Merle Norman Review

- Merle Norman

Merle Norman: Company and Product Overview

Merle Norman Cosmetics is a Los Angeles-based company that sells a line of skin care products, makeup, and fragrances. The company has been in business since 1931. Merle Norman focuses on American-made cosmetics and fragrances that are distributed from two major warehouses in L.A. and in Memphis to over 2,000 retail franchises throughout the country. The company now uses its own research and development team to create new cosmetic and fragrances. The main focus of Merle Norman Cosmetics is two pronged; with one aspect being the development of products for consumers and at the same time to develop franchise opportunities for small business owners.

Discover the Best Skin Care Products of 2017

Merle Norman Company History

Merle Norman launched her first cosmetics studio in Santa Monica, CA, after creating and demonstrating her own homemade products to friends and family. She was one of the first cosmetics specialists to allow her customers to try on her products before making a purchase.

After she opened her first studio with the assistance of her nephew, J.B. Nethercutt, she began to perform before-and-after makeovers to further market her cosmetics. Once her studio became successful, she gave other women the opportunity to open their own Merle Norman studios through a franchising program.

Discover the Best Skin Care Products of 2017

Merle Norman Product Information

Merle Norman carries a wide variety of skin care products as well as cosmetics. Items include serums that get rid of wrinkles and fine lines, exfoliating masks, facial creams that are designed to get rid of acne, as well as several items for men.

The company does not allow its franchisees to sell products out of their homes or online, so any products that you may find online are likely not authorized for sale by the company.

Cosmetic product prices range from $8.00-$16.00 and include foundation, eye shadow, mascara, lip liner, eye liner, and blush. Prices may vary from studio to studio, and customers should call their local Merle Norman studio for exact prices and availability while they are comparison shopping for cosmetics.

Purchasing Merle Norman Products

While there are no Merle Norman cosmetics available on the website, there is a studio locator available, along with franchise information and detailed information about the products. Customers can browse for products via a drop-down menu and read more about how each one might benefit their skin. Merle Norman reviews from customers are not offered on the site, and there is no other supporting information except what the company provides.

Customers can also purchase gift certificates at any Merle Norman studio. Customers who shop at the studios can take advantage of a number of other services there, such as express makeovers, skin assessments, consultations for brides-to-be who want to coordinate their dress and their cosmetics, and a number of spa treatments.

Merle Norman studios will also often let customers try on products first, which can make it helpful when making a purchasing decision. However, as with any retailer that allows you to try products first, keep in mind that the person behind the counter is likely not a skin care specialist and is there to make a sale – not necessarily to help you find the best product. Therefore, it is important to stay objective when trying on any new product, and first ensure that it truly is right for your skin.

Merle Norman Returns

Return policies for each Merle Norman studio may vary from state to state. Most studios offer their customers up to thirty days to return any purchase, but franchise owners may set their own policies and rules. Because no franchise owner is permitted to sell any cosmetics or fragrances online, items purchased at online auctions or retail websites cannot be returned to any franchise location.

Merle Norman Franchise Information

The website also offers advice and franchise information for those who want to open their own Merle Norman studio. There is an extensive FAQ section that covers how to find an available location, how to get financing, and how the Merle Norman Company will assist you should you decide to own and run a location.

The Best Skin Care Lines

The absolute best skin care line of 2017 is Advanced Dermatology.

Followed by RéVive and La Praire

- Merle Norman


  1. Laura

    When I was 18 years old I started to break out. My skin then was oily. My mother took me to Merle Norman and I started with the original powder base and my skin began to clear. My mother, maternal-grandmother, aunts, cousins all have used Merle Norman throughout their lives. A few times I tried other products and always return to Merle Norman. I am now 72 and still receive compliments on my skin. Wrinkles didn’t start to appear until I turned 70 and I’ve been mistaken to look 15 to 20 years younger than my age. I felt it was about time that I praised Merle Norman for their quality and consistent products.

  2. L

    Started using their products in the early 80s, their basics and a few skin care products. Excellent advice on product and color choices, and daily work makeup routine as well as more glam look for special occasions. Their representatives understood that makeup colors can look great in a store but hideous under office lighting, and helped me make appropriate choices. The only product line I ever used that seemed to reduce breakouts and not aggravate existing breakouts. (Even the pro-active I tried later, briefly, made breakouts worse, yikes.) Noticed at work especially, my coworkers were constantly reapplying their cosmetics, but my merle norman held up all day, no fading, no breakthrough oily issues, no fading of blush, no little pieces of mascara falling off, etc. (And I have oily dry skin.) I would reapply lipstick after lunch, that was all. Easy to remove their water based products, so less wear and tear on ones’s face, and hopefully less wrinkles as an added benefit. Although am diligent about replacing products frequently, noticed their products seem to maintain quality longer. A big plus, they have individual fresh samples at their stores, so you are not trying a sample that has been sitting open for days, dabbled in by multiple customers. Although occasionally try individual products from other lines, have never found any other line that I like better, except Chanel’s cake mascara, which you apply with a tiny comb after wetting it. (And which Chanel stopped selling in the U.S. many years ago.) For a few years I had skipped makeup routine while pregnant, nursing, out of workforce, but always keep their basics on hand for events and special occasions. A excellent value for your budget, only wish my local store didn’t run out of basics items so often.

