Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Am I the Only Person Who Doesn't Like:
Urban Decay?

I hate to rant about a brand. It's not like they did anything to my Grandma, or kicked my kid or something. Despite what my friends and family say, I'm generally a nice person. However. Occasionally in my line of obsession, I come across a product that I just. Don't. Get.

I'm talking about products that I hear nothing but good things about, products that win all of the "best of" awards, things everyone seems to love- but when I try them, they leave me wondering. I figure, I can't be the only one, right? So kindness be damned, I'm gonna start speaking out. It may not happen often, and I'm well aware that when it does, I'm opening myself up to a barrage of "OMG, you're crazy, that stuff is my HG, I love it, I could bathe in it!!!" All I can say is, if that's you, you'll be able to easily note the topic by the title of the post, and are welcome to comment and tell us how much you disagree with me, and of course, you're well within your rights to just skip the post altogether. But just in case there's anyone else out there wondering why their dud is everyone else's super-seeker, this is for you, so that you can know you're not alone.


Today I'm gonna complain a little about Urban Decay. As stated above, I just don't get it. Granted, their Primer Potion revolutionized eye shadow application, but for me, that's where my brand appreciation ends. Urban Decay shadows, and in particular their Limited Edition "Books of Shadows" are among the most anticipated releases in the makeup world. Their 24/7 Eye Pencils have achieved cult-status; perched at the top of everyone's "Best in Show" lists. So why am I so meh (to downright angry) at them, and can I really be the only one?

Recently, I finally got around to peeking at the newest installment of the Urban Decay library: version 3 of the Book of Shadows. It's the one with the really cute (but totally useless and wasteful) lighted, pop-up scene of New York City. Now, BOS III came out in August, so based on the fact that it took 4 months for me to hunt it down you may surmise that I didn't have that strong of an urge to get the newest book. I have the first edition of the Book of Shadows and have used it all of 5 times. Oddly, when I finally saw the new Book, I suddenly found myself wanting to buy it. I'd like to say it was the pretty colors- there are a few that look stunning. I have to admit though, it's highly likely that I was suffering from "everyone else wants it so I must too" syndrome. Whatever the case, I bought it.

I was aware when I bought it that I have a major issue with many Urban Decay shadows. Say it with me: Big. Damn. Glitter. Looking at the set, I could see that there were more than a few (7 out of 16, to be exact) with UD's signature "I love to make your face look like a disco ball" finish. I even discussed it with the sales woman, who was helpful enough to suggest a few possible remedies. Yes, I know I can put my foundation on after. Sure, I could use powder to prohibit fallout from sticking so well, or tape to remove some of the sparkle. I could foil the shadows to make the glitter stick better. All of those things are viable solutions. Except...Urban Decay glitter is a hornet, not a bee- it doesn't just sting once. That glitter just keeps coming back to taunt me, falling out all over my face, all day long. Grrr.

Again I say: I knew this, and bought the palette anyway- the other colors (especially Loaded and Psychedelic Sister- words can not express!) were just too tempting. Like any good makeup junkie, I busted the palette out as soon as humanly possible. The second I touched the brush to my lid I remembered why I passed on the previous two volumes of the Books. Um...I don't like Urban Decay shadows.

I know. Maybe I'm the only one, but even with their miracle Primer Potion, UD shadows go on wimpier than they should, blend murkily and fade more than just about any other brand at that price point that I can think of. Take Loaded: a gorgeous green that I mentioned earlier. In the pan, it's a super-deep, just shy of blackened, jewel tone green. It even swatches nicely, but introduce a brush, and all of a sudden, it's just black. Which I suppose isn't all bad, since the matte black (Perversion) in the set isn't even on par with my cheapies from NYX and Sleek. Sad.

Which brings me to my next rant, a product that I think I may truly be alone in my disdain of. UD's 24/7 Eye Pencils. "They're so pigmented, they wear forever!" Yeah, um, not so much. In side-by-side comparisons, I got longer wear and less smudging out of a $5 Revlon pencil. As far as the pigmentation goes, I know that's not just me: I've used these on more than one client and can say with confidence that, while the Urban Decay pencils do go on evenly, the gel-like formula just doesn't offer the rich, bold color of a traditional liner. Granted, they come in an amazing variety of shades, but I feel like they should be better considering how much adoration they garner. And then there's that damn glitter again! Someone please tell me how I applied brown liner to my top lid only, and 2 hours later there's gold glitter under my eyes! Anyone?!?

