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Here Be Dragons: Is Urban Decay cheapening their brand?

For years Urban Decay has been at the top of my lust list. Foundations, concealers, setting sprays, lipsticks, and of course, those dreamy eyeshadow palettes – I want them all – and if you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you that Urban Decay is the brand that I aspire to own – it was a sign that I had made it!

After years of hustling so hard that my side hustles have hustles, I am finally in the position to purchase and rave about my favourite products from their range. Although there isn’t a store in PE, I do purchase from Foschini quite regularly, and most recently their newly launched online store. The problem is, I feel like they’re cheapening their brand.

Don’t believe me? Let’s back it up…

Lately, Urban Decay have been knocking out launches so quickly that it is starting to feel like they are trying hard to keep up with brands like Colourpop. Since launching their widely popular Naked Heat Palette a year ago, they have gone on to launch the Heavy Metals Eyeshadow palette for the holidays, the Troublemaker Eyeshadow palette (who thought it was a good idea to have black and white eyeshadow in the same pan, together?), the Distortion Palette (Hey Kat Von D’s Alchemy palette), Kristen Leanne’s not one but TWO eyeshadow palettes, the Naked Petite Heat eyeshadow palette, the much-anticipated Backtalk palette, the Beached Eyeshadow Palette (loving those shades!), the mini-WTF-Lightbeam palette and most recently Born to Run (which I am amped about!)

So, to round that up, they have launched TEN palettes in a year. Some are beautiful and quite different from what they’ve done before while others make me question the sanity of whoever is in charge of these things.

You’re probably wondering what’s the big deal – it’s ten palettes and I can’t possibly expect each and every one to please me. You’re probably right, but this is my rant so here’s what’s wrong:

For starters, it’s become impossible to keep up with their launches. In fact, South Africa only just got the Naked Petite Heat palette, which is 4 palettes behind the American launch schedule. As a makeup lover, it was hard enough not being able to buy their products locally, but now that they’re here – it is beginning to feel like we’re second-best and not relevant enough to receive the latest and greatest.

More realistically though, Urban Decay is not cheap – I mean, it’s in an entirely different league to Colourpop – and as a consumer, I have grown quite loyal and like supporting my favourite brands. But 10 palettes, not to mention everything else they have launched along with that? It’s just not doable unless you’re rubbing shoulders with the right people.

But okay, let’s put all of that aside and discuss how they’re just launching palettes for the sake of it.

Have you ever looked at their Naked Heat Palette? It’s one of three palettes I have actually kept to take along with me on my travels and remains my most used and most loved palette. It’s what I believe was Urban Decay’s peak. The packaging is sturdy, phenomenal, beautiful and oozes luxury – it says, I am Urban Decay – aspire to own the fuck out of me.

Now, let’s take a peak at palettes like Kristen Leanne’s two, the Backtalk, Beached, Troublemaker, and the Lightbeam palettes – all of them are made with cheap cardboard EXACTLY like Colourpop.

And I know what you are all saying, “But Megan, you LOVE Colourpop, so what’s the big deal?”

Well, they are NOT Colourpop and in case you haven’t seen, they are not selling their cardboard palettes for $16. In fact, they’re selling them for more than double the price!

So many of my friends have mentioned wanting (read: NEEDING) the Backtalk palette but when I mention that the packaging is a real shame, they’ve all done a double take and only then realized that the entire thing is made of cardboard. Although it may seem like a small thing to get over, it’s far below the standard we’ve come to know and love from Urban Decay.

I won’t lie, there have been many times that I have wondered about the people sitting in on these meetings and questioning the current direction they’re taking the company. But it’s really their recent Lightbeam palette that made me ask, what the actual F are you doing Wende? The palette is just all sorts of wrong – from the cheap packaging, tiny pans, to the badly curated colour choices – I can’t help but ask, what is the point?

Is the point just to bang out as many palettes as you can, in one year? And are you REALLY trying to compete with brands like Colourpop – if so, wouldn’t it be better to announce a more budget friendly range that is middle tier versus expecting us to pay more than double the price of a Colourpop palette just for the sake of saying, I own the latest from Urban Decay?

Don’t get me wrong, I still adore Urban Decay. In fact, just before publishing this, I placed an order for the Naked Basics palette. I’ll be honest, I’d give my left tit to own the entire range – those concealers, foundation and don’t get me started on the beautiful lipstick formula that just glides along the lips! But these recent launches have me thinking that Urban Decay has forgotten who they are – they are the brand with an edge, the brand who dared to be different. So WHYYYYYY are they trying so hard to keep up with smaller brands, especially when they have the backing from cosmetic giant LÓreal?

And if you think I am just being petty and on about nothing, I spent a few minutes scrolling through the comments of Trendmood’s Instagram picture, and here are just a few comments that feel the exact same way.

I don’t know hey, guys. I love Urban Decay . I just sort of feel like the brand is moving away from what they used to be – am I nuts? The joke is that I still like the brand enough to continue buying their stuff. Next on my list is their Beached and Born to Run palettes – I like the colours, I just wish the branding was more Urban Decay and less Colourpop / TheBalm.

I am the creator behind By Megan Kelly, mom of two boys, named Axl (4-years old) and Eli (1-year old), and local business owner of Dr. Design. I live on copious amounts of coffee, spend my free time listening to podcasts while I garden or journal, and really enjoy baking fresh treats for my family. On the weekends, you’ll likely find me exploring our local city, looking for new family-friendly places for our kids, but that’s only if I am not already shouting at the soccer on TV. I support Tottenham and enjoy pretending to know what  I am doing in the Fantasy League, but really I am just in it for the laughs. I can be bribed with chocolate and will never admit to having too much makeup – although, I probably do.

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2 Comments
  • Lydia
    Posted at 07:28h, 08 June

    Bought the Basics. Won’t be buying the cardboard ones since you pointed it out. Unless they have a super good reason for it it’s not my thing. I travel SO much. Cardboard wears. I want hard casings.

  • Rachael
    Posted at 22:35h, 07 June

    This was sooo good Megan, I always enjoy reading your honest and transparent articles ❤️