Welcome to Deep Reviews—your one-stop destination to discover the absolute best products and brands the beauty industry has to offer. The Who What Wear staffers you already know and trust will research, test, and review the market's most sought-after and buzzed-about products to see which formulas (of the hundreds up for consideration) are truly worth your hard-earned money and attention. You can expect honest, completely uncensored feedback and no-BS recommendations our hard-to-please testers endorse without reservations.
The majority of our Deep Reviews will feature our editors' honest, ultra-hot takes on entire product categories or multiple products from a particular beauty brand, but every so often, we'll sprinkle in a special single-product format called Honestly, I Love It. As the name suggests, these reviews will hone in on one standout beauty formula our editors quite literally can't shut up about. This time around, I'm highlighting the Merit Beauty Flush Balm ($28).
If there's one celebrity I'd sell my soul to, it'd be Hailey Bieber without question. I've always been drawn to her effortlessly cool beauty and fashion aesthetic. The girl can walk outside wearing anything—a paper bag! Clown makeup!—and I'd feel a sudden need to do the same. I'm not saying I'm proud of this behavior, but I just want you to understand the grip she has on me, especially in the beauty department. Bieber is the queen of minimalist skincare and easy makeup, and the best part of it all is that she doesn't gatekeep what she's using. (It's one of the many reasons I love her so damn much.) I can't say I was surprised to hear that she's as obsessed with the Merit Beauty Flush Balm ($28) as I am. I'm just shocked it took a couple of years for her to get on board.
Let me back up: I've been very much in love with Flush Balm since the day it launched in 2021. I haven't always loved blush (I blame my naturally rosy cheeks!), but this was the product that warmed me up to the idea. The creamy, flexible formula is what did me in. I can wear it on its own or with other makeup, using as much or as little as I want, and it looks natural every single time. It's impossible to mess up, and I know I can always rely on it.
I hate when a product feels like it's sitting on top of my skin. Nothing makes me feel less like myself than completely covering my complexion. I really appreciate that this formula is lightweight and feels like I'm wearing no makeup at all. My skin is still able to breathe and poke through (as do my freckles) even when I'm wearing a few layers of this stuff. I like to apply it straight to the apples of my cheeks and then use my fingers to blend it in. I also like dabbing a little bit onto the tip of my nose for an extra pop of color. Sometimes, when I'm feeling extra rebellious, I even apply a wash of color across my eyelids and lips to create a subtle monochromatic look.
What I love most about the formula is how flexible and creamy it is. It just glides right onto my skin! Microfine pigment powders add a touch of color without covering up your skin's natural texture while vitamin E nourishes and conditions your skin, leaving a long-lasting glow that's never, ever cakey.
Flush Balm comes in nine lovely shades, and there isn't one I don't like. Fox is a glorious warm taupe; Persimmon is this super-soft orange-red; Terracotta is a warm caramel-cream; Beverly Hills reminds me of a soft, dreamy peach; Stockholm is a true baby pink; Cheeky, on the other hand, is a cool pink; Après is a subtle, soft berry; Mood is a deep burgundy; and Raspberry Beret is the deep berry hue that I've become quite close to. I usually go for cool pinks, but over the last few months, I've gotten very into purple-berry hues, and I don't see myself going back anytime soon. I feel like richer plums add this really natural flush to my cheeks, the type of flush you'd get from going on a run outside in the cold (without actually having to go on a run outside in the cold).
The inspiration behind the blush: "Flush Balm was designed to be the answer to all our usual issues with blushes," explains Aila Morin, the SVP of brand, growth, and innovation at Merit. "Its lightweight, creamy formula looks soft and dewy without masking your natural skin texture; it's sheer yet buildable, making it impossible to mess up and super versatile, and it was formulated without pore-clogging ingredients like coconut oil, which are often found in clean beauty products. The result is a natural-looking glow that's never cakey or acne-triggering."
What makes it so special: "Flush Balm is a super-blendable formula that easily becomes one with the skin. It's a great product when you want your blush to look believable," says makeup artist Jenna Menard.
What makes it different from other cream blushes: "Our Flush Balm has skin-nourishing ingredients, like vitamin E, that leave a subtle glow and make your skin feel moisturized. The formula also has a low molecular weight emollient, which softens your skin and gives it a velvety finish without clogging pores or feeling heavy. The emollient in the formula also constructs a breathable layer that keeps color intact throughout the day. And my favorite detail is that Flush Balm was designed to be the perfect on-the-go product—it's small, lightweight, and fits perfectly in one hand, so you can apply it anywhere," says Morin. "Plus, it can actually be used anywhere on the face—if I don't have time to put on any other makeup, I'll add a quick swipe onto my lips, cheeks, and a bit on my eyelids for a monochromatic look."
How to find your go-to shade: "The shades work well with all skin tones because of the sheer, buildable formula. I love to have a basic, neutral flush like Après or Mood and a pop of color like Persimmon or Cheeky in my bag," explains Morin. "You can also mix shades to create a custom color just for you."
Unexpected places you can apply it: "Blush is always great on the lids and lips in addition to the cheeks. I love to bring a whole makeup look together by using one product multiple places on the face," says Menard. "Applying with a brush for lips and lids allows you to use the product differently but keep the tone consistent. Since there's a lot of area on the cheeks, blush placement is key for different looks: For something fresh and poppy, use a bright shade on the apples of the cheeks; use a deep shade below the cheekbones swept up as a blush contour; for a natural flush, use a shade closest to your natural cheek color and apply mid-cheekbone upward; for a faux post-workout flush, apply a deeper version of your natural cheek color to the center of your cheeks pulled down a bit."
Best application tips: "I love utilizing the dome-shaped stick right on the face," says Menard. "It allows just the right amount of product to dispense on the skin and then can easily be blended with a brush into the skin even further. Sometimes I just tap it on for even less product. You're always able to work your way up and build the desired intensity. For more control, you can use a brush and tap into the product rather than going straight to the face. It's great for achieving a subtler blush look."
SHOP ALL MERIT BEAUTY FLUSH BALM SHADES