My other gripe about the pencils is, admittedly, a personal preference. I'm a smudger. I guess you could say it's part of my style. I haven't applied pencil liner to anyone in years without using a small smudger brush (Lancome #10) to soften the line and blend it into the lash; un-smudged liner just looks raw and unfinished to me. Unfortunately, Urban Decay 24/7 pencils don't like to smudge. Try to smudge too soon and you just wipe it all away. Too late and it's set. Oh well.

Like I said, I'm sure most of you are thinking I'm crazy right about now. Maybe I am, but I seriously doubt my issues with Urban Decay are manifestations of any abnormal condition in my mind. Thing is, I've been in this business a long time, and I've used a lot of products- I feel like my experience is VERY well rounded. Something tells me that if I have this gripe, other people do too. So, I'm coming out. How about you guys? What's your "big whoop" product? Share. My hope is that you'll think of this site as a place of openness and understanding. Then, together we can all begin to heal.


dull_flame said...

I like a lot of UD's stuff, but I will freely admit that I don't love everything. The 24/7 pencils disappear on my lower lash-line, but most pencil liners do, which I HATE because that means I have to use gel or liquid liners and it aggravates my allergies.

Speaking of, I think Perversion may be a cake liner. That's the only explanation I can think of for it being so weird to apply.

I don't like the primer much, either- I get about six more months of use out of the Too Faced Shadow Insurance.

I do love the shadows, but I'm with you on the glitter fallout. The only glittery shadow of theirs I didn't see much of that with was Snatch, but it was so pale, how would I have known? :P I like the palettes because I travel a lot and it's so much easier than carrying around a bunch of loose eyeshadows- just toss in the palettes, and my basics in a box along with colored liquid liner and a few different lip things, and I'm good to go!

tahiti said...

I'm gonna say it: I don't really get Mac. Granted, I'm a Mac newbie, and I haven't really gotten into them. But I'm kind of flummoxed by a company who will release some really amazing collections.. but oh, their limited edition so you're going to have to kill your neighbor to get to them. And once you killed your neighbor, you've found out that, "Oh, they're all sold out." And then you have to go punch a unicorn. (No, I'm not bitter about the Venomous Villains Maleficient eye shadows AT ALL.)
But I'm a newbie at Mac, so that may change once I get into the brand more.
I do have to agree with you on the Urban Decay glitter thing. I was not impressed with Midnight Cowboy Rides Again in the BOS II palette.. and then they go and throw it in the III.

Mai said...

I absolutely hate their glitter shadows but the nonglittery ones apply amazingly for me. One of their shadows is a dupe for my beloved Coco pigment so I think that makes me biased.

As for the primer potion, I wear it and I like it but I am in the process of trying other brands out.

I think if anything the fact that they tend to do better bang for your buck products like the Naked palette endears me to the brand.

Melly said...

I haven't personally tried so much UD products, few eye shadows and a sample of the primer potion. Not for me, especially not for the price.

Musing on Beauty said...

There are a few things I love about UD, they have the most amazing neutrals, bronze, golds and also some very nice bright blues and aquas with crazy pigmentation!
UDPP, of course, is a must.
Now I could totally do without the tacky and heavy packaging, the dirty names (English not being my mother tongue, I don't get half of it, though) and those huge chunk of glitter in some of their eyeshadows! I think BOS1 was the best (only 1 glittery mess, that stupid Midnight Cowboy) and I love my Naked palette, but the brand image, not so much!

Jasmine said...

I dont own anything by UD, because its not sold in NL. but i can understand that you dont love it, i mean, it would be weird if the whole world loved it. Everyone has different things they like and everyone has a different skin. I still want a book of shadows some day...but its not like i -need- it. I just want to try out the brand because everyone talks about it, and form my own opinion. im not a big fan of hyped brands the whole chanel polishes...dont get it.

Anonymous said...

I like some of the UD shadows... but I do feel the same about those glittery eye shadows... yuck! And the whole 24/7 is a lie to my waterline... I also feel the same about alot of other high end brands people Rave about... then I end up that it? that's the big hype?

