Merit Beauty Aims To Deliver A Five-Minute Makeup Routine

Luxe color cosmetics meet clean beauty.

Katherine Power, Los Angeles-based entrepreneur, is skilled at making brands that people like. Since co-founding media titan Who What Wear in 2006 of which she is still CEO (and the namesake Target clothing collection that would later follow), she's found success in the skincare space with Versed, and clean wine brand Avaline, which she co-founded with actor Cameron Diaz in the summer of 2020. Today, Power zeros in on new ground with Merit, a new clean makeup brand aiming to deliver a natural and polished five-minute face. According to the founder, this venture is her most personal yet.

"I've been working on this one for over four years and it really came from a personal need that I had as I was out shopping for beauty," she shared with NYLON over Zoom, noting that she grew up gravitating towards (and using) luxury and prestige brands like Lancôme, Bobbi Brown, and Stila. "It wasn't until I got pregnant with my son that I started to really question the ingredients. I would go to use my normal lip products when I got pregnant and I would be instantly nauseous. These were products I'd been using for years."

After a quick touch base with her beauty editors at the time, Power began to dig deep into the clean category — learning to understand how products were formulated, how they were colored and fragranced, and what ingredients brands considered to be potentially harmful. At the time, however, Power shared with NYLON that the formulations in the clean space were, simply put, bad.

Courtesy of Merit

"I think the bigger problem, and even now as we've gotten to a good place with clean formulas, is that I just don't connect emotionally to any of those brands the way that I connected with the legacy brands of the past," she said. "I don't feel the same when I buy a clean lipstick today, the same way I felt when I would buy a YSL lip tint and take that home from Sephora or from a department store. So, I felt like there was an opportunity to create a real luxury experience for sophisticated women who were like me. They were busy, they wanted a natural look." And with that in mind, she and her team developed Merit.

For its debut, Merit unveiled seven products all considered by the brand to be essentials, crafted with formulas and applicators that aim to help create a polished, luxe-feeling makeup look in just five minutes. Ranging in price between $24 and $38, the products themselves include: The Minimalist, a perfecting complexion stick available in 20 shades; Day Glow, a balmy highlighter; Flush Balm, a rounded cheek color that allows for finger-free application; Clean Lash, a lengthening mascara; Shade Slick, a smoothing, glossy lip oil; and Brow 1980, a volumizing pomade that gives even Boy Brow a run for its money, thanks to its easy-to-grip applicator and measured product per swipe. The collection rounds out with Brush No 1, a blending brush.

Courtesy of Merit

As someone who doesn't like foundation, the Minimalist ($38) is an easy standout, and surely will be for those who don't want to apply a full face on a daily basis — especially just for sitting at home — but like to touch up and cover here and there. Available in 20 nuanced shades, the brand describes the product as somewhere in between foundation and concealer, allowing you to make small edits to your complexion where you need them. It wears lightweight on the skin, offering light-to-medium coverage, and thanks to the fatty acids in its formulation, conditions and retains moisture throughout the day.

The minimalist beauty collection is vegan, cruelty-free, and clean by Sephora standards, as well as being EU complainant, which means Merit removed over 1,300 potentially harmful ingredients from its formulas, along with dozens of others that don't meet the brand's internal standards.

While the products Merit offers already exist in the space, there is something to be said of the brand's thoughtful packaging — full of re-imagined application, rooted in practicality and ease — and subdued color decisions, both of which that truly make good on their promise of a polished, five-minute face.

See the full collection below, and explore the world of Merit at