Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: Urban Decay Naked3 Eyeshadow Palette

Regular readers already know that I am not one to swoon over Urban Decay eyeshadows. Their weird, grainy texture and their acceptable-but-not-excellent color payoff leaves me a little baffled as to why they are considered the creme de la creme of eyeshadow among otherwise perfectly scrutinizing makeup lovers.

Still, when the Naked3 palette was announced, I was swept up in the craze. It's pink. It's pink, you guys. Pink and brown. Those are my colors. I can wear them to work. I paint my face with them and pretend I am a fairy princess. And three is my lucky number. Surely, if it wasn't fate, it was at least serendipity.


I wish so badly that this was a story about how the Naked3 palette is the best eyeshadow that Urban Decay has ever produced. I wanted it to be good. I did spend my money on it, after all.

But, you guys... it's just not very good. It's not awful, but it's yawn-inducingly mediocre.


The packaging is totally fine; the metal tin is a rosy bronze with a wavy pattern that is reminiscent of what happens when you are reading in the bath, accidentally let water splash on your book, and then let it dry.


There's a big fatty mirror and twelve 0.05oz eyeshadows that are arranged in some approximation of lightest to darkest. There's also a double ended brush.


Strange is a matte almost-white-but-not-quite with a dash of pink thrown in. I have noticed that it is very difficult for even top-notch eyeshadow companies to make really lovely matte whites, so I usually don't have very high expectations for them. Strange is totally fine, but it leans on the powdery side and, as a result, it takes a lot of layers for the eyeshadow to actually stay. I feel like I apply it and it kind of drifts off my eye and I have to keep building and building to get some good color. For a matte white, it's perfectly okay. It's certainly no "Tako by Sugarpill", though!

Dust is the shade in this palette that actually makes me mad. I have no idea what the fuck is going on with this shade. It has the texture of cornflakes. You don't swatch this color-- you chip at it and hope some of the hunks land somewhere near your eye. It's a pale pink metallic that looks all kinds of gorgeous in the pan... until you actually swatch it. Then it looks like your eyeshadow contracted a skin condition. (Seriously. Scroll up and look at that picture.) What's more, 99.99% of that random eyeshadow dust adorning my pictures came from Dust. I would say, then, that "Dust" is an appropriate name, but at least dust is smooth. On top of that, it's not even pigmented.

I would be a little less angry if this was a color I wasn't actively excited about. If this was some random brown, I would be okay. But, as it is, I'm seriously pissed that someone from Urban Decay thought that this was an appropriate level of quality. I can just picture them throwing up their hands and going, "Eh, good enough!"

Burnout is a pearly peach with totally acceptable color payoff.

Limit is probably the best shade in the palette in terms of pure eyeshadow quality. This mauve-y dusty rose is rich, pigmented, and easily blended.

Buzz is a frosty dark rose color. It leans pretty metallic, but, despite the disasters found in the other metallics in this palette, it's got pretty nice color payoff and no more fallout than what you kind of expect when you choose Urban Decay as your brand.

Trick is a frosty copper. It's got decent color payoff, but it's also got some of the weird texture problems that Dust has, just to a lesser extent. This is such a bizarre flaw; I've never used eyeshadow with this problem before.

Swatches from left to right: Strange, Dust, Burnout, Limit, Buzz, Trick

The darker shades have more consistent quality, but they are less exciting. 

Nooner is a warm, medium-brown matte. (This one is also pretty lovely in terms of quality.)

Liar is a medium brown with a frosty finish.

Factory is a warm dark brown with a satin finish.

Mugshot is a frosty, metallic taupe.

Darkside is a purple-ish brown with a satin finish.

Blackheart is a dark brown not-quite-black with red glitter.

Swatches from left to right: Nooner, Liar, Factory, Mugshot, Darkside, Blackheart
Although the darker shades were all pretty acceptable, I didn't buy the palette for the darker shades. Hell, if I could have bought the lighter six shades separately, I would have done so in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, the quality on those was inconsistent, with some (Dust) having truly atrocious quality.