Anonymous said...

I dislike UD 24/7 pencils and can't see why people rave about them so much. I have had a few and they are total rubbish on the lash line and pretty crappy everywhere else. I have a £1 eyeliner I bought from the Poundshop which works better!

luckiebeauty said...

I didn't try them yet but i'm very interested! (I want to try their eyeshadow mostly).
But it seems that the pencils are really bad,the smudge easily so probably I won't try them!

femputer said...

You won't get much disagreement from me. The glitterbomb UD shadows drive me nuts as well. And I think you'd find over at MUA that not everybody's in love with the 24/7s either. Pretty much the only thing they've got going for them is their gabillion colors. My Milani Liquif'eye pencil probably lasts way better than a 24/7.

I'm becoming disenchanted with UDPP as well. Yeah, it keeps the shadows from creasing, but it also makes them 'skip' and difficult to blend as well. The packaging is simply maddening as well. I know they've come out with a new tube, but I've heard many people are having issues with it. And I just bought a new genie bottle right before the professional tube come out. I'm trying to use it up, and I'm cursing it all the way. :-/

However, SOME UD products I do love. Their shadows that aren't glittery are gorgeous. I particularly love their mattes. I guess when it comes to UD I tend to pick and choose. :)

Cydonian said...

You're not crazy... I agree with you in some ways. I've never bought a BOS, mostly because of the price, and I also know I get overwhelmed by big palettes. Too many options. I hate the primer potion -- it makes their eyeshadows even worse. I find that TFSI works better with their e/s, funny enough, and then for some of the brighter colors, using a white, sticky base helps. I will admit to absolutely loving the Naked Palette though...

As for the liners, I have a few and I do like Zero, Flipside and Ransom. However, some of them are completely useless... Mildew and 1999 for example. They don't show up! But now I've found Milani's Liquif'eyes and they are comparable, if not better. They just need more colors!

Stephtee said...

I think I'm the only person in the world that actually likes Midnight Cowboy Rides Again LOL. Sure, it makes a mess, but I've used it with some pixie epoxy and cleaned my face up afterwards and had some nice results :) I also really like their eyeshadows and UDPP (although I'd like to try some different primers.

That being said...I hate 24/7 liners! I can't get them to apply evenly, smoothly, darkly...anything!!! They disappear on my waterline faster than much cheaper products that I own. So many people say that 24/7 is their holy grail liner. I bought it and was so disappointed!

Annamax said...

I have actually never used their eyeshadows, but to be honest, I had a bad experience with their primer potion. I got the shimmer one, "Sin" I think. I used it once, it was okay. When I picked it up the next day to use it again, product was all over my hand. There weren't any holes or anything in the bottle, it was just..leaking out of the bottom. I had to return it and honestly I was too turned off by that to exchange it. Also, when I returned it, the lady working there told me several other people had the exact same problem. So, no, you are not the only one! haha

KittenMittens said...

I hate the damn chunky glitter. Even in that BOSNYC they went and ADDED glitter to Snatch! Why the eff would they do that? If they are gonna frig a colour up give it a new name like "snatched" hahaha

I have the BOS I and II and I too have barely touched them. I think X was my favourite colour along with Eldorado but since I've found indie companies, they just don't compete anymore.

I love the liners but they cost way to damn much for me to actually buy any. I have 3 and they came with sets and once they are gone they are gone.

The only liner I was willing to go out and buy was the Honey one. Then they went and got rid of it >:[

AND Last but not least, the de-slick in a tube. Does hardly anything. My Fyrinnae velvet-gel silica primer worked better and didn't cost me $38 friggin dollars.

Over-hyped and over-priced

The Glitzkrieg said...