  3. Adri Golden

    I went off to college in 1967 with a “starter kit” of Merle Norman makeup and Miracol mask. I stopped using it after my Freshman year – can’t remember why. Fast forward to present day. I stopped in our local MN studio to see if SOMEONE could help me choose a foundation that was the right shade for me. I love wearing makeup, but never seemed to be able to choose a shade that didn’t look orange on me. The MN Girl (woman my age actually) pegged me immediately as IVORY. She applied some and it was PERFECT! I purchased the Timeless Foundation, and have since purchased a lovely blush, Mauve Magic, ivory face powder and even the original Powder Base. I plan to make MN my go to for makeup. I try to use botanically based skincare, but maybe I’ll try MN. I love their GWPs!

  4. Lorri

    I am all about Merle Norman! I’m a walking advertisement for them, lol. I started using the makeup and skin care at 20. I am 42 now and people always guess me 10 years younger than I am, I can’t hear it too often! My sister is 13 months older than me and you can see her eye wrinkles, and she pretty much looks her age. After seeing the difference between our skin about 3 years ago, she now uses Merle Norman. And note to the younger ladies reading this, just because you can’t see the wrinkles doesn’t mean you should not be using skin care. I strayed from Merle Norman skin care once about 10 years ago to try Cindy Crawford’s meaningful beauty. My skin went to sh*t, broke out unbelievably! Never strayed again, lesson learned. The only product they have changed that I will not buy anymore because I don’t like it, is the make up brush cleaner spray. It is extremely time-consuming to clean the brushes and they just don’t feel clean, and the brushes are not as soft as the original Merle Norman brush cleaner. It would be awesome if they could bring that product back . Other ways congratulations Merle Norman, you rock !

  5. Kathy W.

    I have used Merle Norman since I was 16 years old. I strayed away a few years ago and tried Mary Kay because I had friends who sold it and I even wasted several months using Bare Minerals. If you like mineral makeup you are way better off wearing Merle Norman mineral powder. It only has 4 ingredients and you get about 5 times the amount you get with Bare Minerals for the same price. However, I found that mineral makeup just was not for me. I have oily/combo skin (I’m 64) and I use some of the MN skin care. I try to keep it simple. Love the oil free matte moisturizer and the Brilliant C Serum. I also love the makeup. The CC Cream is the best ever and the Ultra Powder foundation powder is phenomenal. The blushes are so pretty as well as eyeshadows. The double sided lip pencils and lip glaze cannot be beat. I can’t say enough about MN products. I always get compliments on my skin and my makeup.

  6. Jan Alos

    I have used ALL and ONLY Kerle Norman products since I was 18. Great skin. Everyone complemented me.
    NOW since I have had to stop my hormones my face is NOW in dire need of everything.
    I have wrinkles and lines wear I never did before AND my sagging chin skin is embarrassing becUse it is all people see and make notice of. I use the neck creme and this is what I get. Any suggestions? Can’t go back on hormones. Any good suggestions!!!

  7. Cammy

    I’m 72 and started using MN 3 Steps to Beauty (Miracol, powder base, cold cream) when I was 12. Without exception when people learn my age, their jaws drop open, and I mean literally. Bar none, this is the best skin care line on the market. It is still the original formula as at inception in 1931. They have added products beyond the Miracol, powder base and cold cream so if your shtick is whatever type of product every other bunch sells, you can get similar ones from MN. For my sensitive skin, the 3 basic items mentioned above are perfect, along with their Gentle Moisturizer. The powder base has zinc oxide so you are totally protected from the sun as long as it is on your skin, with the added bonus of not having the extra step of putting on a chemical sunscreen.. The base is waterproof so it won’t degrade during the day and the loose face powder is the silkiest gossamer imaginable. I never get compliments on my makeup—instead people tell me they wish they were lucky enough to have skin as perfect as mine so they could go without makeup too, and the jaws drop again when I tell them I am wearing makeup. FWIW, if you look up reviews of MN on you’ll get a broader sample of users’ opinions (and a higher overall rating!) I am not afflliated in any way with the MN company, just a very happy user.

  8. Debbie

    Recently purchased the creamy eyeliner in the pot with a brush! When I opened the product it was already drying out. It was deprecated from the edge of the pot and difficult to apply!

  9. Alicia

    I have tried other make-up:Loreal, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, etc…but I am a Merle Norman girl-I use their skin care line too. I have oily combination skin and not only have I saved money (a little goes a long way) my skin hasn’t looked better. I think it is huge that the studio has samples and they do listen to your needs-I sound like an ad, but I really am passionate about their products and it is made in USA 🙂

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