The Climb is our series that highlights a top-selling item from brands both established and buzz-worthy. In these monthly features, you'll hear straight from the brands about the fascinating history of how one extra-special piece exceeded expectations and became a forever product. This month's focus is on the best-selling franchise, Urban Decay NAKED palette, which has reached over a billion dollars in sales. Find the story behind the most buzzed-about product below.
There’s no denying the allure of a gorgeous eye shadow palette. A stunning lineup of complementary shadows nestled alongside each other in a chic mirrored compact makes it one of the most giftable and mesmerizing beauty products in your makeup collection. While there’s no shortage of beautiful new palettes flooding the market each week, there is one beloved eye shadow collection that’s dominated the space for over a decade: Urban Decay’s NAKED Palette. Somewhere between the provocative name that commands immediate attention and the most complementary color stories imaginable, this celebrated item has reached over a billion — yes, with a “B” — dollars in sales since its initial launch, and continues to fly off the shelves at a record speed, with one palette sold every six seconds, the brand shares with TZR. Here’s what makes Urban Decay’s NAKED franchise one of the most recognized collections of all time.
The legacy began in 2010 with the launch of the original Urban Decay NAKED Palette, a neutral 12-shadow set with a mix of shimmery and matte shades designed for all skin types and all occasions. “The NAKED Palette was created to supply women and men with all their must-have shades to create their favorite looks, from the ‘no-makeup’ makeup look and the office-appropriate to the dramatic and sexy smoky eye, and everything in between,” Wende Zomnir, Urban Decay’s Founder, shares with TZR.
The stunning original lineup of shadows includes champagne shimmer, warm matte mocha, and twinkling cool greige, which can be worn alone or easily layered thanks to the impressively smooth, velvety texture which blends like a dream. “The nude palette is good for people who want a discreet and polished look. The different textures from matte to satin to metallic let you play with subtlety and layers,” celebrity makeup artist, Quinn Murphy shares with TZR. “And the beige/brown undertones make them really wearable and “melt” into the skin,” he adds. Unlike other shadow palettes which inevitably include at least one shadow you’ll never touch, the NAKED palette is stacked with true favorites that will each be put to good use.
Since inception, the Urban Decay NAKED palette has quickly become the gold standard of nude shadow palettes and sparked a NAKED frenzy that the brand continued to fuel in the decade to follow. In 2012, the brand launched the NAKED 2 Palette, debuting another impressive range of taupe-hued neutrals, followed by the 2013 rose-gold themed NAKED 3 Palette. The freak-out-worthy rose-gold color story propelled the NAKED collection into a new stratosphere of cult-favorite obsession and the NAKED 3 palette continues to rack up impressive figures even today. The NAKED 3 was even ranked the #1 prestige palette on the market in 2019 (especially impressive given its 2013 launch and the surge in competition and newness today) and totaled over 1 million NAKED 3 palettes sold in the last three years, the brand shares with TZR.
But the NAKED frenzy only continued from there, with the launch of the most sultry, smoldering lineup, the NAKED Smoky palette in 2015, the NAKED Skin collection in 2016 (including a range of foundations, concealers, and powders), and the release of the NAKED Heat palette in 2017 which featured a sun-drenched lineup of warm browns, burnt oranges, and terracotta hues. With each new palette, a new color story debuted, more beautiful than the one before it.
“The Naked palettes are cohesive color stories that include a good mix of blendable shadow textures that allow the user to play and create beautiful looks; combining shadows that all work together,” celebrity makeup artist, Meredith Baraf, shares with TZR. And the NAKED magic didn’t stop there. The last four years welcomed the NAKED Cherry palette (2018) ranging from burgundy to blush, the peachy-brown NAKED Reloaded palette (2019), and the NAKED Honey palette (2019) with an ultra-flattering range of warm, golden neutrals. Then, most recently, the vibrant purple-inspired NAKED Ultraviolet palette debuted in 2020, which confirmed that at least one positive thing came out of the highly stressful year. Based on the impressive track record of newness over the last decade, fans are certainly hopeful for a continued NAKED legacy of greatness to come in the months ahead.
But to really understand the NAKED palette obsession, one must dive into the numbers. A quick Google search surfaced over 169,000 4.5+ star reviews from NAKED palette fanatics — which for context is more reviews than other legacy beauty staples (and prior The Climb featured products) Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, Essie Ballet Slippers, and Nars Orgasm blush have combined. And it’s not just the average Joes of the world sharing the NAKED praise. The love goes all the way up in rankings to British royalty, where Kate Middleton was rumored to have recommended the beloved Urban Decay NAKED palette to Michelle Obama, the brand shares with TZR.
No matter how you dice it, the love for Urban Decay’s Naked Palette is very, very real. So real that when the brand discontinued the original NAKED Palette in 2018 (sigh), it actually held a funeral in its honor in Newport Beach, California. The dramatic ceremony included a eulogy led by Nicole Richie, surrounded by an impressive lineup of beauty influencers and NAKED palette lovers including Kandee Johnson, Christen Dominique, and Shayla Mitchell, who paid homage to the beloved 12 shadows that shaped the beauty game for good.
But what the world lost with the discontinuation of the original NAKED palette in 2018, it more than made up for with the palettes and extended NAKED collection products that followed. The NAKED palette franchise has won over 25 awards since its launch (the brand confirms with TZR), including the Vogue Beauty Award, Allure Best of Beauty, Glamour Beauty Power List, and just about every other top accolade possible for a beauty product today. Even more impressive are the record rates that these beloved palettes continue to fly off the shelves. One product from the NAKED collection sells every 3 seconds around the world, the brand shares with TZR, further proving that nearly a decade later, the world is still completely bananas about Urban Decay’s NAKED products.