I just don't understand the cult of product at all. People rush over top of each other to get the Books of Shadows (especially that Alice in Wonderland one), but I've found nothing special about them. I like the non-glittered eyeshadows and they are some of the most wacky coloured, yet heavily pigmented, on the prestige market but I really feel like the indie brands are scooping up that market.
My "Am I the only..." is MAC.
I've been working professionally as a makeup artist for many, many years now not only for photoshoots and weddings but also for competitions where models wearing my makeup have taken the top spot.
So I figured when I was ready to invest in MAC, they would greet me with open arms. Nope.
When I asked to learn more about their products, I was told to make an appointment and they could give me a makeover for 40 bucks. Ho-kay, so like I don't really wear much makeup myself. When I worked for Benefit, I was very much a "Lana".
So without the guidance of THEIR professionals, I started trying things out myself and I found that MAC was no better - and in some cases worse - than the "Private Label" cosmetics I would buy for 10% of MAC's cost. In many instances, I started to suspect that my $1, direct from the manufacturer, eyeliner WAS the same as MAC but without the hot stamping.
Even more so, I can spot a MAC Addict from a mile away. Every single person that puts MAC on their makeup pedestal wears their eyeshadow in the same way. Every person who has worked for MAC wears their eyeshadow the same way. Every person who WANTS to work for MAC wears their eyeshadow the same way.... And sometimes it really doesn't work for them.
I know that MAC has a corporate culture of elitism, but in this instance their snobbiness didn't pay off. I will never buy a MAC product for myself or my clients as long as I live.

KittenMittens said...

Oh yeah, and the whole releasing a new palette and 75% are repeats from other palettes. I want new stuff. It takes zero brains to say "hey lets grab these 10 eenie meenie miney mo" That's just lazy. The Sephora chick said "well it's good if you don't have any of the shadows" Well no shit, but I can almost guarantee you, most of us aren't new to the brand.

There, my mini rant done :)

Unknown said...

Wow, you guys like rants, huh? :)

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one! (I suspected...) I'm actually surprised to hear that so many of you don't care for UD Primer Potion- the one product I think actually lives up to the hype. I do understand the packaging issue, and find Too Faced Shadow Insurance performs pretty much identically for me, without the hassle of having to cut open a tube to get the dregs. (You guys do cut the tube of UDPP open, right? There's a ton in there!)

Thanks to femputer and Cydonian for reminding me about the Milani pencil. I've been meaning to check it out, but since it's often compaired to a pencil I don't like, I haven't been too motivated to track it down. Perhaps I should though, if only for journalistic integrity (right???)

tahiti & The Glitzkrieg,
I totally get you: MAC is about 75% marketing. And I have to admit, they have a powerhouse team where that's concerned. They create loyalty like I've never seen. I mean sure, MAC products are decent, & they have a good selection, but not more so than plenty of other brands. MAC is WAY overrated, I've been saying that for years. Their service, from store to corporate level, sucks. Honestly, the only reason I ever shop at MAC is that the pro discount makes it competitive with drugstore brands price-wise. Otherwise, I'd probably never shop there, and I'd definitely never shop at the free-standing stores; I get MUCH better service at Department Store MAC counters.

As far as the Limited Edition collections go, that's more good marketing. It breeds a sense of urgency. "Don't think, just buy, because if you take the time to think about it, it'll be sold out!" It's hard not to fall for it sometimes. Oh, and tahiti check out indie pigment brands for dupes of the MAC Villains shadows- I know I've seen plenty of them out there. NYX even did a line this fall that's similar (black base w/vibrant sparks). Check out shades like Frosted Ocean, Deep Space and Sensual.

Unknown said...

I know what you mean about the ease of palettes, do you have a 120 palette? If not, you must- honestly, the quality is very similar to UD's, and you can grab one on eBay for less than $15! Sure, the packaging is a little flimsy and totally generic, but you can't beat it for the money!

Also, if you're a fan of waterlining, check out Guerlain Loose Kohl powder. It's messy and it doesn't come in a ton of shades, but it stays and is totally non-irritating!

Phyrra said...

I HATE the glittery UD eye shadows, which is why I didn't buy the BOS 3 even though I coveted some of the shades. I do love some of the smooth UD shadows, such as Half-Baked, Sellout, Frigid, and Fishnet. I like the 24/7 liners, but now I'm wondering what other liners I should try.

Anonymous said...

Hate the liners, too, and I've never been shy to say it.

eRiN said...

I've never seen the appeal with UD either. Even at $2 on Hautelook, I still wasn't impressed enough to buy anything - I've got prettier, more complex colors from indie brands. I do, however, love the Lash Primer Potion - it's my newest Hg.

