How Urban Decay’s NAKED Palettes Became the Most Popular Eyeshadows Ever
In our column That One Product, we tell the story of how your favorite beauty brand’s cult-classic products came to be—and why we can't stop buying them.
From the way I’ve seen women protect their Urban Decay NAKED Palettes, you’d think the product was made of diamonds, not talc and mica. The 12-shade, neutral eyeshadow palette is simply worshipped, and is arguably the most popular eyeshadow collection of all time.
The numbers don’t lie: On top of being the number-one eyeshadow brand in the U.S. for five years straight, the NAKED palette has netted Urban Decay over $1 billion in sales since its initial launch in 2010. When you type “Urban Decay NAKED Palette” into YouTube, over 380,000 results pop up. The NAKED line now offers multiple versions with varying colors. NAKED Heat, a compilation of warm, amber-hued shades, is currently the most popular.
Shockingly, the NAKED palette isn’t the brand’s best-selling product (that record goes to the All-Nighter Setting Spray), but when you think of Urban Decay, you think of neutral eyeshadow. The product is synonymous with the brand. It’ll forever be duped, and countless makeup brands—luxury and drugstore—have attempted to create a comparable neutrals palette at similar or more-affordable price points, yet none have reached the same cult-classic popularity level.
"I knew the Naked Palette would be a hit, because it was fulfilling a need, but I never could have guessed how big of a hit it would be," says Urban Decay's Chief Creative Officer and Founding Partner, Wende Zomnir.
That need? A $54 palette filled with essential shades that could create multiple looks for any occasion—or, in Wende’s words, the palette you’d want to take to a desert island.
VIDEO: 4 Looks to Go From Day to Night Using Naked Cherry Palette
"The idea for it came from my product development team and I," she says. "We were sitting around and were like well, if you had to take four eyeshadow shades to a desert island, what would those eyeshadow shades be? And we threw them on the table and they actually made a beautiful palette. A couple were dupes, and one didn’t fit, so we tweaked it a bit, and there it was: a mix of neutrals in a variety of hues and finishes."
When you think of the amount of palettes you have sitting around, filled with one or two shades you actually use and a bunch of neons you never touch, you realize the idea was genius. The palette can be used to create daring evening looks, but also has everything you need for 9-5 makeup. Think gunmetal grays, rose golds, chromes, beiges, pale pinks, and chocolate browns.
Back to that over $1 billion in sales? I'm not shocked. It's easy to justify purchasing a $54 palette when you know you'll empty out every single tin.