm actually enables me to achieve the intended contouring effect because it is forgiving and easy to blend in. I use their award-winning brush for this purpose and it is excellent. This balm would be a phenomenal travel/workday makeup bag product because you can kind of swipe and go even if you don’t have an ideal mirror/bathroom/vanity set-up. (I write this keenly, having packed this for a trip to NYC where we stay in a hotel that has sub-par bathroom lighting and I basically have to do my makeup in the dark or by crouching close to the a floor mirror.)

+MERIT BLENDING BRUSH. This award-winning brush is worth every penny. I have been in a committed relationship with my artis oval 6 (and still prefer it for concealer/foundation) but I am in LOVE with this for bronzer, blush, and highlighter. It sort of dapples/softens all the layers of color perfectly, and I love the squat shape (easy to hold/wield). This is a true beauty kit must-have.

+OLAPLEX BOND SMOOTHER. I’ve written fairly extensively (and enthusiastically) about this leave-in styling cream recommended by my hair stylist. It does such a fantastic job of priming, detangling, protecting, smoothing hair prior to heat styling. But after using it intensively for a month I have to say that my current leading ode to this product is that it actually reduces drying time. Really. For years, I have let my hair air-dry about 75% of the way (which typically takes about an hour — I have a ton of hair) before finishing with the Revlon One-Step. For the first time in my life, I am able to actually dry my hair quickly without waiting for an hour-long air-dry. I towel dry, apply this product, get dressed and apply makeup, do a really quick rough dry with a blow-dryer, and finish with the Revlon One-Step. This can all be done in about 20 minutes (including makeup application/getting dressed). I’m not kidding. I timed myself this morning while racing around like a wild woman trying to get the kids out the door for school and then catch my train. I stepped into the shower at 7:58 a.m. and was ordering my Uber at 8:18 a.m., going from pajamas and bed head to showered, made up, and dressed in 20 minutes flat. Can you believe?! I owe it all to Olaplex.

+OLAPLEX NO 4 CLARIFYING SHAMPOO. Intrigued by Olaplex given my incredible review of their “bond smoother,” I tried this shampoo my sister has been raving about. I love the squeaky clean feeling it affords — unlike any other shampoo I’ve tried. I feel like it really scrubs your hair clean. I will say that after I used this, a reader messaged me to say that this can really strip color-treated hair — her hair stylist recommended it should only be used once or twice a week. This has led me to alternate this shampoo with Oribe shampoo every other shower, out of an abundance of caution. While reading up on the brand for related intelligence, I saw that some people have had horrible allergic reactions to Olaplex products that have caused hair loss (!!!) This sort of wigged me out for a minute BUT I have been using (as have my sister and countless other Magpies) without any problem. Still, I had to mention this!

+DAVINES OI CONDITIONER. Next to the Merit complexion stick, this is my absolute favorite item I’ve purchased in the beauty category in the past six months. This is, simply, the best conditioner I’ve ever used. It smells like heaven. It is thick and hydrating. It coats hair beautifully and leaves it soft and silky — not weighed-down, greasy, heavy, etc. It is a dream. I literally cannot wait to put it on when I’m in the shower. 10 out of 10 recommend.

+WELEDA ULTRA RICH SKIN FOOD. I decided to give this pharmacy favorite with a cult following a try during these dry winter months. I like this product — it is very thick and hydrating — but it is almost too thick. I find it difficult to blend into the skin / apply. I know a few of you had recommended the light version of this lotion and will try that next. For the price, it’s a very effective product, and I just think having something a little more supple/easy to spread would make a world of difference.

P.S. In the weeds thoughts on beauty.

P.P.S. What beauty tips do you have up your sleeve?

P.P.P.S. This or that?

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12 thoughts on “Merit Perfecting Complexion Stick Review +. More.

  1. Adding to the Weleda comments (have to go to bat for products I love!). I am in the Midwest and need extra hydration and I LOVE this product. The way I apply it is I squeeze a dollop into my hand and then I really rub my hands together to warm up the product to thin out the consistency. Then I pat it all over my face and find that it goes on much better and can be rubbed in as normal.

    Hope this helps and thank you so much for so many wonderful recommendations!

  2. I apologize in advance for another Weleda-related comment!

    I, like you, found the original formula very thick, but learned that they make a Sheer Hydration line that may even be lighter than the Weleda light version (?) while still delivering the same moisturizing benefits. I use the sheer hydration daily creme in the height of spring allergy season, as my skin gets aggravated, itchy, tight, and dry the minute I step outdoors, and it keeps everything calm and smooth without getting greasy or sticky. Might be worth a shot?
    P.S. When I can’t get the Weleda sheer hydration, the Holy Hydration! Moisturizer from E.L.F Cosmetics is my go-to. It’s unassuming but -very- good, especially given the price!

    1. Yay! You will love those two products – incredible. So glad I have them in my makeup bag!

      Do you use the cicaplast on your body or are you talking just face? I’m looking for a body lotion!


      1. I use the cicaplast on my face. You could totally use it on your body, though, it’s just expensive. Apparently it’s all the rage in Europe and France and they use it for everything even diaper cream! It’s very versatile. It might be best for super dry spots on your body versus all over.

  3. I loved Weleda Skin Food when I was living in the midwest (personally find it applies better if you tap it into the skin rather than rub) but since moving to DC, have found that the Skin Food Light is a better formula in this humid city.

    1. Oo – thanks for this intel, including the “tap application.” Smart! And hello, fellow Washingtonian!


  4. I’ve seen so many great reviews for Merit products recently, and I’m in the market for a new bronzer so I might have to try theirs! I like a light bronzer so your description is actually intriguing for me.

    My current favorite new product is the Ilia Multi Stick in At Last. It’s one of the picks for Sephora’s birthday gift this year, and WOW I love it! It’s a great shade for me for both blush and lip color, and I love the way it blends/applies.

    1. Yes! If you like a really light, semi-sheer bronzer that is layerable, you will love the Merit. I think you will be obsessed with the consistency / ease of application. Yay!

      I’ve heard such good things about those Ilia sticks. Adding to cart.


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