The double ended brush looks gorgeous, but it's not particularly functional. The synthetic bristles are so smooth that they feel borderline greasy, which isn't necessarily a flaw, but it was not my favorite feature. One side is definitely a "pack on the shadow" brush, although its ability to do so is only so-so. The other, though, I have no idea. It's not fluffy enough to be a blending brush. (Trust me, it blends like crap.) It won't pack on shadow. It can't do anything precise. So... why is it there...?

Urban Decay also included four samples of four of their eyeshadow primers: the Original, Eden, Sin, and their Anti-Aging Primer. I've tested the efficacy of the Urban Decay Primer Potions here, and they're fine but... definitely not the best thing on the market.

Urban Decay states that each sample contains a week's worth of primer. I actually think it's a great deal more than that. They didn't label how big the samples were, but, comparing them to other samples that I have, I'd guesstimate that each contains around 0.05 fl oz of primer. The total, then, would add up to 0.2 fl oz of primer. That's a lot-- a full size tube of Primer Potion is 0.37 fl oz for $24, putting the estimated retail value on these samples at around $12.97. My biggest concern with these would be preventing the samples from drying up!


Here are a few looks I have created using the Naked 3 palette:

This is what happens when you bronze the fuck out of my face.

Putting aside the value of the brush and the eyeshadow primer, this palette costs $52 for 0.6 oz of eyeshadow, putting it at $86.67 per ounce. That's a very reasonable price.

The reason that I am so frustrated with this palette is because the shades that kind of sucked were the shades that had enticed me to shell out my money. If you look at those shades and think, "Eh, I could take 'em or leave 'em", you probably won't be crying your heart out over your decision to make a purchase. Hell, the mattes (used in the first look above) are actually pretty great and plenty of the shadows are just fine. Personally, though, I'm pretty bummed.

54 comments:

  1. I don't think I've ever read a *funny* makeup review before! Following.

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  2. If I wasn't fully in love with your blog already, I would be from this post alone. I do LIKE urban decay but I dont LOVE the shadows. It boggles my mind they are considered the best of the best by so many. I am also so annoyed and done with the social media team and the games that they play that overall I am just kind of OVER the brand.

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    1. I think a lot of bloggers are just buying into the marketing and hype, which annoys me. I continue to be underwhelmed by UD, particularly when I consider the price points of various products. I can get better performing products and value elsewhere.

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    2. UD is my favorite and by far most purchased brand, but not because they're the highest quality. It's for their particular color selection and especially their palettes... the value is really good most of the time, and they (and too faced) assemble some really incredibly useable and versatile palettes... most of the time.

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    3. I don't think UD is ever crap, but I do think you can usually find better products is the same pricepoint...

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  3. I only ever bought urban decay before - on the maybe one or two occasions in my entire life when I bought eyeshadow, oh except for a really pretty duochrome from something else - because they were basically marketing directly to me. "Here, have some edgy names that make you feel like makeup is okay and like you're not confirming by buying it! You like tons of glitter, don't you? We have a faux-eco-friendly aesthetic - look at our limited-edition bamboo packaging!"

    Now I realize that it gets fallout all over my face, which means it doesn't stay in one place on my eyes even, and the glitter actually makes me look cross-eyed.

    Where's the wet n wild trio that I think your review made me buy....

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    1. That's a bummer! If you do feel like you want to use the UD, you can always do your eye makeup before your face makeup and clean up the fallout!

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  4. I do like Urban Decay, but I really wasn't too terribly excited for this palette when it came out. I have Naked 2 and I use it a lot in conjunction with the Lorac Pro Palette, but the Naked 3 looked sort of....boring. And I have heard about a lot of issues with the fallout of those shades as well, but I'm still glad I read your review on it! I saw it in Ulta today and thought maybe there was a chance I'd give in and buy it, but I think I'll spend my money on something more consistent!

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    1. It's hard not to put shiny new things in your shopping cart...

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  5. Oh! Such a shame about Dust! I do so love sparkly things, but you're much easier to track if you're shedding a trail of shimmer from your eyelids...

    I should probably try to make a dent in my Naked 2 palette before I start eyeing up the Naked 3 one anyway!

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    1. On the bright side, you can find your way home if you get lost in the woods.

