Urban Decay is one of those beauty brands that inspires the kind of foaming-at-the-mouth meltdown reactions whenever a new launch is announced. Started in 1996 from co-founder Wende Zomnir’s Laguna Beach bungalow, the brand has come a long way — now a global makeup brand owned by L’Oréal. Started as a reaction to the “safe” color-scape at the makeup counters, they became known as a rebellious colorful riot. In the past two decades however, it’s expanded to redefining neutrals while maintaining its edge in the beauty community and gained a league of social media fanfare and fanatical followings. Here are some BTS things you may not have known, if you’re just familiar with the Naked Palette.
1. Urban Decay was created to rebel against the abundance of pink makeup products on the market.
In 1996, the creators of Urban Decay decided to respond to the “color void” in the prestige makeup department. The company’s first magazine ad asked, “Does Pink Make You Puke?” Wende Zomnir, the co-founder and chief creative officer of Urban Decay, told Bloomberg that the company’s first selling strategy was an aggressive grassroots approach. “I would show up at music festivals to track down Shirley Manson and Gwen Stefani and get them to try the products,” she says.
2. The grassroots effort paid off.
Stefani was one of the earliest fans of the brand, and she also created Urban Decay’s first celebrity collection. And Stefani really had a lot of say in her collection. She spent hours upon hours at her house with Zomnir working out the perfect colors.
3. In the ’90s, an Urban Decay super-fan painted her car in the same shade as one of their nail polishes.
The shade in question, Asphyxia, was a lavender shimmer with a blue shift and it was one of the brand’s first nail polish shades when they launched. After contacting Urban Decay to request gallons of it, Urban Decay obliged, requesting from their vendor if they could turn the shade into car paint…and they could. Somewhere in Southern California, there’s a Ford Explorer with the license plates: ASPHYXIA.
4. The original Eyeshadow Primer Potion inspired some dangerous missions.
Other than their famed Naked palette, Urban Decay’s prize product is their Eyeshadow Primer Potion. The original design was in a curvy plastic tube shaped to look like a whimsical genie bottle. Fans found it cute but problematic, since it made it difficult to get the last of the primer out of the tube — the wand trapped the last bits in the bottom corners. Zomnir discovered a whole blogger community dedicated to de-potting product and trading hacks. Among the tools implemented: tweezers, steak knives, power drills, saws, and a meat cleaver. They later changed the packaging to a squeezable tube, making it way easier to use to the last drop.
5. Proof that palettes are a literal investment.
Urban Decay’s limited-edition collections are known to be popular launches, garnering a lot of fanfare and attention pre and post-drop. Their most surprising, to them, was the Alice in Wonderland Book of Shadows (in conjunction with the live action 2010 Tim Burton-directed film). Launched in January 2010, it sold out in just two hours, leaving those who didn’t snag one to resort to eBay. The auctioned palettes went for as high as $500 per. The original retail price was $52.