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Urban Decay Naked Palette
illustration Holly Benwell

R.I.P Urban Decay’s Naked palette, you beautiful soul

As the make-up brand discontinues its star product, we eulogise the OG that was there through millions of smoky eye journeys

The Urban Decay Naked palette was conceived and produced for the first time in 2010. Its aesthetic is driven by the smoky, glinting big city with iridescent oil slick greys that evoke the metropolis, warm, pigmented neutrals and tongue-in-cheek shadow names like ‘Smog’ and ‘Virgin’. The brand Pied Piper-ed faithful followers from Rihanna to Gwen Stefani and Shirley Manson, as well as beauty bloggers across YouTube how-tos and IG explore pages, captivating women and their cross-generational makeup bags, with just one original rectangular box.

The palette includes 12 shades of neutral colours in various finishes of matte, shimmer, and satin. It’s endlessly versatile – whether you’re 16-years-old and making that awful mistake of cloaking your entire eyelid in sooty ‘Creep’, swiping hungover eyes with ‘Sin’ to distract from three-vodka-mixers-for-a-fiver flushed cheeks, or dabbing ‘Half Baked’ on to avert just about any make-up disaster. It cemented itself as a cult fave, making neutrals interesting and rich and dramatic smokier looks accessible. Now, it’s been announced that the Newport Beach-born brand intends to discontinue the OG Naked palette. Across its eight-year reign, over 30 million palettes have been sold worldwide, breaking over $1 billion in sales. Long live Naked, she will be honoured and missed.

“We didn’t want to just knock on the door of the cosmetics world; we wanted to knock it down,” Urban Decay’s founder Wende Zomnir told Refinery29 back in 2016. The palette gave a satin sheen to an era of the early 10s, which began to pulse with a newly eroticised, at times totally wild pop culture – Rihanna claimed her sexuality with Loud, and then got kicked out of a Northern Irish farmer’s field for filming her “We Found Love” video topless. Student’s Unions and house parties pumped with Teenage Dream and Drake bangers. Lady Gaga wore a meat dress to the VMAs and Kanye West arrived on Twitter. Memes had yet to venture past Bedroom Intruder.

For many, a dip of the soft-tipped blending brush into the chocolate-coloured box was their big beauty break, for better, or worse-but-in-the-general-direction-of-glowing-up-some-day. I received my first palette as a birthday gift before heading off to university, marking a level up from bumper Boots own-brand sets or random single pots of the same sheer neutrals or impulse-bought shocking blue. It was a gateway into step-by-step makeup routines with a sexy, professional-looking arson of product, names you’d giggle over when asked the secret combination to your smoky eye that evolved and got marginally better with every try.

For those in more rural areas, it was an object of envy among friend groups, for those who were able to drop cash on international shipping costs or were lucky enough to have their cool aunties pick them up on American holidays, before it became more widely available. The slick city girl vibe was packaged up and sent out to all corners of the world. Boxes battered, elastic straps worn and frayed, mirrors cracked and crusty, fave shadows (it’s ‘Sidecar’ for me) diligently hollowed out – brand loyalty has always been fierce. Maybe over the years we’ve defected to the rainbow shades of Morphe or given Limecrime a go when a beauty vlogger catches us in a moment, but Naked will always be the ever-present, ever-welcoming original.

“Today, the beauty world mourns Urban Decay’s beloved Naked Palette, the product that revolutionised neutral eyeshadows,” the statement from the cosmetics giant reads. “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.”

Urban Decay has released a funeral video for the palette led by Nicole Richie, who hosts a sombre eulogy with some beauty vloggers and lovers. You can buy up the remaining stock on site for now. Though we don’t know what the future holds, Mother leaves behind Naked 2, 3, Heat, Basics, and other offshoots who will honour her memory, continuing the appreciation for clean neutral eyes and dramatic cut creases of the world alike.