Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What I'm Not Buying: Urban Decay Born to Run Palette

Urban Decay's latest palette, Born to Run, is a travel-themed palette that looks like the brand's typical Vice palettes, but slightly repackaged. 

And I won't be buying. 

Born to Run costs $49 and has 21 eyeshadows. Urban Decay offers free shipping on orders over $50 before tax, which means that, at $49, Born to Run conveniently does not qualify for free shipping. At the time that I am writing this post, Urban Decay is offering a special promotion of free shipping and a sticker pack with this palette, but it is unclear how long this promotion will last. Domestic shipping starts at $8, and Urban Decay has no direct international shipping. They have partnered with MyUS for international shipping, and while the website claims that the shipping fees are "deeply discounted," I can only imagine that shipping rates are still incredibly high. Therefore, outside of the special promotion with free shipping, this palette will cost upwards of $60 with tax and shipping if ordered from Urban Decay. This will be lower when ordering from Sephora or buying in-store. 

I've heard a lot of buzz about this palette and heard several people say that they have not purchased makeup in a long time because nothing has been interesting to them, but they don't think they can resist Born to Run. And I have to admit that I don't particularly understand that. Yes, I think that it is a pretty array of shadows, but it looks like so many palettes that have been released lately, and, more importantly, like so many Urban Decay products that have been released in the past couple of years. 

Before I get into the actual product, I would like to talk about the name, theme, and packaging:

If you have ever dated online or had to fill out any questionnaire about yourself, you will know just just how not unique it is to say, "I love to travel." When people are asked what they wished they could do with their lives or what they would do if they had endless funds, the first answer is usually "travel." And yet there is this interesting concept we tell ourselves that only a few in the world people have "wanderlust" or are "born to run," and we are one of them. The reality is that most people feel that way. But we like thinking we are one of the few. Urban Decay is smart for tapping into this impulse, and the packaging of this palette certainly gives me feelings of longing for vacation and travel. 

But that is the entire idea. 

Looking at the packaging, I am nostalgic of the summers I spent in by the beach in Southern California, the road trips I have taken across the US, the afternoon I spent at a seaside restaurant in Sausalito (outside of San Francisco), the summer nights I had in Paris, and the lazy evenings in Tuscany I spent drinking wine with friends. These are all memories of mine that are evoked by the images on this palette's packaging, and these aren't even my photographs

This is some of the most well-done, manipulative packaging that I have seen in a while. Buying this palette would give me good feelings, and not just because it fulfills my desire to buy more makeup and get new things. The "born to run" concept makes me feel special and unique, and the packaging makes me feel worldly and adventurous. 

The irony here is that if we spent less money on makeup that we already own, we could put that money toward traveling more. This is something I try to think about when a new palette or makeup item comes out that I really want but know I don't need it because I have something either identical or comparable already in my collection. It seems like just $20 here, $50 there, but if I were to actually start a savings fund and move the money that I would have spent on makeup into it, how much would I have at the end of the year? 

At the end of 2017, I actually tallied how much I spent on makeup and skincare, and the number absolutely shocked and disgusted me. And this was last year, when I was writing this blog and buying considerably less than I used to. I definitely could have taken a nice vacation with the money that I spent on makeup. I'm curious to see what the number will look like at the end of 2018, because I have found a way to cut down on the cost of skincare, and I have no plans to buy significant makeup for the rest of the year. 

It is certainly worth thinking about what else you could buy with money spent on makeup that you don't need, and I think it's interesting that Urban Decay is almost baiting us with those possibilities but hoping that we will instead buy the eyeshadow palette because it will give us the illusion of traveling. 

Let's look at the palette:

When I first saw this, I immediately thought of the recent Urban Decay Heavy Metals palette:

As well as Vice 4:

And After Dark:

This is what I just don't understand about Urban Decay. They are trying to sell me a palette that they have already tried to sell to me three other times, including six months ago with the Heavy Metals palette. This is also why I don't understand people saying that they haven't been tempted by anything until they saw Born to Run. If you weren't tempted by Heavy Metals, why are you tempted by Born to Run? All of the shimmer shadows can be found in Heavy Metals, and all of the matte shades are found in Naked Heat:

and Naked Petite Heat:

It's almost as if Urban Decay only has 20 or so shadows and they keep recycling them in every single palette they release. Born to Run even includes Smog, which is in the Naked palette and has been in countless other Urban Decay palettes. It's a gorgeous shadow and one of my favorites from the brand, but no one needs seven pans of it across different palettes. 

