Urban Decay (cosmetics)

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Urban Decay
Industry Personal care
Founded 1996; 20 years ago (1996)
Founder Pat Holmes, Sandy Lerner, Wende Zomnir and David Soward
Headquarters Newport Beach, California, United States
Area served
Key people
Products Cosmetics and beauty products
Website www.urbandecay.com

Urban Decay, an American cosmetics brand headquartered in Newport Beach, California, is a subsidiary of French cosmetics company L'Oréal.[1]

Products include lip, eye, and nail colors, as well as other face and body products.[2] Its target market is younger women, although it is not limited to this range, and is also designed to appeal to customers who wish to purchase cruelty-free makeup.[3] Its products are sold at large department stores in the United States such as Macy's, Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom, and from the official website[4][5] as well as in several other countries such as Mexico and Germany.


Pink, red, and beige tones dominated the beauty industry palette until the mid-1990s.[6] In 1995, Sandy Lerner, a co-founder of Cisco Systems, and Pat Holmes were at Lerner's mansion outside London when Holmes mixed raspberry and black to form a new color, which they named Urban Decay. Then, they decided to form a cosmetics company.[7] Launched in January 1996, it offered a line of ten lipsticks and 12 nail polishes. Their color palette was inspired by the urban landscape, with names such as Roach, Smog, Rust, Oil Slick, and Acid Rain.[8]

In 2000, Moet-Hennessy Louis Vuitton (a diversified luxury goods group) purchased Urban Decay. In 2002, the Falic Group (owners of the Perry Ellis fragrance lines) purchased Urban Decay. In 2009, Castanea Partners (a private equity firm) acquired Urban Decay.[9] On November 26, 2012, L'Oréal announced it would purchase Urban Decay Cosmetics.[10] L'Oréal acquired the company in 2013. L'Oréal paid an estimated amount of $350 million for Urban Decay.[11]

In Spring 2015, Urban Decay expanded its social media presence with a Tumblr site, The Violet Underground. It features collaborations with young artists such as Baron Von Fancy.[12]

Animal testing[edit]

In 2009, Urban Decay received approval by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics,[13] and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) awarded the company with the fifth annual Best Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Line award.[14]

However, PETA removed Urban Decay from their list of cruelty-free companies following Urban Decay's announcement on June 6, 2012 that they would begin selling products in China, a country known to conduct animal testing on products before releasing them to the public. A month later, on July 6, 2012, Urban Decay announced that it would not sell its products in China.[15]

As of 2014, Urban Decay does not employ animal testing in the creation of its products. PETA and The Leaping Bunny Program (CCIC) certify the brand as cruelty-free.[16] Urban Decay offers 100% synthetic fiber makeup brushes made from taklon, an alternative to typical brushes constructed from animal hair.[17][18]


The Naked Collection was released initially with the Naked Palette, a set of 12 full-size eyeshadows in neutral, matte, and metallic earth tones and an eyeshadow brush from the company's signature synthetic brushes.[19]

The Naked Palette has an average 4.9 out of 5 star-rating, and 99 percent of users recommend it.[20]

The collection later expanded to include other eyeshadow palettes like Naked 2,[21] Naked2 Basics,[22] Naked 3,[23] Naked Smoky,[24] and Naked Ultimate Basics.[25]A sub-collection of the original Naked collection, Naked Complexion,[26] includes other skin products like foundations, concealers, blushes, and makeup tools to accompany them.

Urban Decay also features collections from collaborations with celebrities like Gwen Stefani.[27] The collaboration with Stefani is part of a larger female-empowerment initiative, The Ultraviolet Edge, that Urban Decay launched in order to reach a goal of donating $750,000 to organizations that benefit women in 2016.[28]

The company also released two limited edition eyeshadow palettes inspired by the live action Disney films Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.[29]


  1. ^ Daneshkhu, Scheherazade (26 November 2012). "L'Oréal buys Urban Decay cosmetics brand". The Financial Times. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Urban Decay". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "Urban Decay - Love to know". 
  4. ^ "Store Locator | Urban Decay". www.urbandecay.com. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  5. ^ "Urban Decay Makeup | Nordstrom". Nordstrom. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  6. ^ "About Us | Urban Decay". www.urbandecay.com. Retrieved 2015-09-18. 
  7. ^ Holmes v. Lerner, 74 Cal. App. 4th 442 (1999)
  8. ^ "ABOUT US." Our History. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014
  9. ^ Castanea Partners Announces Investment in Urban Decay. Reuters (2009-03-30). Retrieved on 2011-09-28
  10. ^ "L'Oréal: News Release: "L'Oréal signs an agreement to acquire Urban Decay"". EuroInvestor. Retrieved 26 November 2012
  11. ^ L'Oréal Buys Beauty Brand Urban Decay in a Deal Estimated at $300 to $400 Million." NY Daily News. N.p., 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 26 Mar. 2014
  12. ^ "Baron Von Fancy: A Little Inspiration". The Violet Underground. 26 February 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  13. ^ Cruelty Free Nail Care Products. LeapingBunny.org. Retrieved on 2011-09-28
  14. ^ ETA's Sixth Annual Proggy Awards December 2008. PETA.org. Retrieved on 2011-09-28
  15. ^ "[Urban Decay] Animal Testing Policy". Retrieved 26 July 2012
  16. ^ "Commitments." Urban Decay Cosmetics for Eyes, Lips, Face, Body and Nails. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014
  17. ^ PETA. "Beautiful News: Urban Decay to Remain Cruelty-Free!" PETA Beautiful News Urban Decay to Remain CrueltyFree Comments. N.p., 30 Nov. 2012. Web. 26 Mar. 2014
  18. ^ Is There a Squirrel in Your Makeup Bag?. PETA.org. Retrieved on 2011-09-28
  19. ^ "Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette". Urban Decay. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  20. ^ "Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette". Urban Decay. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  21. ^ "Urban Decay Naked2 Eyeshadow Palette". Urban Decay. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  22. ^ "Urban Decay Naked2 Basics Eyeshadow Palette". Urban Decay. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  23. ^ "Urban Decay Naked3 Eyeshadow Palette". Urban Decay. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  24. ^ "Urban Decay Naked Smoky Eyeshadow Palette". Urban Decay. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  25. ^ "Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics". Urban Decay. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 
  26. ^ "Free Shipping $50+ on Naked Skin Foundation & Beauty Balm From Urban Decay". www.urbandecay.com. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  27. ^ "The Ultraviolet Edge | Urban Decay". www.urbandecay.com. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  28. ^ "The Ultraviolet Edge | Urban Decay". www.urbandecay.com. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  29. ^ "Urban Decay Alice Through the Looking Glass eyeshadow Palette". Urban Decay. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 

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