Urban Decay: The makeup brand beauty junkies love

Express yourself


By Cai Mei Khoo

Urban Decay: The makeup brand beauty junkies love

I was in high school when I first encountered Urban Decay. It was one of the few makeup brands that had a cult following at school—all the cool girls had Urban Decay in their makeup stash, of course. What struck me most about the brand was their incredible array of different eyeshadow colours—some favourites then was a very pale, almost white, metallic gold, and a shimmery blue-green colour that screamed mermaid. Bearing names like Acid Rain, Rust and Oil Slick, Urban Decay differed from other beauty brands that were generally more feminine. Here was a brand that stood out for being edgy and different; their M.O. after all, is ‘beauty with an edge’.


Launched in the mid-90s, Urban Decay was the answer to what was missing in Wende Zomnir, Urban Decay co-founder and chief creative officer, and business partner Sandy Lerner’s (who co-founded Cisco Systems) lives. Introduced by Sandy’s business manager, David Soward, Sandy and Wende met in August 1995 and spent the next few months mixing and creating lipsticks and nail polish shades. Urban Decay launched soon after, in January 1996, with a collection of 10 lipsticks and 12 nail polishes.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow

“My partner (Sandy Lerner) wanted to create high-quality makeup in fun colours—blacks and greens and purples that would blend beautifully,” says Wende in an interview with The Coveteur. “We were like, what do we do that makes it really stand out and makes it totally different?”

‘Does Pink Make You Puke?’ 

Challenging the beauty status quo—the first Urban Decay ad ran with a tagline that read ‘Does Pink Make You Puke?’—the brand born out of Wende’s Laguna Beach bungalow just over two decades ago, is now available all over the world, and first reached our shores in 2011, when Sephora Starhill opened. Urban Decay then opened its first flagship store at Suria KLCC a few years later, in October 2015. 

{insert gallery tpl=”slide-freesize.tpl” id=”UDHQ” rid=”5082″ order=”a_tstamp”}

Urban Decay still operates out of Newport Beach in Orange County, California, where they’ve been since day one. Colourful murals, posters and art decorate the walls of the mostly purple office, where even the files used are purple. Adjacent to the main office building is where the magic happens—here is where the creative team brainstorms and create the next cult must-have.


While Urban Decay may be known for their bold colours, their Naked palettes, which launched in 2010, have been something of a game changer for the brand. The first palette came about after a conversation Wende had with her team on which four neutral eyeshadow colours they would bring with them if they were stuck on a desert island. Featuring 12 complementary colours, the Naked palettes (there are currently 7 different palettes) are some of the brand’s all-time bestsellers. Others include their makeup setting spray (All Nighter, is one of my personal favourites), and their Eyeshadow Primer Potions.


Just know that there is no bad decision. #UDNaked #UrbanDecay

A post shared by Urban Decay Cosmetics (@urbandecaycosmetics) on


Whether it’s a ‘Naked’ look you’re going for or something with a pop of colour, Urban Decay has something for everyone wanting to express their individuality. “Makeup is about self expression,” says Wende. “It’s not about covering your flaws but showing the world who you are.” Shop Urban Decay here

Related stories:

34 Gorgeous girls discover their latest ‘Vice’ from Urban Decay

Go behind the scenes at the exclusive Buro 24/7 Malaysia x Urban Decay shoot party

24 Questions with Urban Decay’s Wende Zomnir

Explore More