Makeup Review: Urban Decay Book of Shadows Vol. IV

by Bridgette Miller

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

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