In our series Trial Run, TZR editors and writers put the buzziest new beauty products to the test and share their honest reviews. This week, we’re trying the new Merit Signature Lip lipsticks.
Going behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week is always a masterclass in makeup and hair techniques, but occasionally you’ll spot a new product making its debut on the runway for the very first time — the beauty editor equivalent of breaking news. Such was the case at Proenza Schouler F/W ’22, where lead makeup artist Diane Kendal designed the look for the collection, featuring dewy skin, boyish bushy brows, and a soft nude lip. “We’re using new Merit lipsticks,” she told TZR backstage ahead of the show, and just a few days before the official release of the eight-piece line.
Since its launch in January 2021, Merit has quickly become a fashion girl favorite for minimalist makeup, and up until now, it has not released a lipstick option (although the lip oil is *very* good). The brand spent over five years formulating the new range, which features plant-derived squalane and sunflower seed oil for plenty of moisture, as well as vitamin C to add a boost of antioxidant protection and minimize the appearance of lip fine lines over time. A dash of soothing raspberry oil gives the lipstick bullet a subtle fruity smell without feeling too overpowering throughout the wear time. The cap is recyclable, and while it’s still nearly impossible to find a lipstick that is fully recyclable, Merit has made it with 30% post-consumer recycled plastic.
Of course, pretty much any lipstick will look sensational on Bella Hadid (who walked in the Proenza Schouler show), but not all formulas are created equal. So, like any beauty-obsessed editors, we put the collection to the test to see if the skin care-meets-makeup option could stand toe to toe with our usual go-to lippies. Here’s what we discovered about the new Merit Signature Lip lipstick.
“I’m a die-hard fan of the Merit Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil in Cara Cara, so I was thrilled to learn that the team at Merit used that orange-y red hue as inspiration for the Cabo lipstick. I was worried that my newly red hair might upset my loyalty to orange lipsticks, but I was pleasantly surprised by this shade — it was the perfect balance of warmth and intensity, picking up on my golden/neutral undertones even though I’m desperately pale in the winter. I appreciated how creamy the formula is since I have very little patience when I do my makeup, so the fact that I could apply this in less than ten seconds is a major plus. It’s not the most long-lasting option I’ve tried, but even through a cup of coffee or two I only needed minor touch ups. I’d wear this more in the summer when I want a dash of creamy color, and would blot the edges for more of a stained lip effect that can wear away without looking messy.” — Hannah Baxter, Deputy Beauty Editor, TZR
“I haven’t worn a vampy lipstick in ages, so I was excited to have an excuse to try Merit’s new Signature Lip in L’Avenue, a deep brownish-red. The formula is incredibly creamy — it feels more like a lip balm than a traditional lipstick. I had to apply a few coats in order to get the color payoff I wanted, and then the final color wasn’t super even and wore off quite quickly. However, I do love the creaminess of the formula and the satin finish — I’m looking forward to trying some of the lighter shades as an everyday lip color.” —Faith Xue, executive beauty director, BDG
“Those who know me know I’m typically a red lipstick kinda gal. I love a bright orange-y or or cherry red lip. However, the resurgence of ’90s and early 2000s style has me looking at throwback lip shades like brown in a new light. Merit’s rich, mocha-colored 1990 hue reminded me of my favorite TV shows of yore like Beverly Hills 90210 and Living Single where brown lipstick was worn ad nauseam — and it made me want to recreate the magic.
While the shade looks dark in the tube, the application is quite light, so it required several layers before I saw the rich brown I was going for. Also surprising was the rosy undertone, which I wasn’t expecting, but was a pleasant surprise as it made the lipstick look a bit more natural. While I loved the shade, I noticed that the pigment faded quite quickly, and likely wouldn’t last a night of dinner and/or drinks. That said, I love that it gave me the ’90s look of my dreams, so I’ll definitely be giving this tube another try soon!” — Angela Melero, executive editor, TZR
“I rarely wear lipstick (I’m more of a gloss girl) but when I do go for lipstick a nude or darker brown shade is my steez so I was particularly excited about this color, and it lived up to my expectations. In addition to the vibrance of the rich brown hue the texture is super creamy and doesn’t leave behind that dry chapped feeling some lipsticks are prone to.” — Annie Blay, associate beauty news editor
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