by the Southern Belle
***EDIT 3/13/10: Unfortunately, the Book of Shadows is now sold out. Read our newest post to see how you can try to score a free one! If you’re lucky enough to have purchased one of these babies, go to the UD website here to watch videos on how to use the items in the palette!
Like the tiny bottles and diminutive cakes affixed with “Drink me” and “Eat me” tags, Urban Decay’s Alice in Wonderland Book of Shadows even beckons to strangers of the brand. Known for its fabulous eye shadows, Urban Decay created this set of 16 eye shadows, a travel size of its best-selling Eyeshadow Primer Potion, and two 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils to honor Tim Burton’s adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland,” which hits theaters this weekend! Make no mistake: While the mix of shadows might be inspired by Alice’s journeys in Wonderland, the shadows aren’t new. Only the names have been changed. The eye pencils (Zero (black) and Flipside (aqua blue) remain unchanged in name. I’ll detail all the shadows at the end of the review* so we can get to the meat and potatoes, er … tea and toadstools, of the matter.
Overall, the product is what one would expect from Urban Decay: high-quality eye shadows with something to please everyone. I’m no stranger to Urban Decay, having fallen in love with their Chopper eye shadow and Midnight Cowboy lipstick, as well as a host of Ultraglide lip glosses, quite some time ago. I’ve never tried their eyeliners or their much-lauded eye shadow primer “potion,” however. The liners are a real treat. As the name infers, they glide on impeccably and really last. I’m kind of a purist and have become devoted to my Revlon UltraStay black liner when it comes to staying power, but these are a close second and the rainbow of colors can’t be beat. Flipside blue is a nice change and looks nice even when layered with black liner for a pop of blue.
The Eyeshadow Primer Potion truly is a genie in a bottle. A little goes a long way. Typically I sweep some across my lid and then spread with my finger. It keeps shadows on all day and night – even through rigorous spin class workouts. No creasing, feathering or flaking and colors remain vibrant. I love it so much I went out and purchased a full-size bottle so I can retain this one as my travel primer. I’ve only tried the original Nude shade. I was tempted to buy Sin, a sparkly champagne-colored primer, but it tends to give every shadow shade the same golden effect. As a friend pointed out, it’s a nice evening option but I’ll stay with the neutral nude for everyday use. Urban Decay also has a new shade, Eden, out that’s a matte finish. From what I hear in the beauty underground, however, the original will stay a tried and true fave.
As my sister pointed out with the Sephora foundation primer she reviewed a week or so ago, this primer will make you wonder what the hell you’ve been doing with your eye shadow all this time. How could I NOT have been using primer, I now wonder? As for the shadows, the set offers a nice blend of everyday shades with pops of fantastic Urbay Decay color that complement even the more traditional shades well. I have a love-hate relationship with many of Urban Decay’s shades. I love their vibrant blues, greens and purples but often wish that at nearly 30 years old I had more occasions to wear them without looking like a streetwalker or washed-up rocker. My favorite effect is Urban Decay’s glitter, embedded in many of its shades and, in this set White Rabbit (Polyester Bride), Midnight Tea Party (Midnight Cowboy Rides Again), Curiouser (Grifter) and others. My sister, the Boston Belle, has made it clear that at 29 glitter is off limits to me. I respect her rules. And yet, it’s so hard to let go. Urban Decay is a happy compromise. The glitter is fine. I love how I apply my shadow and when I’m done I sweep under my eyes and my under eyes and cheekbones have the prettiest shimmer. (People will tell you to pile on loose face powder before applying eye shadow to avoid this effect by simply sweeping off the powder when you’re done with your shadow. Don’t listen to them. The lasting glitter effects of Urban Decay’s shadows and lipsticks are some of the line’s greatest effects.) White Rabbit (Polyester Bride) is a great highlighter for brow bones and eye corners. I love the smoky eye effect of gray Vorpal (S&M) paired with Jabberwocky (Oil Slick). Jabberwocky black actually pairs well with many shades as a great accent shade without being too heavy handed. It blends well. The sets purple shades of Curiouser (Grifter), Queen (Last Call) and Underland (Flash) all blend together well. Alice (Painkiller) in teal blue makes an even better eye liner than Flipside on some occasions.
Some shades are a bit too similar and too overpowering of other shades. Midnight Tea Party (Midnight Cowboy Rides Again) seems to overpower other shades and brighten up everything. Mushroom (same name in the real world) and Mad Hatter (Twice Baked) are nice, deep browns but Mushroom is much more effective at lining and providing depth to blended shades.
All in all, a super-fun set to play with and to help guide you through Urban Decay favorites that you might want to consider buying in full sizes. As to the packaging, it could use some improvement. At $52 for the set, Urban Decay could afford to provide a bit more. The eye shadow pans are a decent size, but I’d appreciate an applicator or two. Maybe even some lip glosses. Maybe a glitter liner? This IS Alice in Wonderland, after all. The book opens on the top to a pop-up Alice in Wonderland scene with a mirror in back. It’s a pretty standard design for these larger Urban Decay special sets I’ve seen. It’s a cute touch, but I don’t really get it. I’m never going to actually carry this with me anywhere and use the mirror to apply the eye shadows. It’s a nice effect, but a waste of space. The products are revealed through a pull-out drawer. It keeps things orderly and shadow doesn’t get all over the place, but it’s a pain in the ass to pull it out all the time. I’d prefer the shadows be under the flip lid where the relatively useless pop-up is. Extended and left pulled out, the whole set has a fetching, truly Alice in Wonderland-esque effect. I’m just not going to keep it pulled out all day. All in all, an A-. You just can’t find anything better than these shadows if you’re looking for Wonderland-worthy eyes and this set delivers. Plus, it’s sold out on Sephora.com so a bunch of beauty mavens can’t be wrong, can they? Surely not. Fall down the rabbit hole and find a set to try out.
* Set shadows include: Underland (Flash), Alice (Painkiller), Oraculum (Baked), Queen (Last Call), Chessur (Chopper), White Rabbit (Polyester Bride), Wonderland (Maui Wowie), Curiouser (Grifter), Muchness (X), Mushroom (Mushroom), Midnight Tea Party (Midnight Cowboy Rides Again), Vorpal (S&M), Absolem (Homegrown), Drink Me, Eat Me (Sin), Mad Hatter (Twice Baked), Jabberwocky (Oil Slick)
Buy at Sephora here! ***