Cosmetic Review: Urban Decay NAKED Ultimate Basics

It's here. Urban Decay's first ever all-matte palette, NAKED Ultimate Basics Eyeshadow palette. 

We wrote about this after it was announced a few weeks ago. The buzz around the palette was at a high, and it's the star of the 2016 holiday line up for the brand.  Well, it's been a week after it's release, we're ready to release the verdict: 

Is the Ultimate Basics worth dropping $50? YES.

Cosmetic box review for Urban Decay Ultimate Basics

NAKED Ultimate Basics Palette Review

Let's start with the fundamentals: 

  • Packaging
    Moving away from the more capricious and fanciful design of the recent palette, but still not quite as stoic as the other Naked palettes, Ultimate Basics features a golden burst. It's shiny and eye-catching, a delicious compliment to the matte shades inside, and an interesting companion to the other more, well, *naked* shades on other palettes. It's luxury packaging on another level.
  • Features
    One complaint from other palettes is the mirror of questionable functionality. That is remedied in Ultimate Basics, with a full size mirror inside. The applicator is double edged: one for layering, the other for eyeliner or blending. 

There are 12 shades included in the Ultimate Basics palette. While Urban Decay is touting these as never-before-seen, some of these are very similar to shades we've seen before. But, that aside, test out the shades (if you can) prior to purchasing to make sure that these shades work for you. Matte is a funny beast; these shades are denser and richer than your average drugstore brand, per Urban Decay standards, but they're far from universally flattering (without a little help).  Luxury brands should feel luxurious, and this packed powder packs a mink-gloved punch.

Matte Shades Included

  • Blow (Light Nude Demi-Matte)
  • Nude (Soft Pink Nude Matte)
  • Commando (Light Taupe Brown Matte)
  • Tempted (Pale Brown Matte)
  • Instinct (Medium Pink Taupe Matte)
  • Lethal (Reddish Brown Matte)
  • Pre-Game (Pale Yellow Matte)
  • Extra Bitter (Burnt Orange Matte)
  • Faith (Medium Warm Brown Matte)
  • Lockout (Rich Neutral Brown Matte)
  • Magnet (Smoky Gray Matte)
  • Blackjack (Warm Black Matte)

While the colors alone aren't universally flattering, that doesn't mean that a little blending won't remedy that. Bustle has put together a list of tutorials to assist in this.  Matte is everywhere this fall, and it's ideal to ramp up your look from work to night without a total redo. 

Nifty Netbox PopUp Palettes

In honor the recent release (and soon-to-be sold out) Urban Decay Through the Looking Glass eye shadow palette, I decided to revisit the original Alice in Wonderland palette (though note that these are not Sunrise products). What I love about these palettes is, first and foremost, the eye shadow selection. Urban Decay is super pigmented without feeling heavy or weighty, making it easy to vary the intensity. Secondly, the packaging for these palettes is always fun and interesting. The magnetic closure, or netbox, as Sunrise calls them, adds an interesting element. It helps ensure that what lies beneath that top flap stays secure and accessible for days to come. The drawer feature is one of my favorite features. It’s great to pull it out, see all the colors at once, and formulate your blending plan.

alice in wonderland netbox urban decay

Courtesy of Urban Decay

Alice in Wonderland vs. Through the Looking Glass Netbox

The obvious precursor to Through the Looking Glass. The original Alice palette netbox takes obvious inspiration from the original illustrations for Alice in Wonderland. Whimsical mushrooms swirl around the mirror in the pop up portion, the caterpillar looms over Alice, and it’s basically a must-have for literary Alice memorabilia fans and collectors. This was one of the first palettes for which I popped the $60, and the one that made me a convert.

As one of those people, the fact that there are no original shades in this palette isn’t as much of a bummer as it would be others.  That might sound surprising, but Urban Decay is notorious for re-purposing older shades in palettes. But it can be frustrating, so it pays to do your research prior to investing in a palette. From a purely financial standpoint, it’s a steal to get 16 eye shadows, two mini eyeliners, and a mini primer potion for that price. Buying each individually would run around $200. Granted, these are smaller than you would buy individually, but still it’s still a better deal.

through the looking glass urban decay netbox

Photo courtesy of Bustle.com

On the other hand, Through the Looking Glass makes up for it. With 20 new shades and a great design, this netbox delivers in more ways than one. One frequent offenses of the pop-up palettes is that they tend to skew toward the glittery-shimmery side of things, but there’s a good amount of matte shades for change. Another deviation in this palette is the organization of colors. They’re organized into columns according to character. Depending on how creative you are, this might make blending easier or feel limiting. I tend toward the former.

What’s your favorite palette and why?