Every now and then a beauty product comes along that makes not only an impact on beauty journalists like myself but also completely changes the way that all of us shop for beauty products. While you might not be particularly into makeup, chances are you’ve probably spotted an increasing amount of eyeshadow palettes on offer over the past few years. From Boots to Selfridges, eyeshadow is really big business in the beauty industry. But it’s really only been in the past decade that consumers have started buying their eyeshadow colours in palettes—rather than just one-off shades. Prior to this, eyeshadow palettes really were the domain of makeup artists only. And why wouldn’t they have been? There aren’t many of us that need 30 eyeshadow shades on hand at any given time, after all.
Fast forward to 2019 and fashion girls and celebrities are stepping out in bright eyeshadow colours and experimenting with smokey eyes on the daily. But what was it that caused this shift in our obsession with eyeshadow? Well, I’d put it down to one classic beauty product—the Urban Decay Naked Palette. First launched in 2010, the Naked palettes (of which there are now many) are so popular that during the first year of a new palette launch, the brand sells one every 5 seconds. That’s a lot of eyeshadow.
So what was it that caused the Urban Decay Naked Palette to totally shake up our approach to eyeshadow experimentation and become a must-have for beauty junkies, makeup artists and celebrities alike? Keep scrolling and I’ll fill you in.
The Naked journey
Launched 9 years ago, in 2010, I was interested to know what the motive was for Urban Decay to create this cult palette in a landscape that was all about the single pot eyeshadows at the time.
“The idea for our original Naked palette came from a brainstorm I had with my product development team," explained Wende Zomnir, Founding Partner of Urban Decay. "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."
The palette reached stratospheric levels of popularity pretty instantly, re-defining the world of eyeshadow in 12 shades. In fact, it was so successful that even attracted celebrities fans like Kate Middleton who reportedly recommended it to Michelle Obama. Praise indeed.
And it didn’t take long for the brand to catch on to just how major the Naked franchise could become. Soon, the idea of what a ‘naked’ or ‘nude’ shade was expanded, with the introduction of Naked2, a cooler toned option, and then Naked3, a rosy take on the original.
The mix of matte, shimmer and metallic shades in each palette mean that—although it might look overwhelming at first—these palettes are actually a great option for eyeshadow newbies. The shades range from lightest to darkest and keeping within a neutral colour palette means there's no risk of veering off trend with your colour selection.
After that, there was really no stopping UD. Spin-offs started popping up each year, with launches such as Naked Smoky, Naked Cherry, Naked Basics, and my personal favourite: Naked Heat (which was, FYI, the biggest beauty product launch of 2017 — it sold out in under 4 hours).
In 2018, Urban Decay made the brave decision to cut ties with the original Naked Palette by discontinuing their beloved bestseller. It had sold an incredible 30 million palettes in its 8 years on sale.
A tongue-in-cheek statement was released by the brand, which prompted most beauty fans around the world to go into mourning:
"Today, the beauty world mourns Urban Decay’s beloved Naked Palette, the product that revolutionized neutral eyeshadows," the statement read.
"A little bit naughty, often dramatic, and always in the press, the innovative game-changer and category creator will be laid to rest after eight years, without a smudge of regret. Passionate Naked collectors — and pretty much anyone with eyes — will remember Naked as the beauty product that changed their lids forever. It was beautiful and mythical and millions of superfans, from misfits to moms to models, will miss Naked from Virgin to Gunmetal."
However, despite the original palette no longer being available, the Naked franchise is in fact bigger than ever, with its other eyeshadows still available (there are 9 palettes to date, excluding the limited editions), and a new ‘Naked Reloaded’ option out on the market too.
From the second Naked palette to the brand’s new Stay Naked Foundation, which comes in an impressive 50 shades, here is every palette you can now buy from the franchise—along with a selection of the best Naked complexion offerings.
12 neutral, taupe-toned eyeshadows in a mix of matte, shimmer and sparkle finishes.
A rosy take on the neutral palette with 12 shades of pinks, plums and purples.
A handbag-sized edit of everyday neutral eyeshadows.
If you're not one for sparkle or shine then this completely matte palette will be right up your street.
Warm browns, burnt oranges and brick reds make this palette one of my favourites of the bunch.
A super-sweet mix of peaches, plumps and champagne neutrals.
One of the newest launches from Urban Decay comes in the form of this mix of wearable, neutral shades.
Your complexion will be taken care of with this handy palette containing a bronzer, highlighter and blusher.
A weightless, liquid formula that meshes with your skin for a fresh-faced, even complexion.
This formula manages to brighten, conceal and even skin tone.