Is Merit Beauty Actually Clean & Non-Toxic? Let’s Review!

Is Merit Beauty Actually Clean & Non-Toxic? Let’s Review!

The world of clean beauty has exploded in the past couple of years! There are sooooo many new brands popping up left and right, and it’s hard to keep track. On top of that, greenwashing is rampant; how do we know what’s truly safe and non-toxic to use? Today we’re going to discuss Merit Beauty, which is a brand that my readers frequently ask me about, and decide whether or not it lives up to the clean claims!

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What this post covers:

About Merit Beauty

Merit was founded in 2021 by Katherine Power, who is also the CEO of Who What Wear and founder of Versed Skincare. The brand is based in Los Angeles, California. They position themselves as “a clean, luxury beauty brand inspired by minimalism.” For being a relatively new brand, they sure have taken the internet by storm and have gotten super popular! Merit is also:

  • Vegan
  • EU-compliant
  • Cruelty-free (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • Clean at Sephora (more on this “certification” below)

Merit Product & Ingredient Reviews

Let’s go through each Merit product! The majority of them I would not suggest using due to their ingredients, but there are a couple that are not too bad.

Merit Products to Skip 👎 (& Dupes to Use Instead!)

Here are the Merit products that I do NOT recommend due to their ingredients, as well as some brief info as to why they should be avoided. Plus, better swaps for each item that are much safer and cleaner!

Merit Products to Skip

Brow 1980 Volumizing Pomade: Contains phenoxyethanol, trideceth, chloroxylenol, and silicones.
*️⃣ Clean dupe to use instead: TOK Volumizing Brow Gel (discount code ORGANICALLYBECCA)

Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara: Contains phenoxyethanol, steareth, PVP, acrylates, silicones, and tromethamine.
*️⃣ Use instead: Erin’s Faces Lengthening Matcha Mascara (discount code ORGANICALLYBECCA)

Flush Balm Cheek Color: Contains BHT, silicones, lake dyes, hydrogenated polyisobutene, and polyethylene.
*️⃣ Use instead: Axiology Lip-to-Lid Balmie (discount code ORGANICALLYBECCA)

Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick: Contains BHT, silicones, and polyethylene.
*️⃣ Use instead: Well People Bio Stick Foundation

Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil: Contains pentaerythrityl tetra-di-t-butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate, lake dyes, hydrogenated polyisobutene, and ceresin.
*️⃣ Use instead: Saie Glossybounce Lip Oil

Sheer Bronze Balm: Contains BHT, lake dyes, and silicones.
*️⃣ Use instead: Axiology Shape Stick (discount code ORGANICALLYBECCA)

Signature Lipstick: Contains lake dyes, aroma, phenoxyethanol, and polyethylene.
*️⃣ Use instead: Madame Gabriela Lipstick

Solo Shadow Matte Eye Color: Contains lake dyes and silicones.
*️⃣ Use instead: Ilia Liquid Powder Matte Eye Tint

Clean Merit Dupes:

Related post: “13+ Clean & Non-Toxic Swaps for Popular Viral Beauty Products [2023]

Quick info about some of these ingredients:

Aroma: This falls under the “fragrance” category, meaning brands don’t have to disclose what’s in it, and can be a concoction of 3,000+ chemicals!

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene): A toluene-based antioxidant that is used to preserve and make products last longer. It’s carcinogenic and linked with liver and endocrine disruption.

Lake Dyes (Red 7, Yellow 5, etc.): Most synthetic coloring is derived from crude petroleum which might contain carcinogenic contaminants and heavy metals. Potentially linked to allergies. I personally use these in moderation in lip and cheek products (it can be difficult to achieve certain pigments naturally), especially if the rest of the ingredients are clean, but prefer to avoid them if possible.

Phenoxyethanol: A preservative that is part of the glycol family that can contain carcinogens such as ethylene oxide and benzene. It’s also linked with skin issues such as dermatitis.

Polyethylene: A nanoplastic that may contain hidden contaminants like 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide.

PVP: A polymer that can be contaminated with acetaldehyde, a human carcinogen.

Silicones: These give products a smooth texture, but don’t break down in the environment and are possibly tied to endocrine disruption. These are also something that is okay to use on occasion and if there is a lower amount used in a formula (lower on the ingredient label and not many used). You will see them on a label as dimethicone or words ending in -siloxane or -silane.

Wanna learn more about reading ingredient labels and what to avoid? Download this Ingredient Index! It has a glossary of 55+ ingredients to watch out for in your cosmetics, cleaning, and personal care products. Plus, sources and studies for further reading.

Index: Ingredients to Avoid (& Printable Pocket Guide)

Safer Merit Products 👍

Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that these are completely pure or clean. But they are much better than the rest of Merit’s products and I would be okay using them myself!

Safer Merit Products

  • Brush No. 1 & Brush No. 2: Nothing wrong with these! They are vegan and cruelty-free makeup brushes. If you really want to get nitpicky, I’d suggest looking into what the bristles are made of.
  • Day Glow Highlighting Balm: This does contain a synthetic emollient, hydrogenated polyisobutene, which is the only thing I’d flag in it, but not a total dealbreaker.
  • Great Skin Instant Glow Serum: This does have butylene glycol and pentylene glycol which are alcohols that are fine to use in moderation. Other than that, looks good!

Conclusion: Is Merit Beauty Clean? 🤔

THE SHORT ANSWER: No, Merit Beauty is not totally clean.

THE LONG ANSWER: It depends. Merit is certainly not the *worst* brand on the market and is a step above most conventional beauty brands. They do have a select few products that are okay and clean-ish. But the majority of them do NOT pass my standards and are not what I would consider clean.

In general, they use a lot more synthetics in their formulas vs. pure and natural ingredients. Synthetics are not always a bad thing (there are “safer” synthetics). But when you look at the ingredient lists, they’re mostly comprised of synthetics and silicones. It’s hard to justify the price, in my opinion, when you’re paying for a bunch of cheap fillers and unnatural stuff.

Lastly, I’d like to point out that Clean at Sephora really doesn’t carry much weight and shouldn’t be fully trusted. Their guidelines are super loose and still allow plenty of not-so-safe ingredients. For a list of #OrganicallyBeccaApproved brands at Sephora, download this freebie!

Shop Hundreds of Clean & Natural Products!

If you’re looking for green and natural beauty brands, head to The Organically Becca Shop! It’s a curated selection of hundreds of products that I have personally vetted and recommend. It includes makeup, skincare, hair, body, personal hygiene, household items, and so much more.

I hope this information was helpful! As always, my intent is not to shame you or make you feel bad if you do use Merit. My goal is to provide the information for you so that you can make informed decisions and decide what’s best for you going forward. Thanks for reading 💚

Becca Signature





Is Merit Beauty Actually Clean & Non-Toxic? Let’s Review!

Written by: Becca

Becca is a blogger, wife, and dog mom living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Having seen firsthand the benefits of switching to a natural lifestyle herself, she's passionate about helping women make the switch to clean beauty products, organic skincare, and a holistic way of life (without the stress of being perfect about it!).

1 comment on “Is Merit Beauty Actually Clean & Non-Toxic? Let’s Review!”

  1. This is so great! I do love a lot of their products but have defaulted to BEAUTYCOUNTER and some other brands you’ve recommended. Thank you for the review. It’s really helpful.

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