Urban Decay is releasing their fourth Book of Shadows (with time to spare before the holidays) and this latest edition features a few brand-new teched-up extras. The palette, which retails for $64, includes 16 eyeshadow shades (1o of which are new!), as well as a full-sized liquid eyeliner in Perversion (black), a mini Supercurl mascara, and a sample of their Original formula Eyeshadow Primer Potion. That's a whole lotta value in a pretty purple box, but that's not all you'll get-- the collectible kit also comes with QR codes that you can download to watch makeup tutorials, as well as a mini speaker you can hook up to your smartphone. The package even includes a pocket to stash your phone in while you follow along with the tutorial of your choice.
(Top: Level 1, with pop-up butterflies, mirror, and QR codes; Bottom: pull-out drawer with eyeshadows, eyeliner, mascara, primer, mini-speaker and cord. Images via Temptalia because they have their shit together and my camera is crap.)
I'm new to Urban Decay products, so I was stoked to play with their famous shadows. I was considerably less jazzed on the smartphone stuff, because I don't have one of those, but I could see the appeal for those not stubbornly clinging to their prehistoric phones. I borrowed a friend's iPhone to check out the videos, and while that's cool and all, the speaker was not awesome quality and I could live without another smoky eye tutorial. For me, those features weren’t worth the extra cost. I was not a fan of the packaging either; while it was certainly attractive, it’s also bulky, not very travel-friendly, and difficult to handle. The bottom drawer gets stuck in the box, and the eyeshadows are so close to the edge that I often end up smearing them on my hand when prying open the drawer.
(The Book of Shadows is neither bite- nor purse-sized.)
Despite the disappointing packaging and lack of applicators (I ruined my eyeshadow brush recently and was kind of hoping for a new one), I thought this palette had potential. I wanted to know if these products could stand up to my reckless rock and roll lifestyle!
(Pictured: me, thee hours of sleep, reckless rock and roll attitude, Primer Potion)
By "reckless rock and roll lifestyle," I actually mean "mostly sitting at a desk all day lifestyle," but I did get the chance to really put these shadows to the test last weekend. My band had a gig on Saturday night, and my burlesque troupe had a show on Sunday. That meant 48 hours of hard use and likely abuse.
I tried out a few decidedly demure looks during the week with the palette's numerous neutrals; when I did a dramatic red lip, the earthy shades looked perfect and packed a little glam punch under some black eyeliner and mascara. There's a shadow called Bust(!) that makes a great crease color, and the lightest shades (Skimp, Zephyr) were perfect for highlighting. I appreciated that they were bright enough to wake up my waterline but more subtle than a pure white.
(Office-friendly neutrals plus slightly-sassy winged eyeliner make for quietly defined daytime eyes.)
I tried out the blue shades (Blue Bus, Hijack, and Crystal) for a night out with some trepidation (I was going to the theatre, not dancing in a Whitesnake video) but they were actually quite wearable and I got a lot of compliments.
(This is how your glamour sausage gets made. My makeup matched my hot rollers so well that I almost wore them out.)
On Saturday night, I slicked on the primer, loaded on the liner, and hoped that I wouldn't have wet black streaks running down my face by set's end. I had used the eyeliner without primer one day and wasn't impressed by its supposed "24/7" staying power. As a disciple of the Amy Winehouse School of Eyeliner Application, flaky liner bums me out almost as much as flaky friends. I have really sensitive skin and experienced a little stinging the first few times I applied. The liner was also a bit shiny for my taste; I prefer a matte black line. With the primer potion, though, this stuff lasted through a very sweaty set and a Mac 'n' Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt at Denny’s afterward without transferring onto my creases (which I haaaaate). I feared it would be hell to remove later, but was pleasantly surprised by how easily some soap and water took it off at the end of the night. I didn’t need to tug or scrub at all.
(24/7 Liquid Eyeliner in Perversion, via Fashion Fuss.)
On Sunday, my makeup really had its work cut out for it. It needed to look good from a distance while I was onstage, and be removed and reapplied quickly between acts. I had to build up quite a bit with the darker shades to get the gorgeous drag queen-quality color I wanted, and I noticed that the sparkly shades had some fallout. Cobra created a cool, shimmering smoky eye when I had to channel an Eastern European ballerina for a modern-dance-style interpretation of sexual positions set to the Jock Jams theme (don’t ask). Still, when I decided to draw on my face with eyeliner and then realized it looked so shamefully bad that I had to take it off and start over with about five minutes to spare before I was due back onstage (so no, I don’t have photos), I was glad I could get rid of it with a few swipes of a makeup-removing wipe.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the products themselves, and I think this is a really good kit for anyone who wants an introduction to Urban Decay. With plenty of neutrals as well as a few funky shades, the Book of Shadows Volume IV is a nice middle ground between the classic Naked palette ($48) and the bolder 15th Anniversary kit ($55). I do wish that there was a little more variety in the shadow finishes- they were mostly shimmery and frosted, and I prefer matte shadows for blending. Hardcore UD fans might want to sit this one out if they’ve collected the other limited edition kits, but I will definitely be getting a lot of use out of this. I plan on purchasing the full-sized primer ($19) for sure, and would also consider buying the Supercurl mascara ($20); the curved brush was easy to use, and could be flipped down for spidery Twiggy-like bottom lashes. It also makes an excellent mustache, which is always something I look for in any product.
I give the Urban Decay Book of Shadows one enthusiastic thumb up for the products and a sort of sad sideways thumb for the packaging. Try it out at Sephora or urbandecay.com.