Collab Conundrum: Kristen Leanne X Urban Decay

Published on February 18, 2018 by   ·   No Comments

My dearest Kristen Leanne – we need to talk.

I’ve loved Urban Decay makeup for pretty much all of my adult life.  When I was first toying with the idea of creating a drag persona, one of the first pieces of “fancy makeup” (i.e., not Walmart or Target) was a shiny glitter coral pink lipstick called Burnout.  I had to go to the local head shop; next to the glass bongs and one hitters was a small collection of Manic Panic hair dyes and brown cardboard boxes marked with the scrawled Urban Decay logo.  I loved that lipstick; I still have never found a lipstick I like as much as I loved that color.  NARS Orgasm blush almost captures the color in blush, but as for a lipstick, I’ve never found one with the perfect combination of pink, coral, and gold shimmer.  I love Urban Decay.

I also sort of like Kristen Leanne.  She’s a YouTuber that I’ve watched a few times; I don’t subscribe to her channel, but generally when I watch her videos I have a good time.  I’ll include one below that I thought was entertaining, plus it features her husband doing her makeup and while his makeup skills aren’t exactly up to snuff, he’s definitely fuckable.

When I heard that Kristen Leanne was doing a collab with Urban Decay, I was sort of interested.  What I do enjoy about Kristen’s channel is that she’s not afraid to play with color; she’s the creator of Artic Fox hair color, so she loves wild and edgy looks and I’m all the way here for it.  If I see one more nude/neutral collab palette with one pop of cranberry or mauve or fuchsia, I’m going to throw myself out a window.  I just knew that if anyone can create fabulous, intense eyeshadow colors, it’s Urban Decay, and if anyone could put together a truly original and interesting collection of shades, it’s Kristen Leanne.

And then we got this.

Kristen 01

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

Let’s start with the good parts.  The outer packaging is everything that I love about Urban Decay’s new upscale vibe: it’s beautifully designed, the neon-inspired logo is perfection and that background imagery is stunning.  It’s edgy, but it’s edgy in a way that is much more Sephora makeup maven than angsty teenage head shop shopper.  The outside is wonderful.  Once we get inside, however, it’s a big ol’ mess.

First of all, that’s the most incoherent arrangement I’ve ever seen.  Maybe it’s just my borderline OCD ass, but doesn’t it drive anyone else crazy that nothing lines up?  The pans are all different sizes and they look like they’re just plunked in haphazard.  I’m not sure what the color arrangement is trying to inspire me to do, besides pour another cocktail and try to forget the trauma of what I’m looking at.  The left is ok-ish with that purple pink, the two shades of blue, and the royal purple; you could kind of use those together and get away with it.  But then we’ve got the fuchsia next to a big round pan of gold, and that’s next to some bright orange.  Underneath the orange is a lime green and a black matte; perfect for your crazy kindergarten teacher phase of wearing holiday-themed makeup looks.  The dual-color pan in the middle…I think those are supposed to be topcoats or something, like the shades in the Distortion palette?  They just look like pastel shadows that don’t match a goddamn thing.  And that weird copper brown at the bottom.  What the…I mean, seriously, what are you supposed to do with that shadow?

This palette looks like it’s not even trying and it’s just a big, messy shitshow.  I’ve watched videos that show off the performance, so I know that most of the shades actually perform really well (no surprise there; Urban Decay is pretty reliable (especially when it comes to shimmer shades – mattes are a little more touch and go) so it hurts even more that this palette just can’t give me what I need.

Before you think that I’m just writing this post as an excuse to shit all over her Kaleidoscope Dreams, I didn’t realize when I first heard about the collab that there were actually other products; once I finally got a look at some of the other pieces, I was surprised to find that not only were they much stronger in the overall design department, but that Urban Decay was luring me over to the world of nudes.  I found them accidentally when I was shopping the site to place my birthday rewards order (if you aren’t a part of their rewards program, you should think about joining – I got a free full size Sin highlighter as my birthday gift!  If you want to use my referral link, I’ll provide it HERE.  I don’t make any money, but I do get some rewards points for the first 4 or 5 people who use it to sign up, and additional points if you then make a purchase) and decided to give them a chance.  Here’s what I picked up: the Daydream eyeshadow palette, the Forgive & Forget liquid lipstick duo, and the single liquid lipstick in Pulse.