Let's look at swatches:

I'll say this: Brands are slowly getting better about thinking about inclusivity and diversity in their marketing images, but it serves little purpose to show how swatches look on three different skin tones if they look nearly identical across the skin tones. This is obviously not how these shadows are going to look on various skin tones once applied to the eye. No one packs on pigment that much on an eyelid. 

It's also worth mentioning how different the swatches look in the promotional images from the images Urban Decay released on their Instagram:

Granted, the lighting is not great in the above image, but you can still see that the swatches were applied very heavily (more than someone would put on their eye), and the colors are significantly less vibrant than in the promotional images. 

Born to Run not only looks like so many Urban Decay palettes, but it also looks like so many existing palettes in general. If you take out the four blue, green, and black shades, you have Huda Beauty Desert Dusk:

As well as Morphe x Jaclyn Hill:

It also looks like Tarte Be a Mermaid:

NYX Earth:

And Morphe 39A:

to name just a few. 

Honestly, it seems like the aspect of this palette that Urban Decay cared the most about and put care into was the packaging. Not just making it travel-themed, but in creating a different style of palette. I've heard so many people express excitement over the mirror in the palette, but that's just the mirror. It's not the actual product. The Heavy Metals palette was heavily criticized for the poor packaging, and it seems like Urban Decay decided to just redo that palette. They made some packaging upgrades and then added some of the traditional matte shades they throw into every palette to give the illusion that it is somehow different. It's not. It's the same thing that Urban Decay has been doing for years. 

And for the record, I like the packaging changes. I think the palette looks sleek, and it actually looks like the Sephora Pro palette packaging that I love. But new packaging is never a good enough reason to spend $50 to $60 on products that you already have. 

I think Born to Run falls short in a lot of ways, and two of the biggest are color selection and finishes. Something I think a lot of brands do poorly is the selection of matte shadows. Inevitably there will always be a color that a light-skinned person can use as a brow bone highlight and transition shade. These colors will always be neutral shades of beige. Typically there won't be equivalent shades for people with darker skin, which is exactly the case in Born to Run. Additionally, I am a person who likes colorful matte shadows. So if I'm going to be doing a green look, I'm not going to want to always blend it out with beiges and browns. One of my favorite palettes is Viseart Dark Matte:

because it gives me these rich and colorful tones within a matte finish. It would have been nice and refreshing to see Urban Decay include some matte blues, greens, olives, mustards, and other complementary shades for the more "colorful" shadows in this palette. Instead, they've given us the Naked palette and the Naked Heat plus some "colorful" shimmers from all of their other palettes. It's the same color scheme again and again, and it's boring. It's boring as a consumer, it's boring as a makeup lover, and it's even boring as an anti-haul blogger because I feel like I keep writing the same posts about "different" releases that are essentially the same. 

In my opinion, the best thing this palette has going for it is that the packaging makes me feel nostalgic for special times in my life. But that has zero to do with the product inside. I don't feel excited or inspired looking at this color scheme, and it almost makes me a little irritated because Urban Decay can't seem to do anything new. And when you look at the new palettes Jaclyn Hill curated for Morphe, it really shows how uninspired Urban Decay has been with all of their repeat releases. 

I have all of these shades already, and I don't need to have them in special, nostalgic-filled packaging. This is the kind of palette I feel most people would get tired of using after a couple weeks and would be ready to move on to the next thing because, while it is technically a new palette, the looks you'll be able to create aren't new. And at upwards of $50 or $60, that is way too much to spend on something that will be dull in such a short amount of time. This release is quite literally nothing new, and there is nothing about it that I feel excited by. So I won't be buying. 


  1. Great blog. I was contemplating buying the UD palette but after research and your great post, I will save my money.

  2. I own vice 4 because I loved ud electric. I found the quality in a lot of the jewel tones a bit lacking in vice. Fallout, fading issues even over primer if I recall..the mattes were really good though. I still use my ud electric regularly but not the vice palette any more. I might actually give it another try and apply them wet with all nighter on the brush. I found the quality in ud palettes really inconsistent which has turned me off of them.

  3. Oh and I love your thoughts and feelings on the born to run packaging and marketing! I actually had a different response. I felt the packaging looked cheap to me because it reminds me of all those run of the mill low saturation filter influencer feeds on instagram that basically just scream advertisement to me. So the fact that they are advertising the product with an advertisement esthetic made me overlook the product instantly. I remember I didn't even want to click the product image. Lovely blog by the way!

  4. I agree with you, but I do think it's a worthy palette for those who don't own any color palettes. Great post though :)