Makeup addicts already know all about the launch of the Gwen Stefani x Urban Decay eyeshadow palette. As Urban Decay’s biggest collaboration yet, even before it was released, it was the most anticipated makeup item this year. With loyal UD users on deck and Stefani fans ready to support their “Orange County Girl”, pre-sales on UrbanDecay.com quickly filled up and Sephora VIB and VIB Rouges had early access to order theirs. On December 1, the masses were able to get their hands on it, as Macy’s and Ulta eagerly stocked their shelves too.
But the palette has surprisingly been one of the most controversial makeup items in recent let’s get glam history. Though excitement was high about it, fans have not withheld their disappointment in the color selection. To her credit, Stefani isn’t known to be wild and fun with her eye makeup as often as she is with her fashion choices. When it comes to beauty, she’s actually quite classic. Having become synonymous with red lipstick. But her fashion has almost always been otherwise. Just these past American Music Awards, she wore a vampy, Elvira-type dress/pantsuit ensemble to the red carpet. Back in the ’90s, she one-handedly made Adidas track pants IT (just one of many trends she popularized. My personal favorite? Her blue hair at the 1998 MTV VMAs). But her palette for Urban Decay is substantial on lightened neutrals and sparkly pastels. You could easily mistake this for an Adele exclusive!
Many still wanted the palette (it’s Gwen!), but social media exposed the apprehension. As pale-skinned and Caucasian women uniformly steamed at it not being similar to Urban Decay’s mega Vice palette, us brown girls, who are also Gwen fans, needed to know this much. With such an emphasis on bone and beige, would the palette look good on us?
I for one couldn’t wait for this palette! But my annoyance weighed heavy. What made Urban Decay think Stefani didn’t have any women of color (WOC) fans that would be excited to wear her products? I don’t believe that the company or her purposely held a silent attack on the brown and Black girls when concocting the original shades for Stefani x UD, but they could’ve been more thoughtful considering the No Doubt lead singer has been famous for nearly 20 years. Somewhere along the way, she picked up some Black female fans that rock out with her too.
So, I waited until December 1 to swatch them in person. By the then, I curious as hell! Was this palette really a hot mess?
Truthfully, the colors are prettier in person but yes, they are light and flirt with being a tad pasty. The culprit shades for getting Urban Decay and Stefani fans shook goes as follows: Blonde, Bathwater, Skimp, Anaheim, Stark, and Zone. Between them, there are minuscule differences of shades of yellow and fallow or buff. Honestly, even to the naked eye, you just look at them and go “Soooooo…” It’s not that Bathwater or Blonde aren’t nice. But for the palette to have six or seven of these types was a minor waste. What this palette could’ve used were some dope shades of green, purple or a deepened tan with shimmer to set it off! Like that bottom row? It’s the best part where POP, Harajuku, Danger, 1987 and Blackout just look so inviting! I will say that texture wise, the UD shadows are smooth.
Now to the good part on whether the palette is #BrownGirlFriendly. It is not a loss cause. This palette can and does work for us. It may not be voted the most flattering amongst all women of color. There are certainly others. (Like Carli Bybel’s palette for BH is more universally flattering). But levels of cuteness can be achieved with #GwenxUD for my chocolate sistas.
Once you’ve selected the shades you want to wear, you’ve just got to blend, blend, blend, blend! This is eyeshadow protocol, but it counts more than ever in this case. And to completely fall in love with your look from this palette, dark eyeliner and mascara are a must. Most eyeshadows regardless need this powerful duo, but again, in this matter, it is imperative. And pack it on! Make it count. Do a mean wing, cat-eye or strong tight line and lots of mascara. It will make your look come together.
I’ve been wearing it every other day since purchasing it to really test it out. The Gwen fan in me wants to believe in it, but I do honestly do like it. So far I’ve applied Zone, Anaheim, and Stark as my base. (I originally hated Stark. I referred to it as invisible eyeshadow. It’s the lightest shade EVER). On my lid, I’ve reached for Steady, Baby Harajuku, POP and 1987 (still working with that one. It’s got to work. It’s my birth year). And for the crease, Punk and Serious. On two separate occasions, I also used Urban Decay mascaras such as Perversion (amazing) and Big Fatty (underrated).
My results are below! If you’re still interested in the palette, be sure to check it out yourself at Sephora, Ulta, Macy’s, wherever Urban Decay is sold and its flagships in California at a price point of $58.