The Story Behind The Naked Palette That Launched A Billion Dollars Worth Of Eyeshadow

Urban Decay/Instagram

These days, it seems like eyeshadow palettes are a dime a dozen. Does anyone even buy single eyeshadows anymore? Nearly every makeup brand has at least one palette in their line — but it wasn't always this way. If you are a passionate palette collector, you have Wende Zomnir, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Urban Decay, to thank for your ever-growing stockpile. In 2010, the Southern California-based brand released their very first Naked eyeshadow palette, which consisted of 12 neutral shadows, ranging in shades from a pinky hue called "Virgin" to a smoky charcoal named "Gunmetal." It would become an instant hit not just among Urban Decay fans, but also makeup enthusiasts in general. There was one sold every six seconds in 2015, according to Allure. Telegraph UK would call it the most popular eyeshadow in the world and it would play a huge part in transforming the indie, alternative makeup brand into a global cosmetics company just two years later when it was acquired by L'Oreal.

Since the original launch, the company has created eight different Naked palettes — including Naked2, Naked 3, Naked Basics, and most recently, Naked Petite Heat, which launches on March 1 — all of which have acquired massive cult-followings. There are pages upon pages of subReddits dedicated to discussing each and every one of them. "Did angels sing when you opened [your Naked palette]?" asked user shrmnmss of her fellow Urban Decay fans. "There was a little acapella moment when I opened my Basics palette."

While the original palette has been around for eight years, it continues to amass new fans every day. "I know this is old hat for most people, but I finally caved and bought my first Naked palette!! I love it!," wrote TheBreat. "Seriously, it is so worth it! Have you fallen deeply in love? I did," replied NurseSophie89.

Urban Decay Naked Palette, $54, Urban Decay

These comments prove should come as no surprise to learn they remain the best-selling products for the brand. "We have sold over a billion dollars worth of Naked Palettes since its launch in 2010," Zomnir tells Bustle.

"I knew the Naked Palette would be a hit, because it was fulfilling a need, but I never could have guessed how big of a hit it would be," she explains. In fact, when Zomnir and her team were coming up with the product, it wasn't because they set out to create a game-changing, beauty best-seller — it was simply because they wanted to create a palette of their favorite shades, colors that were easy to use and would look good on anyone who wore it.

"The idea for it came from my product development team and I. We were sitting around and were like, 'Well, if you had to take four eyeshadow shades to a desert island, what would those eyeshadow shades be?' And we threw them on the table and they actually made a beautiful palette," Zomnir shares with Bustle. "We had to take a few of them out — a couple were [similar colors UD already had,] a couple didn’t fit — so we had to create a few other ones, but they were all sort of shades we loved, either from our line or from old palettes we had or things we’d been working on. We sort of threw them all out there and there it was. And that’s really where the idea came from."

Naked Petite Heat, $29, Urban Decay

The Naked palettes became so successful that Zomnir and co. decided to create an entire Naked category, consisting of concealers, foundations, lip glosses, and eyeliners. But the company isn't just known for their Naked palettes and Naked face makeup — Urban Decay has consistently launched best-selling products across the board. The All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray constantly receives praise for being the best makeup setting spray in the game, from makeup editors (at Allure, Cosmopolitan, and Brides) and customers alike. "This is my holy grail, ride or die setting spray," wrote one customer in her Ulta review. "I love this product SO much," wrote another customer, not once, but twice on Sephora's website.

All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray, $32, Urban Decay

Another item that is just as beloved is Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion. After the Naked Palette, it is the second best-selling Urban Decay product at Sephora and is marked as a "Fan Fave" on Ulta.

Zomnir credits the team's ability to constantly push out cult-favorite products to the company's passion for makeup and their "unwavering devotion" to not follow trends.

"We’ve managed to continue producing quality products that women want and need," she says. "And, there’s always a story behind every new product. We don’t develop products based on our competitors' activity or what some market report says, but based on our experiences and what we would want as a makeup junkie. When we try something and know we can’t live without it, that’s when we decide to launch it."

"The Naked Palette is the first reason I started using makeup," Olivia Muenter, Bustle Fashion and Beauty editor, shares. "[They] manage to deliver the same joy that the very first Naked palette I used gave me with every new product. Everything they make is fun and exciting, while still remaining approachable."

Here's hoping Zomnir and the Urban Decay team never stop finding things they can't live without, for the sake of makeup and their ever-growing die-hard fanbase.