My own gripe/ company I don't get was Aromaleigh, all of their colors were so sheer and wimpy and SO far off what I expected based from the website ... just don't get it. However, it "could" just be the 12 colors I tried ...

dull_flame said...

@Jessica- I didn't know that! Thanks for the tip!

I'm kinda with you guys on MAC, too. I don't love everything they've ever made. Still, I was very excited when I bought my first three shadows (still haven't bought any more) and I LOVE my two Superglass lipglosses and my two lipsticks. I'd definitely buy their lip stuff before their eyeshadow.

Although they did have a class about two months before I moved out of Athens and I learned a lot and had a good time. It was $50 to sign up, but at the end you got a $50 gift card to buy stuff, so it was really like a free class!

Maria said...

Don't worry, I don't like the shadows either.

When I first started getting into makeup, I used to think that MAC was the holy grail of all eyeshadows - now? Not so much. There are SO many better brands out there for so much cheaper (Sugarpill anyone?)

Phyrra said...

UDPP originally creased on me. Eden works well. I HATED the glitter fall out from a ton of their shadows. However, I've had good results with Half-Baked (my gold addiction of the year) and Frigid (which is gorgeous). I think some of their colors are fab and others are ick. I had never experienced such bad fall out, even from loose shadows, until I tried Kidde Pool and their other glittery shades.

I think some of their products are good, and others not so much.

I do like their creamy lipsticks, too. Naked, Jilted and Trainwrecked are awesome.

KittenMittens said...

hah! I just realized I confused Scratch with Snatch. Oh well, I still hate repeats and funky chunk glitter. word. :D

Rhamnousia @ Desi Girl Does Makeup said...

I find that a lot of their stuff is a bit too glittery for me to be wearing everyday. I don't like their pencils as I have found cheaper ones which work better..

I think that their products do perform well but aren't really useful for everyday..and people get drawn into the hype of their products because their packaging is very different, for example, everyone loved Alice in Wonderland before it came out but a few weeks after..nobody said a word about it.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!!! I thought I was the only one who thought their eyeshadows are hella weak! I have the Book of Shadows Vol 1, and I had the same problem, the fade and don't blend well!
But, I'm sort of feeling that urge to get Vol 3 just because they swatch so well, thats just not fair!!

Makeup Morsels said...

hahah I feel like UD is very hit and miss with their products. While I'm not crazy about some of their palettes, I think their single shadows (particularly the shimmer and matte neutrals) apply amazingly and blend very nicely too. I've never tried their glitter shadows b/c I don't really want to go down that road.

Anonymous said...

I like the occasional UD product, but mostly I'm underwhelmed. I HATE the packaging on most of their items. At best, it's ugly and inconvenient(Daggers on lipstick handles). At worst, it RUINS your product, causing it to dry out too fast(UDPP, Ink for Eyes eyeliner), or makes it difficult to apply, even with your OWN brushes(UD Loose Pigments).

Generally, I find their palettes pretty, but unwieldy, and I HATE the discoball shades.

It just seems like they enjoy being over-hyped, rather than actually listen to feedback from their customers.

It's Me said...

I. Hate. Urban. Decay. I don't even know where to begin. Shadows that lack pigmentation, the fact their black eyeliner isn't even black -_- their pathetic range in foundations.... Overpriced lipsticks in a mostly mediocre formula (I like Gash, that's about it), I don't even know. I am displeased with just about everything. I don't even like their primer potion, I have found far superior eyeshadow primers for a portion of the cost! I feel that too over the years the formula has decreased in quality. When I used it in high school (dear god, 8+ years ago?) it was much better in pigmentation.

Skulda said...

Crap! After reading your entry and the comments I'm wondering what liner to try. I was going to get the 24/7 liners because my eyes are * apparently* watery or oily or something because there are some places my eyeliners will NOT STAY like my waterline and the outer corners just sort of bleed out outwards. (ramble ramble)

Maybe you can do an entry on some great liners you've tried or used on clients?

Mrs. Sassy said...

I agree with you on everything. I love glitter and sparkles, but UD's are just a mess! It doesn't work when the glitter and sparkles end up in all the wrong places. I think I've gotten rid of all the UD shadows I ever tried.

I agree with the other commenter who said that Milani's pencils work better than the 24/7 at a fraction of the price.