UD 01

Now, I’ve bought other nude products from Urban Decay before: I have the Naked palette, the Naked 3 palette, and even that Naked Smokey palette that they’re trying to convince everyone never existed.  But I didn’t buy them because I was wowed by them or I thought they were unforgettable.  I bought them because I like Urban Decay’s shadows, I’ve been wanting to play around with more nude/neutral eye looks, and these seemed like as good a place as any to start.  Except for Naked 3 – I will admit that I bought that totally because I got seduced by the hype.  Basically what I’m trying to say is that while I think Urban Decay has some good quality nude palettes, they impress me with their performance and functionality but nothing about them excites me.

But for some reason, I was really drawn to the Daydream palette.  It’s a pretty basic little palette, 5 shades that range from a pale ivory to browns and bright pop of warm medium pink.

UD 02L to R: Lucy, Daydream, 12/12, Subscribe, Eight

This is totally not the kind of palette I would normally be drawn to, but I actually kind of really love it.  Like, a lot.  First of all, the packaging is so cute.  It’s got the same neon logo as the other palette, but the background image looks like yummy, whipped frosting.  Maybe that’s why I like it?  This big girl loves herself some cake!  The inside has sort of a floral/garden theme that I think works well with the shade selection.  The two images aren’t exactly coherent, but I just love the overall look, so I ain’t mad about it.

As for the shades, Lucy is a little powdery with a finger swatch, but I played around with the included brush and it blended out nicely.  Daydream looks like a nice transition shade; if I hit pan on Courtney in the Beauty Killer palette, this will be my backup for sure!  12/12 is a nice pink shade that satisfies the pop of color requirement, and I love that it’s almost a little coral.  Subscribe is the only shade that I feel like could have been swapped out with another shade – maybe a shimmer?  Even if you wanted to keep this all matte, there could have been another matte that could have had a special moment.  It’s not bad, but it’s pretty similar to Daydream and Daydream is just better.  Eight, though, is a deep velvety matte that is dark enough to look great with cool or warm shades, and it’s a nice alternative to darken or smoke up a look if you want to make a change from just using black.

Now let’s take a look at the liquid lipsticks:

UD 03L to R: Pulse, Forgive, Forget

I was really hoping to like these, but I still remember my disappointment with UD’s liquid lipstick formula when it launched.  I was actually surprised to see that there were 3 liquid lipsticks in this collection as the Vice Liquid Lipsticks have been getting clearanced out recently.  I’m not sure if they reformulated or not, but the removal for these was definitely better than with the previous lipsticks, but I still wasn’t overly impressed with this formula  It’s way too thick, and this one never really felt like it 100% dried down, so it never looked really matte.  Maybe I didn’t look closely enough and this is supposed to be a new formula or a different finish, but it was just kind of a meh sort of moment.  The colors are surprising and pretty – I actually love that grey color, which is not something I usually say about grey lipsticks, and the Forgive and Forget duo are really gorgeous pinky/peach nudes.  I just am not moved.  I was hoping they would redeem UD’s liquid lipsticks for me, but these were just not up to the challenge.

Overall, I’m just sort of disappointed because I feel like this collaboration could have been something very special.  If the Kaleidoscope Dreams palette had had a better arrangement and a more cohesive color story, it could have been bomb as fuck!  The fact that it made me as excited for a nude palette as I was for the Daydream palette really speaks to what a missed opportunity it was.  I mean, there was a gorgeous lime green shade right there!  And if you’ve read my site for more than 5 seconds you know that I’m complete obsessed with green makeup and almost always give it a free pass!  I might pick it up if it goes on clearance at some point (and then immediately depot it – it’s physically hard to look at!), but unless the sale is good this is a definite pass.  The lipsticks had some work done to make them a little better, but were still a disappointment. The shades were fun, and I love the idea of a duo called Forgive & Forget, but even the best packaging can’t make up for a sub-par product.

I hope that Urban Decay – and other companies for that matter – continues to work with interesting YouTubers and other influencers who aren’t just going to give us more of the boring nude/neutral mess that we’ve been seeing.  Kristen Leanne is a woman who brings some fun and funky colors to her channel, and I hope that this dismal collection doesn’t torpedo the chance for other colorful and spunky creators to bring their visions to life.  I mean, if we’re going to be inundated with a constant stream of collabs, at least make them with people who have an interesting vision to put forward, amiright?!

Let me know below: are you over the whole collab thing?  What’s your favorite product that you ever purchased that was a collab?  What was your least favorite?

Now Go Forth & Get Painted!

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