An Interview with Urban Decay Founder: Wende Zomnir

Urban Decay’s founder, Wende Zomnir, is a colour lover and makeup addict, just like many of the brand’s fans. 

We caught up with her to talk beauty with an edge, the new Shapeshifter contour palette and her makeup must-haves…

What inspired you to create the brand?

Urban Decay came about because in 1996, the prestige cosmetics floor was a sea of red, beige and pink. No beauty brands were making high-quality products in alternative shades. Our idea was to create a line of amazing, intensely-pigmented cool colors and completely shock the industry. We didn’t want to just knock on the door of the cosmetics world, we wanted to knock it down.

Where and when did your love of make up begin?

Like most women, I stole my first lipstick from my mother and I was addicted! I loved the smell, the feel, everything! I have this theory that baby girls in Texas are born knowing how to put makeup on. And I even got sent home in 8th grade for wearing too much makeup!

How did the name Urban Decay come about?

The way we came up with the name was when Sandy (Lerner) said, “It has to be Urban something…” Then she thought of ‘Decay’ and it really resonated because not only was it a shocking name for a makeup brand, it was also catchy. It reflects our ideas about how beauty can be different, unexpected and unusual, like finding inspiration in the iridescent rainbow sheen of an oil slick. People love that it’s a little bit high-spirited and doesn’t fit with other beauty industry notions.

How would you describe the brand?

Our mantra is, and always has been, beauty with an edge.

We like to describe Urban Decay as feminine, a little dangerous and a lot of fun—and that comes through in everything we do, from the products we create and the names we give them, to the way we design our packaging and the experience we create in stores. As makeup junkies ourselves, we create products for makeup junkies. We’re all incredibly passionate about what we do, and we’re committed to develop only the best products.

How do you continue to create new products?

There’s always a story behind every new product. We don’t develop products based on our competitors’ activity or what some market report says, but based on our experiences and what we would want as a makeup junkie. When we try something and know we can’t live without it, that’s when we decide to launch it.

Do you like to contour?

I do! I like to use Naked Skin Concealer for this, the formula is incredibly lightweight and easily blendable. Choose a concealer that’s a few shades darker than your complexion and apply just below cheekbones and blend. If I want something a little lighter, I will do a slight contour using our Naked Flushed palette which has bronzer, blush and highlight all in one palette.

 Can you tell us more about the new Shapeshifter palette and how to use it?

This palette highlights, contours, and color corrects and was inspired by the different ways people like to contour and highlight their skin. Some people love powders, some people love creams, and many like to use both. I’m excited to feature both in one compact with the launch of our new Shapeshifter palette. It allows you to contour or non-tour to your hearts desire, color correct and even highlight areas that need extra oomph.

If someone is new to Urban Decay what must-have products would you suggest they use?

Our top 10 obsessions is a great place to start! Eyeshadow Primer Potion, Eyeshadow, Naked palettes, All Nighter Setting Spray, Perversion Mascara, Naked Skin Liquid Foundation, Vice Lipstick, 24/7 Eyeliner Naked Concealer or a Naked Flushed palette.


How has the rise of social media helped your brand?

You Tube channels, blogs and videos are a great way to learn how to experiment…women now feel more confident to try new makeup looks. The industry has exploded since the introduction of You Tube and has only increased with the addition of Instagram, Snapchat and other social media apps. Naked Skin Color Correctors would have been hard to sell a few years ago, but now since there are so many videos showing customers how to use them, we can hardly keep them on the shelf. It’s so much more fun for me because today’s beauty influencers love to wear makeup, just like me!

What are your faves from UD & why?

Naked Skin Weightless Creamy Concealer. This amazing formula is incredibly lightweight, yet covers completely. It dries down but stays flexible so it doesn’t settle into fine lines.

Perversion Mascara. My favorite thing about this mascara is that it provides volume AND separation at the same time. One coat gives you bigger, blacker, badder lashes, but if you want to really pile it on, you can.

Vice Lipstick in Afterdark. It’s bright, yet dark. It’s pretty, but edgy. It goes with almost every makeup look without being neutral.

Zodiac Moondust Eyeshadow. It’s this gorgeous smoky green sparkly shadow I love to wear because people always stop to ask me what I’m wearing on my eyes!

All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray. I always spray this on after I apply my makeup to make sure it lasts all day!

24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Deep End and Zero. I love these pencils because they glide on and deliver rich highly-pigmented color that’s ultra long-wearing. It’s an amazing formula that smudges and blends, but then dries down and stays put until you take it off.

The Naked Palette Collection is a huge success. Are there are new Naked Palette’s in the pipeline?

We can’t divulge our secrets, but we’re always working on something new…hope you love it!

Can you share some insider make up tips and tricks or hacks you swear by?

Use All Nighter Setting Spray to apply Moondust Eyeshadow wet. The glitter stays put and your makeup will last all night! And if you wake up next to a stranger, you’ll still look fantastic.

 Try Eyeshadow Primer Potion on blemishes before applying your concealer! It creates a velvety texture on shiny “zit” skin so the concealer sticks.

Have you ever had any beauty fails that you look back on that make you smile?  

It’s got to be those perms my mother gave me…or maybe it was the supershort bangs…no, it had to be my Miss Texas Pageant makeup.

Who is your biggest inspiration & why?

Gloria Steinem. Smart. Badass. Troublemaker. She is beautiful and a trailblazer for women’s rights. We all owe her a huge debt.

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