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  6. I have all three Naked palettes, and this one is by far the worst... and so disappointing this might be the end of my relationship with UD. The first two, the quality was plenty good. Highly pigmented and very blendable, the only issue was fallout and a bit of powderyness as per usual with UD, but that doesn't bother me as long as it looks good.

    This one is absolutely horrendous in quality, especially in the best colors, and it's completely unacceptable to me that this was allowed to be released. I feel so ripped off, like they knew they could coast on the name alone now and don't have to actually make a good product. Boo, Urban Decay. Boo.

    It's still useable and I've made some really pretty looks out of it so far... but for the price I paid, I'm still really pissed about how much work it is to get anything out of these shadows.

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    1. I agree! There are lots of things that I can make look pretty good, but it doesn't justify all the work it took to get there!

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    2. I could have written this. I have a drawer dedicated to my UD palettes, but Naked 3 pissed me off so badly that I am on a no buy with the brand. I also sent 3 back after contacting UD customer service. They have a 90 day return policy so you can send it back if you don't love the product,by the way. I have never returned makeup, but I made an exception for this crapfest- I wouldn't give this to a child to play with-even ELF is better quality. I was so excited for this palette, talked about it for months, stalked its progress online, drove my friends and husband crazy....now I just glare at it when I see it in stores. I feel betrayed!

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  7. I was honestly pretty excited for this palette when I heard it was going to be pink colors. Then I started looking at the colors and there were maybe 2 (Buzzed and Nooner) that make it stand out compared to my original naked palette. Then I was going through old palettes and in my $10 UD Deluxe box sits a wonderful rose brown shade that suit my needs, Scratch. And Scratch and Buzzed are pretty damn similar, So instead of spending $52 for Naked 3 so I could have one rose hued matte, I spent $48 for Laura Mercier Artist Palette for the Eyes. And I am in love with it and it is not comparable to anything in my collection!

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    1. I have heard great things about that palette!

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    2. Where on earth did you find the Laura Mercier palette recently?! I've been looking for it like crazy!

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  8. I'm so-so on this palette. The quality isn't very consistent across all of the colors and it doesn't match my other UD products in terms of pigmentation, but I was excited about (and still am, yay!) the darker shades in this palette. I got mine with the BI rewards card so for $40 I'm pleased with it, but not like overwhelmingly jumping up and down telling everyone to buy it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    1. Good! I'm glad it's at least meeting expectations for you.

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    2. PS. Now I'm super curious - if you're not a huge fan of UD shadows, which brand eyeshadows are your super fave HG?

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  9. Dust really does look like Cornflakes crumbs in that swatch! Glad to see a review that isn't harping on about how good it is! I'm very so-so on this palette as well.

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    1. Who doesn't want an eyeshadow that reminds them of breakfast cereal crumbs?

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  10. What's your lipstick color in the third picture? I've never been able to find a brown plum that didn't make me look like a goth chick who couldn't commit, and with our similarly "pale as fuck" coloring, I think I can make that work for me.

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    1. It's Pixi's Lip and Line in Orchid Rose.

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  11. I had been wanting some pink shadows recently (I don't own much eyeshadow, yet) so this is very useful.

    Also, where did you get the Space Needle shirt?!? I may need one.

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    1. It's the Skeleneedle shirt from Imaginary Trends (see here: http://imaginarytrends.wordpress.com/merch/tshirts/bone-needle_t-shirt-mock-up/)

      Sadly, it looks like their Etsy shop closed...

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  12. Thanks for this review! I was tempted when I first saw the colors, but now I'm seriously reconsidering.

    What is your personal creme de la creme of eyeshadow brands? I have a bunch of UD because like you said, everybody hypes them up, but I think I'm ready to move onto something better.

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    1. The LORAC Pro palette, to me, is exactly what pressed eyeshadow should be like. (Not all LORAC eyeshadow products live up to that standard, though!)

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    2. I wear the pro palette every single day, just about. Everything from "time to put on the grownup drag to go deal with the PTA" to "stand back, ladies, I have a show to do in a poorly-lit venue!" It's amazing. If I could just use one eyeshadow palette for the rest of my life it would be that one.

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  13. Thanks for the review - I guess I'll stick to Silk Naturals' dupes of Naked 3.