UDPP is the only UD product that I still own. I like it, but I have others that work just as well. (TFSS, Lumiere).

Anonymous said...

As far as UD, I have a teeny credit card size palette called Sell Out Face Case which is neutral shades (lips, eyes and cheeks) and also the Naked palette. Naked lives up to all the hype, and I love my Face Case also, except for the lipsticks getting all gucky and powdery. That's really not UD exclusive though.

I COMPLETELY don't see the point of the BOS and some of the other out-there packaging - my thought is "how the heck do you store these things?" I really don't get the people who already have many of the shadows and buy them just for the packaging. And also not a UDPP fan. I prefer my primer in a tube.

So in other words I think they do have some good products, you just have to weed out the crap and look beyond the image. It's kind of the same thing I went through being an (ahem) over 30 year old woman buying Bonne Bell.

And big fat triple quadruple mammoth hippo size WORD to everyone who doesn't get MAC. Completely agree that most of their mystique is hype - not to mention I HATE the way their counters are laid out so you can't see the shade names - you have to pick everythig up and look or ask the SA. I've checked out their stuff at a Cosmetics Company Outlet too, where it should hold up and speak to me if it's really good, and just wasn't impressed.

LiAnn - Sparklecrack Central said...

It's not just you.

I've got a few of the 24/7 liner pencils that I love because I haven't found that exact color / pigmentation level in my other favorite go-to eyeliner pencil brand (Sephora). They're okay, but they're not amazing. I do have some smear/transfer issues with UD pencils, with my heavy and oily lids, that - honestly - for paying $17 for a freaking eyeliner pencil, I'm still having? Meh.

There aren't too many of their shadows that I've been remotely interested in. It does help, though, that I'm such a loose-powder gal. Pressed powders interest me not at all.

I like the UDPP so much better now that it's in the tube. I know that lots of people just loved the genie-bottle packaging, but I didn't like that doefoot applicator for my lid primer. I feel like I've got far more control over the application - and I can get more even coverage.

I'm not going anywhere near their naming convention, except to say...well, they're not overweeningly saccharide. Stay classy, folks, stay classy. (Though "Bronx Hooker Chic Sisters of The Mattress Local 69" could be a class, so...hmm.)

Anastasia said...


Ahem. I like UD pencils, but I only really use Zero for waterline/tightlining. It does fade on the lid a bit but I try not to bother with much upper lash lining because I'm terrible at it. I can't use liquids, I'm not very good with gel (and mine dried up) so pencil liner is my friend, although I hate it all, really. Most of the time I fuck up my eyeshadow by effing up my liner.

Every other pencil I've tried has been too hard to use on my waterline without hurting, and didn't really give any pay-off. What should I be trying?

I'm with you on the glitter. Their metallic shadows are beautiful (although not as bold or bright as Sugarpill or any indie company) and I don't get wear out of my palettes because I have so many brighter, more complex options. The glitter shadows are ridiculous. Even if they didn't fall out I wouldn't want massive chunks of obnoxious glitter on my eyes making me look thirteen. I don't understand why they keep saying Midnight Cowboy Rides Again is a bestseller. I don't believe them. Who the fuck is buying it? No one, I bet. It's a myth, they think by TELLING US people are buying it, we will want to. I'm not falling for it.

I do LOVE their Pore Perfecting face primer though, it is wonderful. I also love their lash primer and lip primer. Their primers in general, I am a fan of. And I hear the lipsticks are good but haven't tried any.

I've tried UDPP, TFSI and that other one by Smashbox I always forget the name of. TFSI and the Smashbox one are too dark in colour for me to use, they make me look like I have orange eye sockets and it's very weird.

Shattered said...

I have two of the "Deluxe" eyeshadows - Honey and Peace. I found good pigmentation with them, minus tons of fallout, but I tend to prefer loose eyeshadows over pressed.

I won't touch anything else UD. Especially not the 24/7 pencils, because of chemical allergies.

Ana said...

I do love the style of this post :D !

Many of the popular brands you have aren't available here (UD, MAC, NYX, Sleek, Clairsonic...) but, after reading this post and the Clairsonic one, I must say I'm looking forward to the next installment in the series, whatever it addresses and whenever that might be :) .

I'll go read the comments now.

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