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    1. They look like pretty imperfect dupes from the swatches (mostly because the texture is so much more uniform in the Silk Naturals' version), but if you just like the colors, they should do the deed!

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  14. Dang IT. I was hoping this was good. So, who makes a glittery eyeshadow that you like? I love glitter eyeshadow -- it's part of my plan to try and slide directly from Whimsical Young Woman to Eccentric Old Lady without ever making more than a passing stop at Responsible Adult -- but it seems like they're all gritty, or have shitty color payoff, or have massive fallout. Individual shadows can fix one, or even two of those problems, but I've yet to find one that can fix all three!

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    1. Being a reasonable adult is overrated.

      Stila MagMetals have been my go-to for glam this winter, but I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for or not. I also love indie brands for wacky glitterbombs!

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  15. I am actually quite happy with Naked 3 (it helps that I got it for $32), although I think a couple of the darker colors are a bit redundant. I am displeased with the brush--it's scratchy--and that UD thinks their samples are resealable, which they are not without tape. But the colors are mostly ones I wanted but didn't have, and I can work well with the textures. Definitely not for everybody, though.

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    1. I got it for $32 as well. If I hadn't, I'd have already returned it!

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  16. From what I've read on other blogs it seems like a lot of people are complaining about Dust. Not that that probably matters to you, but it means that UD made a crappy eyeshadow and you didn't just get a bad or something.

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    1. Yeah, that's what I've discovered as well!

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  17. So, I left the first comment on this post. Since then, I've spent multiple actual hours reading your makeup reviews, because you are snarky and skilled and smart and. . . well, basically, perfect blog = perfect. I don't even buy makeup, and I'm still totally going through your archives, for the references to The Phantom Tollbooth and similar delights. Also for the throwback to AP chem in high school. In summary: PLEASE KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING! Apologises if this is awkwardly fan-girl-y.

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    1. Bring on the awkward fan girliness.

      I'm just glad someone is reading!

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    2. Whelp, I'm this amount of awkward fan girl: http://fashionfragile.blogspot.com/2013/12/smart-snarky-science-savvy-makeup-reviews.html (bonus Rihanna reference?)

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    3. Oh man, if Robyn's blog readers ever need a collective name, I suggest the Awkward Fan Club. Because. . . yeah.

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    4. I am an awkward fan girl too! I live in Washington too, maybe we can have an awkward fan girl meet up with you?! Hopefully that doesn't sound too creepy.

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  18. So today after work, I bought the naked 3 palette on a whim while shopping for a xmas gift for myself.. and then I come home to this and this is the first thing I read from my browser! Whaddayaknow. Thankfully I'm adoring the colors so far, especially Blackheart! Will probably be purchasing the pencil version of it (:

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  19. I like UD shadows, but I think I am mostly drawn to them for the colors (not neutrals)...I love the deluxe shadow box and I have a few singles I really like. I've never had a Naked palette...this is the first one that appealed to me color-wise, and it's too bad it's so lackluster. :(

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  20. Long time lurker, first time commenting. I am so glad I read your review- I was ready to buy this for myself for christmas until you removed NP3's mask. Anyway, I started looking for alternatives, and I wanted to share this one with you- It has the same awesome colors, but less crap. I'd love your opinion if you like it! http://host.silknaturals.com/creb/bare-necessities-compare-naked-p-1693.html

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  21. The brush that comes in the palette is fantastic for concealer. I use the flat side to put the concealer on, then the fluffy side to blend it out. Works like a charm!

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  22. Sorry I'm posting all over you blog, but I just recently discovered it and think it's the neatest thing since sliced bread.

    Based on your post I bought Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy and it worked great with this palette for me. Dust on my lids looks exactly as it does in the pan when I combine the two.

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  23. Have you seen the Silk Naturals loose shadow dupes for Naked 3? The lighter colours are especially close and you can buy them individually. Phyrra did a great comparison post here: http://www.phyrra.net/2013/12/silk-naturals-vs-urban-decay-naked-3-dupes.html. If your heart is still crying over Dust, perhaps buying a dupe is a good solution!

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  24. When I first opened my Naked 3 I thought it was faulty because of the quality, especially dust. I'm glad to see a more accurate review.
    I just found your blog btw, I think its awesome :)

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